ANTANANARIVO, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Madagascar plans to attract 1 million tourists by 2020, the minister of Tourism Ramanatsoa Benjamina said on Tuesday.
"The number of tourists who visited Madagascar was 256,000 in 2013 while the neighboring island Mauritius recorded 993,106 tourists. But compared to Mauritius, Madagascar has most assets to attract tourists," the Malagasy minister of Tourism told Xinhua.
Amid the political crisis which exploded in Madagascar in 2009, tourists visiting Madagascar dropped to 163,000 in 2009 from 375, 000 in 2008. But it went up to 196, 000 in 2010 before climbing to 225,000 in 2011 and 256,000 in 2013.
"Madagascar collected only around 300,000 U.S. dollars from its tourism revenue in 2013. And Tourism should be the source of revenue to be exploited for Madagascar", the minister said.
To develop tourism in Madagascar, the ministry of Tourism proposed several strategies, including creation of touristic village, make Madagascar as afroasiatic touristic hub, restructuring of Madagascar's flights, capacity building of staffs of the ministry, promotion of vocational training focusing on tourism sectors as restaurants and hotel, and facilitate the administration processes in tourism businesses.
The minister said Madagascar's President Hery Rajaonarimampianina promised to make the tourism as lever of development of the Indian Ocean island country when he was sworn in as Madagascar's president on Jan. 25, 2014.
To reach this goal the minister said that Madagascar needs around 30 million U.S. dollars but they do not have enough money to do it.
However, the minister announced that many international organizations as the United Nation Development program, the French Agency for development (AFD) and other already promised to help them.
Benjamina said that the tourism occupied 3 percent of Madagascar's GDP, while latest GDP recorded in the country was 10. 8 billion dollars, according to the data released by the World Bank.
The tourism generated 13 percent of jobs in Madagascar or 36, 716 direct jobs and the country plans to create more 27,903 new jobs by six years to reach the total of 64,619 jobs in 2020, according to data from the ministry.