Jimmy Joharison

Executive Director of Madagascar National Tourism Board

World tourism has changed a lot in recent years. The Covid epidemic has devastated the economies of many countries that relied on tourism. We asked Jimmy Joharison, Executive Director of the Madagascar Tourism Board, leading tourism expert from Madagascar, one of the world’s most beautiful exotic countries, how it has managed to recover, at what pace and what lessons have been learned from the hardest years.

Can you briefly introduce ONTM with its role and missions? Who are its members?

ONTM is a recognized public interest association set up in 2003 and supervised by the Tourism Ministry. Its mission is to promote Madagascar as a tourist destination and enhance its image globally., It currently has 34 members, including the Regional Tourism Offices (ORTs), private associations and various tourism sector groups (tour operators, travel agencies, hotels and guest houses, restaurants, guides), one tourism training centre representative – INTH, one National Parks representative – MNP, and one airline representative – Madagascar Airlines, not forgetting the Tourism Ministry.

How did Madagascar’s tourism industry survive the Covid pandemic? What efforts did you have to make?

The Covid-19 pandemic posed significant challenges to the tourism industry worldwide, including Madagascar. To survive the pandemic, we implemented various measures that included promoting local tourism by encouraging the Malagasy to explore their own country, launching marketing campaigns to showcase Madagascar’s beauty on web platforms, maintain the destination’s visibility with international partners by strengthening ties with them, and implementing health and safety guidelines for the well-being of tourists and locals. 

What is the situation like now? Is it as good as before the Covid pandemic?

The situation is gradually improving now. We are working closely with the government and international partners to revitalise the industry and restore traveller confidence. While we are not back up yet to pre-pandemic levels, we are optimistic about the future. We’re getting there.

Where do most of your travellers come from? 
Do you want to grow/change this and if so, how?

Our key outbound countries are France, Italy, Germany, the UK and the Indian Ocean islands. We are currently opening up to other potential markets, such as Eastern Europe, Africa and India. We are actively engaged in marketing campaigns, attending international tourism trade fairs, and developing strategic partnerships to expand our reach and attract a more diverse range of travellers.

What makes Madagascar an inviting destination, from your perspective?

Madagascar is one of the key global biodiversity hotspots. 5% of the planet’s plant and animal species are found only in Madagascar. Given its natural potential, Madagascar is popular with all fans of unspoilt scenery and cultural authenticity. Moreover, we have an endless, breathtaking coastline 4,800 km long: white sandy beaches, fringing lagoons, rocky shores, perfect coves and huge bays. Furthermore, the Madagascar destination gives travellers a chance to indulge in luxury, joining exclusive hotel clubs, take part in MICE activities, enjoy adventure sports, take delightful river trips, explore ecotourism opportunities, and truly appreciate the charm of agritourism.

According to Forbes Magazine, Madagascar is one of the best destinations to visit in 2023. And recently, Travel Luxury Magazine also said Madagascar is one of the most captivating African holiday destinations for 2023. What strategic actions are you planning to keep up or even strengthen this recognition in the future?

We are extremely proud of these acknowledgements, and this is thanks to the involvement and resilience of all the tourism operators in Madagascar. As far as our actions are concerned, we are pursuing our promotional efforts, especially in keeping Madagascar prominent on the global tourism map. In addition, we are building up our relations with international tourism professionals by organising fam trips and attending overseas tourism trade fairs, both in B2B and B2C formats. Since the reopening of our borders in March 2022, we have specifically taken part in several events, such as the 2022 Top Résa  and Solidarissimo in France, the London 2022 WTM in the United Kingdom, 2023 Travel Exhibition in Hungary, 2023 Africa WTM in South Africa, and the Berlin 2023 ITB in Germany. Moreover, we successfully organised two fam trips, one in October 2022 and the other in June 2023, with over a hundred Tour-Operators and ten journalists/influencers. This year was marked by the return of the International Tourism fair of Madagascar (ITM) in June 2023, an event that serves as a major platform for the promotion of the destination and has greatly contributed to the revival of Madagascar’s tourism sector.

What is the best time of year to visit Madagascar?

 Madagascar welcomes travellers all year round, with no  Covid-19 related restrictions. Visas can be had on arrival. For further details, please see the ONTM website:https://madagascar-tourisme.com/en/