There are very few natural places left on this planet to meet the growing global demand for exclusivity in the provision of eco-tourism destinations. The below synopsis describes a rare opportunity to share and invest in one of them: the beautiful, unspoilt, tropical island of Moheli, which forms part of the Comoros Islands archipelago, lying between Mozambique and Madagascar in the Western Indian Ocean.
The island of Moheli is within four-to-five hour flying time of Cape Town, Lagos, Cairo, Dubai and Mumbai.
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“A sustainable specialized tourism island of international standing”
Developers: Marble Hill Comoros (“MHC”)
12-15 year project for the development of Mohéli Island, located in the Indian Ocean off the north coast of Madagascar, andthe smallest of the four major Comoro Islands,into a high-end sustainable tourism zone, consisting of 13 zones situated along the island’s coast.
The first phase consists of 2 specific development projects
1. A new build, 30 suite, 4/5* hotel on the north of the island - Moimbassa Beach (including Administrative and Sales Office). This will be the hub of the “Moimbassa Beach Village”.
2. The refurbishment and improvement of an existing, state owned hotel - Laka Lodge - offering immediate access to the “Mohéli Marine Park”, located adjacent to the village of Nioumachoua, on the south coast of the island.
A Business Plan has been compiled to demonstrate MHC’s funding requirements for the next 3 years, which includes the development funding of the above 2 projects.
Short-term goals –
a The completion of the Moimbassa Beach project, (will have been running for 12 months and producing healthy revenue);
b Completion of the Laka Lodge project (which will have been running for 30 months and also producing healthy revenue);
c 36 months of marketing the Mohéli Shores brand;
d The completion of a detailed “whole of island” strategy for Mohéli;
e Planning approvals for the first 3 zones, and ownership of the land;
f Operator license contracts placed and off-plan sales of land and facilities exchanged.
The project calls for nothing short of a major development of the island to make sustainable eco-tourism the main economic driver of the island’s economy, with sensitive attention being given to the impact on the indigenous population and the environment, enhancing the economic prospects of the former whilst protecting the integrity of the latter, appreciating them both as core assets in the success of the project.
The phased development plan envisages a major upgrading of the island’s infrastructure, including fresh water, power and waste management facilities; transport to, from and within the island; marine and beach development; housing, educational, medical and commercial/retail facilities; cultural, nature and sporting facilities; and administrative infrastructure for the management of sustainable eco-tourism. (See ‘Leisure & Eco Tourism Development. Island of Mohéli, Comoros Islands’ map: by RBA for Marble Hill Developments Ltd.)
Development plans include the renovation and restoration of tourist sites and attractions (heritage, historical and cultural); embracing niche products such as golf, spa and wellness, duty free shopping, establishment of marine parks, etc.); and events creation (golf events, festival international Creole, sports events, and celebrity events).
The following documents have are included: Marble Hill Comoros Certificate of Incorporation; Marble Hill Comoros FSC License; Comoros – Law on Investment Code, and; Mwali Framework Agreement and Assignment (extracts).
Country Profile – Mohéli, Union of the Comoros
Mohéli (211 sq. km.) is the smallest of 4 major islands. The others are Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Mayotte. Mohéli’s population is 38,000 (2006) - a synthesis of Bantu, Arab, Malay and Malagasy cultures,and the main religion is Sunni Islam. They speak Shikomoro (a Swahili-Arabic blend), Arabic (official), French (official) and literacy is at 56.5%. The capital city is Fomboni and the island has a Tropical marine climate.
The Union of Comoros has been ruled by President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, since 2006, following a democratic election, regarded as free and fair, and is currently enjoying a period of political stability. Mohéli also benefits from an elected and stable local government. The Comoros Islands are a republic, being independent from French rule since 1975, although Mayotte remains under French administration. Executive - national president and regional island presidents. Legislative - National Assembly. Judicial - traditional Muslim and codified law from French sources. Suffrage: Universal adult. Comoros has its own currency - the Comorian Franc.
Comoros is among the world's poorest and least developed nations.
GDP: $419 million. Annual growth rate: 0.5%. Per capita income: $720.
- Agriculture (40%): vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, banana, cassava, coconuts.
- Services (56%): Commerce, tourism. Industry (4% of GDP): – mainly perfume distillation.
- Exports - $7.9 million: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, and copra.
- Imports - $36m (1998): rice, petroleum, meat, wheat flour, cotton textiles, and cement.
The country lacks infrastructure necessary for development. Some villages are not linked to the main road system or, at best, by tracks usable only by 4WD vehicles. The ports are rudimentary. Ocean-going ships must lie offshore and be unloaded by smaller boats; dangerous during the cyclone season, and ships are reluctant to call at the island. Most freight is sent first to Mombasa or Reunion and trans-shipped from there. Comoros has an international airport at Hahaya on Grande Comore.
France, Comoros' major trading partner, finances small projects only. The USA receives a growing % of Comoros' exports but supplies less than 1% of its imports.
Comoros has a 500-member police force, as well as a 500-member defence force. Crime levels are very low. A defence treaty with France provides naval resources for protection of territorial waters, training of Comorian military personnel, and air surveillance. France maintains a small maritime base and a Foreign Legion contingent on Mayotte. In 1975, Comoros became the 143rd member of the United Nations, and is a member of the African Union, the European Development Fund, the World Bank, the IMF, the Indian Ocean Commission, and the African Development Bank.
Tourism Development in Small Island Developing States
Analysis of the impact of tourism in small island developing states (SIDS) identifies the level of net benefits, e.g. foreign exchange earnings and domestic value added per visitor, will depend on the size and the degree of economic development of the island. Tourists cannot spend money on an island that does not offer products and services to buy. So, for the economy to reap wider economic benefits from a growing tourist industry it must also invest in the economy as a whole, starting with infrastructure – roads, airport and seaport facilities, as well as water, power and waste management. The contribution of tourism to total export earnings in 23 SIDS countries ranged from a meagre 2 per cent to 83 per cent; in 13 of them it exceeded 25 per cent.
Investment in tourism produces a higher and faster increase in employment than equal investment in other activities, and a knock-on effect in industries providing goods and services to the tourism industry. Mediterranean and Caribbean SIDS are more advanced than those located in the Asia-Pacific and African regions.
If properly managed and promoted, local cultures can be given an impetus by the presence of tourists.Tourism can assist in preserving customs and cultures by providing incentives to invest in and promote them. On the contrary, sudden, rapid development of tourism can cause significant social disruptions in SIDS.
The fragile ecosystems of SIDS make concerns for the environmental impact of tourism very acute. Intensified human interference with vegetation and wildlife can lead to irreversible damage to their valuable ecosystems and to traditional activities, such as fishing. Treatment and disposal of liquid and solid wastes constitute a major challenge.
Stipulations of building size, with limits on height and room capacity, and specifications of design and materials used in construction, have been instituted in an effort to correct past errors and ensure better harmony with the natural environment. Beach destruction caused by intensive sand mining for tourism-related construction is also a feature of many coastal areas. Freshwater and power availability and sensitivity to climate impact (rising sea levels or hurricanes, etc.) and waste management are major ecological considerations.
A necessary requirement for the pursuit of sustainable tourism development is an effective legislative framework. SIDS need to manage both the social and environmental impact of tourism, but also the financial impact. Wage distortion, inflation, repatriation of profits by international investors and fluctuations in import/export trade need to be understood and managed. SIDS often sufferfrom a lack of local capital for bulky investments and, in many cases, the absence of a significant local entrepreneurial class.Investment funds are often controlled by foreign operators. SIDS can raise funds through local taxes on tourists, such as airport and airline ticket taxes, and VAT targeted on goods and services used by tourists.
Most SIDS suffer from an inadequate supply of trained manpower, particularly in government agencies responsible for the implementation and monitoring of standards and environmental regulations in tourism. There is a need for greater African regional cooperation in the area of sustainable tourism development through an integrated sub regional policy – such as for air transportation.
Tourism provides an economic rationale for safeguarding the natural environment. Diversifying the tourism product can also benefit the protection and conservation of these sites.
The Comoros government and private sector have prepared the institutional groundwork with the adoption of a national environmental policy document (1994) and an environmental plan of action, and the creation (1995) of the Association Touristique Comorienne. The implementation of these plans, however, is subject to a number of constraints, including poor levels of infrastructure development, particularly hotels, poor air and communication links and some degree of political instability. The main constraints have been a lack of interest by the local and foreign private sector; a lack of demonstrated support by donors for the tourism development plan, and limited domestic financial resources.
Sustainability in tourism is gradually becoming a matter of sound business practice. To date, most efforts have focused on energy and water conservation, waste minimization and product purchase. New tourism developments will more often incorporate improved plant designs, and energy-efficient features that will enable greater natural lighting, natural cooling of accommodation facilities, and waste treatment and water recycling. NGOs, community groups and local authorities are becoming more involved in sustainable tourism development in SIDS.
To achieve the vision, the developers have identified five strategic pillars or drivers, underpinned or anchored by three foundations. The three foundations are, nation building, growth and value creation, equitable and fair distribution among stakeholders. The five pillars are; international rim positioning; establishing hard and soft infrastructure enablers; investment in catalyst projects; establishing a strong institutional framework; and the creation of a strong regulatory authority, ensuring Socio – economic equity and buy- in from the local population.“A sustainable specialized tourism island of international standing” is a commitment “to create sustainable development, which has taken in to consideration the needs of all its stakeholders, and subsequently to enhance the quality of its community’s life without, compromising the ecology of the environment. It also commits to creating a livable and attractive environment for residents and visitors”. Core physical development design principles include; equity; quality of life; safety and comfort; protection and management of natural environment; culture and diversity; and partnership.