US News Covid-19: Madagascar is closing its borders, the tourist sector is blaming it

08:50  25 october  2020
08:50  25 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Depuis huit mois, les restrictions sanitaires liées au Covid-19 ont mis un coup d'arrêt au tourisme à Nosy Be. © RFI / Laetitia Bezain For eight months, health restrictions linked to Covid-19 have put a stop to tourism in Nosy Be.

After a resurgence of coronavirus cases in tourist areas, Madagascar is closing its borders to passengers from 16 countries, including nine from Europe. While the reopening of the borders by the authorities in Nosy Be since October 1 had given hope to this island which lives mainly from tourism, this decision sounds like a halt for operators in the archipelago sector.

With our correspondent in Antananarivo, Laetitia Bezain

The recovery was timid since the reopening of the borders three weeks ago, but the tourist operators of Nosy Be , the main island of an archipelago of paradisiacal islets offshore from the northwest coast of Grande Terre, were hopeful.

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However, a negative COVID - 19 test may still be required. Bulgaria — has welcomed back tourist from 46 Tourists from these countries must meanwhile submit a declaration acknowledging the have been informed Cyprus resumed tourist travel on June 9 after closing its borders for almost three months.

Spain will also close its borders later while France is considering more stringent lockdowns. Meanwhile, the European Commission has President Emmanuel Macron - who criticised the countries who were taking unilateral border control measures - will address the nation at 19 :00 GMT.

A recovery that seems to fall apart with these new passenger restrictions. “We were very excited to be allowed to reopen our border and all of a sudden there is this information. We are disappointed and this will slow down the recovery a lot in the future, especially since we thought that in December there would be a lot of customers, as usual. But there is no hope ”, laments Nirina Annika, the manager of the Nosy Be Original agency, organizer of excursions.

Eight months without work or money

This border closure concerns 16 countries, including nine Europeans . We can cite in particular Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Russia. Areas from which tourists who go to the archipelago come from, explains Hermann, a local guide in Nosy Komba. “Most of our customers here are Europeans. When we heard that flights from these countries would not be allowed to come here, all the inhabitants were completely dejected, he explains. Nosy Komba lives 100% from tourism. At the beginning of the month, when we started to see tourists arriving, even if they were few, it gave us a lot of hope. But there, we do not know what to do. It's been almost eight months since we have had a job and no money. We received no help. I try to do some cultures to get by because there are no clients in tourism. »

A passenger restriction that some hoteliers find it difficult to understand. Health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are strict, they point out: among other things, mandatory PCR tests before departure and on arrival on site. Then a confinement at the hotel while waiting for the results.

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© Sarah Tétaud / RFI Nearly 19.5 billion ariary were spent in the regular framework of procurement related to the fight against the coronavirus and its repercussions since March 2020. Around ten reports of embezzlement related to Covid funds collected by the State have already been sent to the Independent Anti-Corruption Office. Their numbers are expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks.

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