Mozambique: One of the Best Destinations for Leisure and Business Tourism

Noor Momade gives an overview of the best tourist destinations in Mozambique and discusses conference and business tourism, as well as investments in the sector and his vision for the future. He also explains how Cotur can help travellers.

Interview with Noor Momade, CEO of Cotur

Noor Momade, CEO of Cotur

Maputo is transforming itself and is becoming more and more interesting as a tourist destination. What is changing and on the move here?

As we know, Maputo is growing and is now a very well-known city. There are many new buildings and new hotels going up. We have just renovated the new ring road along the seaside, part of the Maputo bypass, where the Radisson Hotel is now located, alongside two new buildings: the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre and a new five star hotel that is almost ready on this new stretch of ring road on Maputo’s sea front.

These new buildings and hotels going up are almost ready and will completely change the face of Maputo as a city. Besides this, as you know, everyone is talking about Mozambique. We are much better known as a nation now, also as a sea food and tourist destination. We have some very nice islands and some very beautiful beaches and seaside, not only here in the South but also in the North. This means we’re growing and so is Maputo.

Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique
Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique

Can you tell me about the new fish market that just opened and promises to be an interesting place for tourism?

We have just opened the new fish market, also located on the sea front, on Maputo’s new ring road. It’s a very nice building, built in a very nice setting. This is not only a place to go and buy fish and sea food, but you can also sit and eat it fresh. You can choose and buy fresh sea food, then sit and enjoy it, freshly cooked in front of you for lunch. This is yet another destination in Maputo that tourists can go to and which they really enjoy, since we are among the best places around when it comes to sea food.

There is also a new conference centre, which is a setting for business tourism and conferences. Can you give us some of your views on that? What does Maputo have to offer in this regard?

What we can see in Maputo over the last few years is that we have had a lot of conference and business tourism, which means that – aside from leisure tourism – we have many conferences taking place in the city, as well as many meetings, with a lot of people coming to Maputo for this purpose, but also taking advantage of their time here to enjoy some tourism: they spend money on this or that and visit the fish market, as well as other destinations on offer in here.

Cotur is the country’s largest travel agency. We have been in the market for 24 years now. We are here to offer our passengers, our clients and our friends the best possible service and the best offers in relation to their needs.

Maputo is also growing on this front and we are responding to this form of business and conference tourism. Why? Because we believe that we are very well positioned. Among the region’s countries, we are among the best in terms of climate. On the political front, Mozambican people are very friendly and we receive foreigners with open arms, which differs from some neighbouring countries. This is why the African Union now holds most of its meetings here in Maputo.

Many conferences are being held in Maputo, which means that hotels are always fully booked. This goes to show Maputo’s energy in terms of business and conference tourism.

Conference and business tourism
Conference and business tourism

Could you mention some large conferences that have taken place in Maputo over the past year?

We host many meetings throughout the year, not just related to gas and oil, but also involving energy, power, the Islamic banks and a huge variety of institutions, including the African Union as I mentioned. They all come and hold their meetings and conferences here.

Now let’s talk about places other than Maputo. Why is Mozambique Island a must and why should people from all over the world just go for it?

Mozambique Island is among the world’s most beautiful islands and that’s the place where Mozambique’s story as a country started. It was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Besides this, it remains authentic and remains as it was in the 40s, 50s or 60s. It retains its original charm. The old designs and architecture are very well maintained. Restoration work is underway, while ensuring things look the same as what they did originally.

It’s also a clean place and offers some beautiful coastline. If you go there, you’ll see that people as such are not modern or fancy people. They are still like people from the old days, in terms of the way they dress, the way they speak and how they receive you. They are very humble and sweet people. It’s something very different. If you go to Mozambique Island, you will get the feeling you are stepping back in time, so it’s a unique place. This is why we advise tourists visiting Mozambique not to miss Mozambique Island, given its special character, different to anything else you will see in the world

Mozambique Island was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
Mozambique Island was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

When you talk about the heritage itself, do you mean colonial houses?

Everything is like it was then, in the beginning. Nothing has changed, there are no new or modern buildings, no defacing houses. Everything is original.

Do you mean Portuguese style?

Not really Portuguese style, but even before that, which means everything is very authentic, faithful to the earliest styles. This makes it different and unique.

What else is there of interest, apart from Mozambique Island?

Near Mozambique Island, we have Nacala, where we now have a new airport. This is also one of the world’s deepest sea ports. Nacala is growing as a city. It has one of the country’s best beaches, Fernão Veloso, which is a very well-known place and is very attractive for tourism.

Besides Nacala, there’s Pemba more to the North. A few years ago, Pemba was nominated among the world’s top 7 most beautiful seaside spots.

We have many destinations. More to the South, we have Vilanculos, where there are a few islands, among them Bazaruto island, which is very nice indeed, with very clean water and in a class of its own.

As you can see, Mozambique has everything. Not only the gas and oil that has been discovered, but we have also been recognised as among the best for tourism. The great thing and what’s different about us vis-a-vis other countries, in coming to Mozambique for tourism, is that we’re still very new. Everything is unspoilt, whereas when you go to other countries with established tourist destinations, these tend to be very well known but often overused. If you come to Mozambique, some of the places you’ll visit, you’ll be the first to discover and see! This is also among the wonderful things you’ll be able to do in Mozambique: we are very new, you can see new things, and you can be the first or very nearly first person to visit some of the sites.

Pemba was nominated among the world's top 7 most beautiful seaside spots
A few years ago, Pemba was nominated among the world’s top 7 most beautiful seaside spots

How does a tourist go about it? He comes here, but then how does he access all these places? How easy is it to go to Pemba or Nacala? Does he just arrive in Maputo and take another flight, or can he organize everything from wherever he comes from?

Well, there are direct international flights from Johannesburg to all of Mozambique’s provinces, and from other countries to Pemba, not just to Maputo. But people mainly come to Maputo and from here, we have a network in place connecting all these destinations. We organize packages which include not only the airfare, but also hotels, transfers and everything else. Mostly that’s the way people go about it.

What’s the future for tourism in Mozambique? If you think forward 3-4 years from now, it’s clear Mozambique is going to change, in view of oil and gas discoveries – especially since it has the world’s third largest gas reserves. This is going to be a huge thing!

Mozambique will definitely undergo this boom. That’s for sure. With all these discoveries underway, tourism must experience a boom and we hope this will happen soon. We are preparing ourselves for that, as well as the country. We know that the government is also very concerned with preparing the country for this challenge.

Here in the private sector, in coordination with the government, we have constant meetings and jointly undertake studies, in order to understand what we have to do and how we can improve and prepare ourselves for this boom that we are expecting and that we will have. Essentially, we hope and wish that this will happen soon and we will confidently prepare ourselves for this challenge.

Is it difficult to invest in tourism here?

Absolutely not. The government is interested in supporting this and there are many incentives that can be deployed for this kind of investment.

The message I’d like to pass on is that, if there’s anyone interested in coming to Mozambique to undertake investment of any kind in the tourism sector, you are very welcome. You can get in touch with the government departments, city governments or with us. We’re ready to support you and supply with all the information you may need. Rest assured that the government will not only offer you its full support, but also a package of incentives, in order to invest in tourism.

Invest in tourism in Mozambique is an easy process
Invest in tourism in Mozambique is an easy process

What can Cotur offer any potential customer or client? What are the main services you can provide?

As is well known in Mozambique, Cotur is the country’s largest travel agency. We have been in the market for 24 years now and we will soon open our new head office, which is six times larger than our current one. We are here to offer our passengers, our clients and our friends the best possible service and the best offers in relation to their needs. Our clients are the reason for our existence and, as such, our clients’ satisfaction is our own satisfaction. We are here to serve our clients.

In a nutshell, what are the main services or products you offer?

Well, we do everything. We don’t just do ticketing, but also hotel bookings, car rental, travel management and insurance. We cover everything related to the travel industry.

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