Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Land-Ocean Interactions
 in the Coastal Zone


Coastal tourism and its management: a case study

M. R. Jury, A. Mthembu, E Masinga, P Cuamba
Centre for Environmental Studies University of Zululand

October 2004

The area of interest in this report is southern Mozambique, where natural resource based coastal tourism is on the upturn following years of stagnation. This work follows on from previous studies on the ecology, socio-economics and physical environment. It involves an internship by Unesco bursar Ms Elena Masinga, a Mozambican studying toward a degree in eco-tourism at the University of Zululand.

Ms Masinga's internship over the period July - September 2004 enabled a close look at coastal tourism in a small border town. Our study considers the micro-economics through the triangular relationship of supply, demand and cost. Supply we take to be fixed assets of the business (eg. buildings and amenities), demand is according to tourists preferences, 'willingness to pay' and perceived 'value', (eg. scenic conditions at reasonable prices), and costs are generated in the production of services provided by staff (eg. shop, accommodation, restaurant, general). In our case study we consider the situation at an 'upmarket' beach camp in Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique (below).

Market demand is based on tourist preferences, from a survey conducted at the campsite. The following information is pertinent:

tourists origin: 55% Jo-burg, 18% Durban, 5% Cape Town, < 5% each for other SA cities, only 5% from overseas
number of visits: about 50% visited once, 25% visited 4-6 times
size of group: 75% come in groups of 3-7 people
preferences: from a sample size of 117 tourist questionnaires

The sea state ranked as the highest priority. Thus climatic elements can be expected to have a critical influence on the seasonal cycle of tourism revenue. Considering this, we re-construct the anticipated level of business based on local weather data and a formula = (sunshine hours) minus (wind speed) plus (1/3 x minimum temperature).

Climatic conditions indicate that tourism activity would be suppressed between August and November. For a small tourism business to remain profitable, two different staffing levels would be needed: a higher one for the December to July period and another for the 'low' season. However, it is not easy for owners to adjust costs when it involves people's livelihoods. There are a number of management techniques that could be used to improve the situation. These were conveyed to the owners during a briefing in August 2004:
- involve a key local staff member in financial accounting.
- regularly update staff members on profit margins and anticipated tourism demand.
- empower staff to adjust costs themselves by instituting a 'survivor island' type of voting system to reduce lazy or dishonest staff.
- involve staff in asset renovation planning during quiet periods. These techniques tend to put managers and staff on an equal footing.

There is a cultural issue that emerged during our study. The owners and managers of the dive camps in this border town are predominantly white South Africans. Although relatively liberal, they tend to underestimate the social maturity and management abilities of Mozambican people, who've had many generations of cultural interaction with the former Portuguese colonizers that uplifted their business and service skills. Managers tended to treat the workers like children, and relationships were strained at times.

On the other hand, the communist national government and its worker's unions do not recognize variability in market demand. They expect (staff) costs to be fixed throughout the year - a situation that is not viable. Hence there is a need for greater communication between business and government planners to account for these factors, particularly as approximately 1/3 of the Mozambican economy ($1 billion per annum) is driven by revenue from South African tourists.

Amenities in the border town of Ponta do Ouro are lacking with regard to road access, water supply and garbage removal, despite a population of 10 000 and an estimated tourism revenue of $ 3 million per annum. Municipal infrastructure in much of rural Africa is limited by overly-centralized government structures and no land tenure. The owners of tourism businesses at our study site have a one-year-at-a-time lease which inhibits investment in fixed assets, such as the replacement of reed huts. The borehole water is brown and quality analyses indicate a high bacteria content that 'turns off' many visitors.

1 = Campsite tap
2 = Community well
3 = Natural wetland
4 = Camp by school
5 = Motel do Mar
6 = Lake Zilonto
7 = Dive camp

A town water supply scheme is needed, and could be accomplished by augmentation of the pipeline network from Lake Zilonto to Motel do Mar. Given the lack of basic infrastructure, tourists' willingness to pay R 300 per day at the dive camps is on the decline. Hence decentralized planning and infrastructure delivery is needed, backed by land that is owned, not leased. The transformation of land tenure systems is happening all over Africa, for example in Tanzania where development at the local level is finally moving ahead. Mozambique need not be left behind.

Tourists preferences for improvements are shown in the graph below:

There is a need for the government conservation and tourism agencies to exert influence to enhance the chances for sustainable coastal development in Mozambique: in municipal transport planning (eg. grid for local roads), the zoning of land for residential and commercial development, and in placing certain areas off-limits for development (eg. dune forests south of the dive camps).

There is some dispute in the municipal plan for Ponta do Ouro between the local tribal leader, J. Tembe, and the local Frelimo government representative, Simeao. The plan (below) calls for a coastal strip that has formalized residential and commercial property development, and an informal area inland with no clear demarcation for roads and other amenities. The town lacks a central park, decent health clinic, municipal office, etc. Because land is publicly owned (by national government), there are infinite disputes amongst the leaseholders as to who has rights to occupy the land. This eliminates local sources of revenue that would otherwise be determined by property value.

The community market is poorly maintained (below) partly because of a lack of long-term leasehold rights, according to surveys conducted in April 2004 by Ms. Patricia Cuamba of the University of Edwardo Mondlane. The management system charges leaseholders a monthly fee, but they seem to get little for it. There is no water supply, no toilet, little refuse removal, etc. The entrance to the market is bare sand.

The Unesco project has identified a number of possible interventions in Ponta do Ouro:
Market improvement facilitation (led by Ms Cuamba)
Cultural event - dancing, music (organized by Ms Masinga)
School vegetable garden (led by UZ Agriculture Dept)
Community water supply (led by Prof Jury)

These will require a sustained effort and presence in Ponta do Ouro during 2005.

Scenic views of Ponta do Ouro Elena on internship.


See other articles related to the UNESCO pilot project on 'Development-conservation strategies for integrated coastal management in Maputaland (South Africa, Mozambique)'


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