Updated on July 19, 2022 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

The natural beauty and ecological diversity of Madagascar make it feel like a country forgotten by time. It is one of the last major areas on Earth to be settled by humans. Madagascar is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Due to Madagascar’s extra ordinary natural diversity, its nickname is “the eighth continent”.

Madagascar is best known as a destination for ecotourism and nature and wild life tourism. Since 1990, despite some ups and downs, the number of tourists in the country has grown at an average rate of 11% per year, in 2019, 375,710 tourists visited the island. However, Madagascar’s tourism is not fully developed and as a destination, it is yet to be explored.

In this article, we will describe some of the top trends and statistics in Madagascar’s tourism industry.

Covid-19 and the tourism industry

Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 hit Madagascar suddenly in 2020. Starting March4th, 2020, Madagascar implemented preventative measures, placed restrictions on international travel and borders were closed to the world. Although restrictions were loosened slightly in November of 2020, the country has since brought forth stricter measures once again. As of March 2021, it is mandatory to wear face masks in public places, gatherings are restricted, and international flights were suspended. Not surprisingly, the Madagascar economy has been greatly impacted, challenging a country that already struggles with poverty.

Pre and Post-Pandemic statistics

  1. Before the COVID-19crisis, Ankarafantsika, where Planet Madagascar runs its programs, was one of the most popular sites for first-time visitors to Madagascar.
  2. Since the crisis began, the local tour guides are struggling to maintain their livelihood.
  3. With travel restrictions in place since the pandemic began, Madagascar’s tourism trade has collapsed with more than half a billion dollars lost in tourism revenues.
  4. In 2020, France was the most common country of origin for tourists in Madagascar.
  5. In 2020, about 17% of all people arriving in the African country were from France. Italy, Reunion, Germany, and Mauritius followed.
  6. Madagascar tourism statistics (International tourism receipts by international inbound visitors) for 2019 was 951,000,000.00 US Dollars, an 8.19% increase from 2018.
  7. Madagascar tourism statistics (International tourism receipts by international inbound visitors) for 2020 was 202,000,000.00 US Dollars, a 78.76% decline from 2019.
  8. In 2020, travel and tourism accounted for nearly 7% of total employment in Madagascar.
  9. That year, there were over 540 thousand jobs in travel and tourism in the country, despite a decrease of about 32% compared to 2019.
  10. According to the Council of Ministers, on July 13th 2022, the Malagasy government authorized the resumption of commercial flights from Reunion to Fort Dauphin and Tulear.
  11. From April 11, 2022, Five main airports in Madagascar are now able to take international and regional flights, i.e. Antananarivo, Nosy Be, Majunga, Tamatave and Diego.
  12. The Malagasy government aims to reduce the cost of return flights to Madagascar, as reported by this Council of Ministers. One of the measures taken is more frequent flights between Antananarivo and Paris.

Contribution of tourism to Madagascar’s economy

  1. In 2019, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (% of GDP) for Madagascar was 16.1 %.
  2. The contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP (% of GDP) of Madagascar increased from 6 % in 2000 to 16.1 % in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 6.83%.
  3. Madagascar recorded a total of 87,100 tourists in 2020, ranking 173rd in the world in absolute terms.
  4. On average, each of the tourists arriving in 2020 spent about 1,961 US Dollars.
  5. With 0.0031 tourists per resident, Madagascar ranked 200th in the world. In Eastern Africa, it ranked 16th.
  6. Madagascar generated around 202.00 million US dollars in the tourism sector alone.
  7. This corresponds to 1.4% of its GDP and approximately 5% of all international tourism receipts in Eastern Africa.

Tourism industry insight

  1. Despite an inconsistent approach to regulating tourism from the Madagascar government, there are several organizations operating programs to develop the tourism industry.
  2. Oftentimes these programs are related to conservation efforts as wildlife is a principal attraction of Madagascar.
  3. The Lemur Conservation Foundation is promoting ecotourism in northwesternMadagascar by creating ecotourism infrastructure such as campsites, and partnering with many parks and communities nearby protected lemur areas.
  4. The global NGO Conservation International is working towards alleviating poverty, protecting bio diversity, and actions to slow climate change to also protect the well-being of the Malgalypeople.
  5. Association Mitsinjo is a locally-run organization that was formed in 1999 by residents in east-centralMadagascar from the village of Andasibe, whose goal was to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors in the region.
  6. Association Mitsinjo is operating primarily in Mitsinjo Park, they provide tours, campsites, and eco-tourism-related resources for travellers.
  7. Practising ecotourism is one of the most promising ways to generate a consistent income and promote a higher standard of life and provide employment for the Malagasy people.
  8. One of the most robust benefits of ecotourism is that local communities receive 50% of park entrance fee profits.
  9. The rest goes to the NationalAssociation for the Management of ProtectedAreas in Madagascar, which is now called the System of ProtectedAreas for Madagascar. Additionally, MadagascarNationalParks, founded in 1991, operates 46NationalParks, SpecialReserves, and NatureReserves which visitors can visit on their trip to Madagascar.
  10. There are also 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Madagascar.
  11. Travellers need to do some research beforehand if they are interested in Madagascar travel with an eco-friendly mindset to not negatively affect the island’s culture and environment.
  12. There is a recentlyestablished eco-tour of note is in the fishing village of Kivalo, located in the Menabe region.
  13. This is a unique regional effort by local eco-guides to bring tourists on tours to native mangroves, lemur, and birdsight-seeing on boats.
  14. They’ve built up infrastructures such as reception buildings, campingareas, and sanitation facilities, catering to support increased tourism levels.

Other tourist-related trends and facts

  1. Lemurs can only be found in Madagascar, making it historically one of the main draws for travellers to visit.
  2. A trip to Madagascar can include viewing the natural scenery, relaxing on a beach, or going scubadiving and will satisfy adventure-lovers and beach-goers alike.
  3. For a short stay or a gap year, living in Madagascar is not that difficult unless you are very particular about food or hotel quality.
  4. Visitors can have a good and affordable meal for €5 (USD$6.25), and rooms start at around €12 (USD$15).
  5. Visitors can spend even less if they eat local food.
  6. Because of this, many Europeans have decided to spend their retirement here, as they can live far better in Madagascar than in Europe.
  7. A digitalnomad can easily work and travel here at the same time.
  8. Madagascar opened its surf school in 2003 in Mahambo, and while the island is ideal for beginners, it’s also a must-see surf trip destination for advanced surfers too.
  9. Isalo is Madagascar’s first wildlifehotspot for extreme adventures and sensational views in the wild. A whole week may not be enough to see it.
  10. Visitors can also help the country through volunteering such as they can teachFrench or English to children in remotevillages, helpingenvironmentalNGOs with scientificresearch and above all, working in the humanitarian sector by helping non-profit organisations which look after sick children from impoverishedareas, most of whom suffer from critical illnesses.
  11. Kobacake is one of the most traditional Malagasyfoods, it is made of peanuts and riceflour.
  12. In a western society where people tend to prefer European-style dishes, the brown Koba cake has recently gained a prestigious place among desserts during luxuryweddings, being presented with vanillaicecream.
  13. Between July and September, Sainte-Marieisland is the best place to admire a whole legion of humpbackwhales where females come to calve in the warmsea.
  14. For those who are interested in culturaltours in Madagascar, some amenableculturaltoursmixingcultures and discoveries are AmbohimangaRovasacredhill, ZafimaniryAntoetratour, TheFamadihana, exhumation, CircumcisionSambatra, Malagasynewyear, etc.
  15. The MiniatureStudio, in the city of Antisirabe, is an interesting palace to visit where visitors can watch a livedemonstration of miniaturebicycles, cars, and rickshaws with recycledmaterials.
  16. ZebuHornWorkshop is a must-visit place where artists create decorativeornaments, cutlery, and other artworks from zebuhorn.
  17. Visitors are treated to a live demonstration of the creation of a decorative spoon at ZebuHornWorkshop with no charge for the demonstration but visitors are encouraged to buy a little something from the handcrafts studio.
  18. The Famous Anteimoro paper factory is the perfect place to buy for loved ones something special from Madagascar.
  19. The Malagasy people make hand-loomed and delicatesilkfabric at SilkWeavingStudio in Anbalavao, and it is a fascinating process to watch for tourists.