There’s been a coup. Is it safe?

safe?Tourists have been scared off as foreign officials panic.

Source: Sunday Times, April 5th 2009 – Paul Ash

Following the recent coup in Madagascar, a number of countries have issued official notices warning their citizens not to travel to the island. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office notes, “There has been political unrest in Madagascar since January 2009. There have been violent incidents and looting in Antananarivo and regional centres across the country, resulting in a number of deaths.”

Both the unrest and the consequent warnings have delivered a heavy blow to tourism, the country’s main forex earner. However. Harriet Joao, owner of MadagasCat Charters and Travel, believes the problem has been overstated. “If the African Union, United Nations, European Union, SADC etc all cut Madagascar off from aid then it is possible there will be more unrest,” Joao said. “However, we firmly believe that the country still is, and was throughout the past few months, a safe destination. If you wanted to be threatened by the unrest you would have had to go and hunt it down.”

Joao noted that the violence has been limited to May 13 Square and the presidential palace in the centre of Tana. “Most tourists avoid Tana, connecting from their international flight to their domestic destination. Even if one has to overnight in the capital there are some great hotels well removed from the centre.” Joao believes the foreign office advisories from Britain and Europe have done more harm to the people and the tourist sector of Madagascar than any other political unrest. “The Malagasy are not a violent people, own no firearms, and despise hurting each other,” she said.

Source: Sunday Times, April 5th 2009 – Paul Ash

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