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Developing the destination image

It was so good to see the article focusing on Ilha De Mozambique in the latest Skyways inflight magazine. (Airlink. August 2019 edition). However, isn’t it about time we moved away from the tired old ‘land that time forgot’ trope or in this case the ‘out-of-the-way island’ cliché. I’m not meaning to pick on Airlink, or the writer, I just think as a destination we have to try develop the right image and be careful not to get trapped in some outdated notion of what we are all about.

The article by Bruce Dennill focuses mainly on the historical significance of the island with just a faint hint that change may be in the air, but wouldn’t it be better to present a more contemporaneous description of this very special place and the many exciting changes that are happening here?

Like writers before him, Dennill is led by one of the local guides on an interesting meander through the narrow streets taking in the museum, colonial ruins, the fortress and other notable edifices. Along the way he observes “a slow gentrification process” and speculates on the possibility of Ilha becoming “the next go-to cool spot”.

But he fails to realize that the transformation process is well underway and, for better or worse, there are big changes going on all around. And it doesn’t just involve “the occasional foreigner” as he suggests, it’s a transformation involving yes foreigners, many of them, but also local people, every level of Government, NGO’s, local and International Universities, professional tourism operators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and many more individuals and organisations. It’s big!

I’d love to invite Bruce Dennill back to take a second look. It would be in everyone’s interest because on closer inspection he would see there are many reasons to encourage people to hop on a plane and visit Ilha, not just to peek into antiquity, but also to do adventure activities, interact with the spectacular marine environment through whale watching, wreck dives or fishing, enjoy fine seafood dining and stay in resort or boutique style accommodation.

Surely this is the news that South Africans lucky enough to have a daily Airlink flight to Nampula and easy connection to Ilha need to hear more about.


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