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Published on : Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Usually at this time of the year hoteliers, tour operators and shop owners at Mozambique’s Indian Ocean resort towns are very busy preparing for a deluge of visitors and tourists.White-sand beaches, pristine coral reefs and luxury hideaways attract travellers from neighbouring South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, and from farther afield for the southern hemisphere’s summer holidays.
After more than two decades of peace, just over two million tourists now visit Mozambique each year, accounting for six per cent of the economy in 2012.But in recent weeks clashes have intensified between fighters from revived rebel group Renamo and the army in the centre of the country.
Kidnappings and a low-intensity conflict with troubling echoes of Mozambique’s civil war are threatening to scare away tourists from the country. It is the worst violence since Mozambique’s brutal civil war ended in 1992.
Most resorts are clustered south of the conflict zone, but military skirmishes and attacks on cars travelling along a 100km stretch of highway south of the central city of Beira have spooked many.”Everybody is concerned. Everybody is asking us and we are telling them we sit and wait,” said Boet Boshoff, who runs a lodge just south of the restive area.
At least two passenger buses have been set alight, and passengers and truck drivers have been shot at. The violence seems to be escalating and that isn’t good at all in any way for tourism.