Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tourism in Angola?

"I am Angola, a land that holds great promise in the many avenues of travel, tourism and hospitality - growth industries destined to employ and involve an increasing number of my citizens as time marches on. I greet you and invite you to explore all corners of the land, where you will meet a cross section of my people, whose warmth and friendship will remain in your hearts and minds for a lifetime. "  (Promotional essay by Angolan Board of Tourism)

By its stereotype and past history of conflict, one would not immediately think of Angola of as being a tourist destination.  But now since the ending of the civil war, Angola has experienced a fascinating uplift of recovery, renewal, revival, and restoration.  Angola has now escaped the shackles and shadows of its topsy turvy past, and is now opening the doors to the world.

During my past years of flying as a pilot throughout the country, from my vantage point of the cockpit I was continually amazed at the country's natural beauty and the different climates, landscapes, cultures and colors.  I remember thinking to myself that, 'one day when this conflict is over, the outside world will be able to see the beauty of these people and their country."

Certainly, the greatest barrier to tourism in the past has been access and the affects of the war. The limitation to travel about the country and the decimation of the national parks and the wildlife had a negative affect on any tourism.  Now steps are being taken to revitalize the parks and industry.

One such tourism revitalization project  is Angola's Kissama National Park. This park,  measuring an area of 990,000 hectares, is one of the largest in the world and was once a hunting reserve.   Operation Noah’s Ark was initiated to repopulate the park with elephants, giraffe, zebra, and wildebeest, all transferred from wildlife reserves in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana to a restricted area within Kissama.  This restocking operation is one of the largest animal translocation projects ever attempted and will assist the local economy of peoples living around the area.

Now various travel writers are exploring and compiling more and more information concerning Angola, its tourism, and its sites.  One of the best is Brandt's Guide to Angola, which, at this point of access in the country, is the most comprehensive handbook.

Though I am not one to advocate or concentrate on the aspect of tourism above the real needs of Angolans, I am pleased at the national progress in this area.  I am confident that the growth and influx of foreign tourim will facilitate better internal infracturtures and assist local economies.   Additionally, it is my hope that the outside exposure to the real spiritual and medical needs of Angolans, as seen by foreigners as they tour the country, will encourage them to contribute to the cause of bettering the Angolan's lives.

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