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A Red-bellied Lemur. Lemurs are one of Madagascar's tourist attractions.

Despite a high potential for tourism, tourism in Madagascar is underdeveloped. Madagascar's tourist attractions include its beaches and biodiversity. The island's endemic wildlife and forests are unique tourist attractions.[1]


Tourist attractions

Madagascar has world class tourism assets, and a high potential for tourism because of its biodiversity, unique wildlife, and long coastline.[2][3] It is the world's fourth largest island, with almost 5,000 km (3,107 mi) of coastline and a large continental shelf equal to 20% of the island's land area.[3] Tourism is concentrated in three areas; around the Madagascar's capital Antananarivo, and the islands of Nosy Be in the northwest and Île Sainte-Marie to the east, where beach tourism is the main tourist attraction.[4]

Madagascar has been isolated from the African landmass for approximately 165 million years and its flora and fauna evolved in isolation from that time onwards.[5] The island is one of the world's most biologically diverse areas,[4] with many endemic species. More than half of the island's breeding birds are endemic.[5] Other endemic species include the Red-bellied Lemur, the Indri, and the Aye-aye.[6] It is internationally renowned as a wildlife tourism and ecotourism destination, focusing on lemurs, birds, and orchids.[4] The Indri is the largest lemur species.[6] One of the best places to observe the Indri is the Analamazoatra Reserve (also known as Périnet), four hours away from the capital.[4] The presence of the Indri has helped to make the Analamazoatra Reserve one of Madagascar's most popular tourist attractions.[7] One family group of Indri in the park is habituated to humans and are thus easy for tourists for observe.[4]

Tourist numbers

Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital city.

312,000 tourists visited Madagascar in 2006. Since 1990, the number of tourists in the country has grown at an average rate of 11% each year. 60% of its tourists are French,[3] who form the majority of Madagascar's tourists because of cultural and historical links between the countries and flight routes.[2] Highly educated people who are interested in the country's botany, lemurs,[2] birds,[8] or natural history also make up a large part of its visitors. These visitors often travel as part of a tour and stay in the country for a long period of time. Most of Madagascar's tourism is low volume, high cost tourism.[2]

By the mid 1990s, tourism was the country's second largest export earner, bringing in US$50 million annually.[4] For 2007, tourism's contribution to Madagascar's GDP (direct and indirect impact) was estimated to account for 6.3% of GDP and 206,000 jobs (5.1% total employment).[3]

The tourist industry was badly damaged in late 2001 because of a political crisis and following economic recession. The number of tourists in 2002 fell, but the tourism industry subsequently recovered and continued to grow steadily.[2]

Development of tourism

There is growing interest in the country as a tourist destination.[2] The country has beautiful landscapes and the cultural resources to support tourism. These resources provide many opportunities for the development of both ecotourism and resort based tourism.[3] Despite this growth in tourism, its tourism industry is very small. Its tourist industry is much smaller than those of the neighbouring Seychelles and Mauritius islands, and is the smallest among the islands in the Indian Ocean.[2]

Madagascar's government has promoted tourism as an economic development strategy.[4] With over 70% of the country living in poverty, tourism is seen as a way to reduce poverty and provide economic growth. Tourism is currently the second largest foreign exchange earner in the country, and the government hopes to increase this share. Still in the early stages of development, there is large potential for the tourist industry to grow as Madagascar's infrastructure improves. The tourism industry has a number of large challenges. Travel and tourism is poorly diversified, infrastructure is poor, roads are poorly paved, and airline travel is expensive and unreliable. There are few high quality hotels, and less that meet international standards;[2] Madagascar has approximately 550 hotels, about 110 of which have been classified as meeting international standards.[3] Air Madagascar and Air France dominate air travel, which makes the price of flights expensive. The country's status as a long-haul destination further increases prices.[2]


  1. ^ David Newsome, Susan A. Moore, Ross K. Dowling, 2001, Natural Area Tourism: Ecology, Impacts and Management, Channel View Publications, p.63
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Travel And Tourism in Madagascar, Euromonitor International
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tourism in OECD Countries 2008: Trends and Policies, p.64.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Buckley, Ralf, Case Studies in Ecotourism, p.44
  5. ^ a b Sinclair, Ian; Olivier Langrand (2004). Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands. Struik. pp. 22. ISBN 1868729567.  
  6. ^ a b Miller, Ronald Irving (2004). Mapping the Diversity of Nature. Springer. pp. 41. ISBN 0412455102.  
  7. ^ Mantadia National Park and Analamazaotra Special Reserve, Birdlife International
  8. ^ On Madagascar, Hollywood, Like Evolution Itself, Barely Registers, New York Times.


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