Your Highness the Aga Khan
The Minister of Tourism
The Members of the Council of Ministers
The Governor of the City of Maputo
The Chairman of Maputo Municipal Council
The Heads of Diplomatic and Consular Missions
The Representatives of Regional and International Organizations
The Representatives of the Entrepreneurial Community
Ladies and Gentlemen
We are before a work with an outstanding presence, a magnificent architecture and such comfortable interiors that we are all impressed and charmed. European in its conception, of African constitution and raised to enrich the landscape of this Pearl of the Indian Ocean and of the bay that is its veranda, the Polana Serena Hotel fills the imagination of its beholders and, deservingly and most proudly, claims for an outstanding place among the best hotels in Africa and among the most famous ones around the world. Some 88 years after its first opening and some 20 months after the beginning of its restoration works, the Polana Serena starts a new phase of its history, ready to cope with the challenges of the dynamic, increasingly competitive and demanding Mozambican hotel industry. We wish, therefore, to thank Your Highness the Aga Khan, the Serena Group, the management and workers of the Polana Serena Hotel, for this decision to carry out significant works in order to keep this property suitable for the most demanding guests who may visit this Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Ladies and Gentlemen, Tourism plays a fundamental part in promoting the social and economic development of our Beloved Motherland, generating jobs and income. Indeed,
- We have cases of communities that have worked to build and manage community tourism enterprises;
- We have cases of fellow citizens who could not afford a regular income and who are nowadays regular or seasonal staff in tourism resorts, - Working in construction or in the maintenance of equipments; - As gardeners or plumbers; - As cooks or waiters; - As tourism guides or assisting in activities such as diving and fishing in high water.
The cascading outcome of the increase of their income has allowed these families increased access to goods and services, which could not be afforded before, due to the lack of financial resources. They can have a better home and a means of transport, their children can pursue their studies – they have a better life. If before they were dependent on subsistence farming or fishing, today they have an activity that increases their income. We have conditions to attract and diversify tourism activities in Mozambique, and therefore to make sure that more fellow citizens may find a source of income and take a more active part in the struggle against poverty and in favour of our wellbeing:
- We have conditions for improving the sun and beach tourism along our extensive coast line, with the many havens of its islands and its idyllic bays.
- With the increased number of flights and the improved capacity both for accommodation and events, we have significantly improved the conditions to propel business tourism;
- To the tourist, we also offer the chance, rare in the world, to connect the hunting tourism to the sun and beach tourism;
- Cultural tourism has been growing due to the increased understanding of our skills, our historic, cultural and artistic heritage and of our culinary. Today there are many local festivals attracting more and more national and foreign tourists;
- To the geographic details fit for adventure, add the idyllic landscapes to be found by all those who look for beauty, peacefulness and harmony with Nature.
These are just a few among the many pages of our tourism which, together with the traditional hospitality of the Mozambican people, always with a fresh smile, make this country one of the most privileged destinations of the worldwide tourism. This is a fact evidenced by the arrivals to Mozambique. Our country has to change this tourism potential into a valuable contribution towards the social and economic development of our Beloved Motherland. And regarding these features, the Polana Serena Hotel is acknowledged and applauded.
We are pleased to see that other tourism initiatives do their part, exploring such potentials and opportunities and contributing, therefore, to achieve the Tourism Development Strategic Plan. The development of tourism structures is an important step towards the exploration of our tourism potential but it may be not enough to ensure the competitiveness at the local and international levels. Therefore, we have been increasing access, building more roads and connecting different national administrative units to the national electricity network. We have also been expanding information and communication technologies, including the radio, television and fixed and mobile telecommunications.
In our investments list we have included the construction of sanitary units with high technology in order to respond to complex emergencies. Within the scope of tourism in Mozambique, I am also pleased to say that the Law of Civil Aviation, enforced as from the 1st of January 2010, has enabled the increase of flights from and to different parts of Mozambique. Today we have more flights connecting different cities in the country and to foreign destinations.
We are also pleased to understand how the transforming force of tourism brings change and improves the quality of life of our wonderful people. Tourism is, therefore, an important tool in the struggle against poverty, both in rural and urban areas. Ladies and Gentlemen, We reiterate our appreciation to His Highness the Aga Khan and the Serena Group for the restoration, and while retaining its original features, of the Polana Hotel, a splendid architectural work in our capital city.
To all those who gave their valuable contribution to the making of this project, the contractors, the supervisors, the workers, we express our gratitude and encouragement that you may get involved in other similar efforts, which might reaffirm the status of this Pearl of the Indian Ocean within the sector of high quality international tourism. To end, we wish to invite the Serena Group and other national and foreigner entrepreneurs to invest in the Areas of Touristic Interest, this meaning those areas that have been selected for tourism development. Seven of these areas have been identified in the provinces of Inhambane, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado. We wish to invite you to build more hotels and resorts, to further multiply the worldwide tourism references provided by the Polana Hotel.
Thank you very much.