MOZAMBIQUE– Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario has urged owners of tourism projects located within conservation areas to establish partnerships with the local communities.

Speaking at the closing session of a three-day international conference on Nature-based Tourism here over the weekend, he called for mutually advantageous partnerships between tourist operators and communities, which would contribute to inclusion in access to and the use and management of ecosystems.

Involving the local communities ensures a greater sense of ownership and thus helps guarantee the sustainability of nature-based tourism projects, said the Prime Minister. When the local communities are involved in conservation projects they can play a fundamental role in preventing and fighting against poaching and other practices that damage the environment,” he added.

Rosario urged investors to prioritise the participation of the communities, and called for the responsible use of natural resources so that future generations can also make use of them.

Your participation in this event shows an interest and a willingness that together we can attract more investment to the conservation areas,” said Rosario.

He that in order to improve the business environment in Mozambique, the government was simplifying the procedures for licensing economic activities. It is also reducing the procedures required to obtain entry visas at the country’s borders, and is preparing to introduce electronic visas.

We are convinced that these actions, implemented in a climate of peace, associated with the current macro-economic stability, will contribute to an environment that is increasingly favourable to private investment,” he added.

During the conference, the managing director of the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), Mateus Mutemba, signed four management agreements with international conservation bodies and companies.

He told the media that the Peace Parks Foundation, based in South Africa, will support the management and development of the Maputo Special Reserve, and the Ponta de Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, both in the far south of the country. This is based on a strategic development plan with initial funding of 16 million US dollars.

A memorandum of understanding signed with African Parks, which has offices in South Africa, Holland and the United States, opens room for an agreement within a year under which ANAC and African Parks will jointly manage the Banhine National Park in the southern province of Gaza, and the Quirimbas National Park in Cabo Delgado in the far north. Currently African Parks manages the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, off the coast of Inhambane province.

Agreements were also signed with the companies Becol and Blue Ocean to develop tourist resorts on Bazaruto island in southern Mozambique.