Local tourism in Madagascar: continued

madagascar local tourism blogsherpa  Local tourism in Madagascar: continued Earlier, I wrote that we want to showcase on Madafan the challenges for local tourism, from a local standpoint.  To make things closer to how a tourist would approach his preparation for a trip to Madagascar, let’s see what are the ressources that I have available (as a reminder, we want to spend the holidays at the beach, in a place where we can cook…).

So, here is my list of  ressources:

- on the internet:

* you’ve seen me writing on my blog (www.madafan.com) about our goals. I know my blog ain’t read by lot of madagascar-tourism players, but it is redistributed to different places…

* on twitter (by the time I wrote this article, I have around 700 twitter followers who know I’m mostly tweeting about madagascar)- so I made my request for help on preparing this holiday with a link to my blog’s entry…I’ve got a follow-up with  AsistenTravel who is still working on preparing an offer,

* on facebook (where I have around 400 friends): except for some status updates, I sent some private messages to some friends I know who have been to the places I want to go to…

* direct e-mail contact:I e-mailed some regional tourism office. It has delivered mitigated results, some players respond in less than 48 hours, but I’ve got lot of “mail delivery return” as the e-mail address I received are not working anymore. I can’t believe such basic mistakes still happen, guys, it only costs you less than 10usd/year to have a google-apps-powered (gmail-like) e-mail address that you can keep almost forever even though you’re changing your internet service provider… Less than 10USD/YEAR… Come on guys, you can do it, it’s half of a taxi-ride from Nosy Be’s airport to downtown…

* internet research: I was trying to browse the internet so as to check which place has nice reviews- but since most reviews are made by international tourists, most of them refer to places that do not necessarily fit my needs (and constraints)

- offline:

To give a bit of background, I was considering nosy-be,sainte marie, diégo or taolagnaro.

* Annuaire du tourisme 2008: ok, that book is full of contacts, but as I am a “bit” internet-oriented, I skipped all contacts who have no e-mail or web-address, or whose e-mail addresses are hosted on obsolete domain names. The list of potential candidates shrunk a lot. You know, it’s good to have a sense of how “serious” a provider can potentially be by having online contacts … And moreover, I’m not into phoning (sorry for those who expect a call)… And the same issue on e-mail address not working came by too frequently (it even happened with Taolagnaro’s regional tourism office…Guys, don’t assign your personal e-mail to official contact because you’re only holding a tourism office position temporarily… Diego Suarez regional tourism office almost got it setup the right way- although there’s a typo on the e-mail address)

* then I have one Nosy-Be booklet edited by Carambole which clearly shows the different activities that can be done in the different  islands of Nosy-Be…

* Madagascar Guide officiel (or something like this, I’m a bit lazy finding out the right title)- edited by the national tourism board:  well it actually is meant for international tourists…

- info-tourisme magazine: it’s still a “topic-oriented” set of  articles that don’t really help on deciding where to stay- although it gives info on the new hotels or improvements made on different places/hotels/restaurants

Finally, I’ve read and compiled a lot of books/brochures/website and also contacted some people, but at the end of the day I couldn’t yet find out my best fit. Those who took the time to answer me sent some canned responses on activities that can be done, then end up asking me “how much is your budget?” when it comes to renting bungalows…Man, I
have no clue what’s the price I can set, though I’m asking you what’s available so as for me to decide on which items I can “work on” to have it reach an acceptable budget.
Moreover, I’ve been gently reminded that august/september is in the middle of the peak season, though prices are higher, and that tourism pros  prefer being paid in Euros than in Ariary… Well, thanks for being frank, at least I’ve been warned…however, from being enthusiastic, I now am a bit disappointed (though the tone in this article that is closer to what I used to writing on http://saveoursmile.wordpress.com) and I am now considering:
- either contacting local guides to plan those holidays for us,
- or moving to a different season since I feel like I’m not really welcome in my own country when it’s the peak tourism season
- or insisting on having some pro tour operators plan the holidays for us…
Anyway, the story goes on…it’s not over yet