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An update from Evaneos

What is the situation in Madagascar today?

Madagascar has undergone a long period of political unrest between supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana and the president of the "High Transitional Authority", Andry Rajoelina. The latter probably is probably the first person in the world to go from disc-jockey to president of a republic. That is no small feat...

This period ended recently with the election of Hery Rajaonarimampianina (I always love trying to pronounce Malagasy family names), who took office on 25 January 2014. Unfortunately, the poverty of the country and its political instability have fostered the development of corruption and clientelism. The illicit export of rosewood (a protected species), precious stones, etc., often involving senior officials, have undermined the economy of the country. I hope with all my heart that this election will change the daily life of the Malagasy, who are often very far removed from the petty political concerns of the capital...

Local politics has little impact on travellers

The political situation of the country has little impact on the daily lives of travellers who visit Madagascar. The Malagasy know where to draw the line and the few clashes during political disturbances in the past have never involved foreigners. Madagascar is a country where it is possible to travel without any specific difficulties. In almost a year of criss-crossing the country in all directions, the biggest "problem" that I have encountered is certainly the 6 hours of waiting in a bush taxi near Mahajanga - the time that it took for the workers to finish building a bridge across a river...

Lemurs of Madagascar

The importance of tourism for the island

Because of the urgency of forest conservation in the face of rampant deforestation, priority is now given to policies of development related to strategies for the preservation of biodiversity.

More clearly, this means that more and more projects are carried out to link environmental protection and local development. The voyage of discovery plays a full role in this type of project, for example through the establishment of protected areas and national parks which aim to create employment for the local population and protect natural resources. During my work in Madagascar, I have come to realise the extent to which tourism can have an impact on the lives of the inhabitants. A well-managed tourism project, in consultation with the local residents, can really have a positive impact on the local economy and the protection of the environment. On the other hand, a 5-storey hotel on the coast is much less relevant...

An ecotourism destination with many strengths

Because of its wealth in terms of species, landscapes and culture, Madagascar is today turning towards nature tourism, or green tourism. The main motivations of travellers to the island (including me!) are the observation of its unique flora and fauna, as well as the discovery of Malagasy culture. The term "ecotourism" takes on its full meaning here, and there are more and more public and private initiatives that lead in this direction.

Personally, I cannot imagine a trip to Madagascar without observing lemurs in their natural environment, hunting for orchids in the forests (but without causing any casualties!), or wandering around a village with a guide who explains the daily life of the inhabitants.

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