Published On: Fri, Apr 21st, 2017

Bilene: Mozambique’s prime beach resort

Bilene-Mozambique’s prime beach resortfrom BERTA MADIME in Maputo, Mozambique

MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE municipality of Macia, which lies some 150 kilometres northeast of the capital Maputo, is Mozambique’s flagship tourism region.

Among the centre of attractions in this region in the Gaza Province is the Bilene Beach, or simply Praia de Bilene in Portuguese, which is on the shores of the 27 km long Uembje Lagoon, in the magnificent Mozambique Channel.

Although Gaza was highly affected by the devastating 16 years of a civil war that ended in 1992, it has been spared the resurgent conflict between government forces and armed militias linked to the former rebel movement, Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo).

However, even before the Renamo threats, the costs and lack of reliable infrastructure have always been issues causing tourists to overlook Mozambique, and Bilene in particular.

Those that have circumvented the setbacks and visited the beaches will confirm the comfort and serenity of the Bilene.

One of the international visitors is Fabio Passinho, a Brazilian tourist who spent a week at the tourist attraction.

“Bilene has extremely calm place. People are friendly,” says Passinho, who adds the place left a lasting impression.

“Although I stayed for only a week, Bilene left me very well impressed. I will surely come back again, next time with company.”

Among the locals that patronize Bilene is the recently-married Oscar Madyde from Maputo, who recently spent his honeymoon in Macia.

“I chose Bilene for the occasion because it is surely one of the best beaches in Mozambique. It is completely clean and calm. That is in addition to the warm reception enjoyed during the stay,” Madyde adds.

The tourists explain that Mozambique beaches are calm and the environment is friendly, with Bilene no exception.

Among other activities enjoyed here include jet skiing, scuba diving, sports fishing and water sports such as sailing and canoeing.

At the top end of the market, high-end resorts set on sun-drenched islands and surrounded by crystal waters cater for jetsetters willing to pay up to $500 to stay there at least a day.

Because Bilene is bathed by the Indian Ocean, seafood is a must.

There is nonetheless a vast diversity of dishes, from Portuguese mainly marine foods to Italian menus like pizza.

The other food draw card in Bilene is Mozambican traditional food, mainly peanuts and coconut stews were crabs are dipped for the delicious Matapa (Kassava leaves) with stiff porridge known locally.

The locals are influenced by the European and Asian cultures dating back to ancient times hence they provide visitors with food spiced with Piri-piri (local pepper).

The tourism industry is a major source of employment in the region.

About 400 people are employed in the sector in Bilene.

The number is seasonally adjusted, and rises in line with demand for accommodation particularly during the holidays.

Traditionally, Bilene draws most of its visitors from within the African continent, with countries such as neighbouring Malawi, South Africa (it is the closest beach destination to the city of Johannesburg) Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

These account for 64 percent of tourist arrivals in Mozambique.

The rest of the tourists come from Britain, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Pakistan, former colonial master Portugal and the United States of America.

Government forecasts the sector to grow and attract more visitors.

Minister of Tourism, Silva Dunduru, says the number of tourists visiting Mozambique rose by about 5 percent between 2015 and 2016.

“Tourism in Mozambique has sufficient strength to affirm itself as a strategic area in the economic development of the country,” says the minister.

He adds the government has recently approved further 18 border posts to issue entry visas to Mozambique.

“This means would-be tourists no longer have to secure a visa in advance, but can obtain a border visa on arrival, good for two entries over a 30-day period.”

Boasting such places as Bilene, Mozambique is well known for its beaches and other coastal attractions, sensational ecotourism products and a fascinating culture, with a rapidly growing integrated and sustainable tourism industry.

More than 58 000 workers are directly and indirectly employed in the sector.

Government’s vision for the industry is lofty.

“Our vision for tourism is that by 2025, the country is the most exotic tourist destination in Africa,” says President Filipe Nyusi.

CAJ News

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