While the northern Mozambique islands of Ibo, Medjumbe, Quilalea, and Vamizi are closed for business until further notice, the rest of the country is safe for travellers, according to Director of the Maputo-based Dana Tours, Natalie Tenzer-Silva.
This follows news that Islamic State (IS) insurgents had occupied the islands of Mecungo and Vamizi – which form part of the Quirimbas Archipelago – earlier this week. The occupation of the islands comes about a month after the northern port town of Mocimboa da Praia was seized by IS insurgents.
Tenzer-Silva told Tourism Update that Dana Tours was monitoring the situation very closely and, as a precautionary measure, Medjumbe had evacuated the majority of its team to Pemba, with a small complement of security staff remaining to monitor the situation.
“We are currently not holding bookings for this part of Mozambique, but we have faith that the government will intervene successfully and that business will resume positively in the months to come,” she said.
With Maputo being 2 400 km from the northern town of Pemba (almost double the distance between Johannesburg and Cape Town), Tenzer-Silva said the rest of the country was open for business.
“We are currently selling packages to the domestic market. Popular choices are the Bazaruto Archipelago, Vilankulos and Mozambique Island, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Many properties in these locations are offering once-in-a-lifetime specials that provide opportunities for Mozambicans and expats who couldn’t get home, to explore Mozambique,” she said.
Tenzer-Silva also welcomed South Africa’s announcement of the reopening of its borders, and said the Mozambican travel industry was waiting with open arms to welcome tourists from outside its borders.
“Hotels have used this down time to implement health and safety protocols, as have we at Dana Tours,” she said.
Foreign governments, including the UK and US, have advised against travel to some northern districts in Cabo Delgado Province as well as the northern islands, due to attacks by groups with links to Islamic extremism.
They also advise that travellers should “reconsider” travelling to Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado, due to the threat of terrorism.