Island Destinations Rated: Africa
Introduction Africa Caribbean Region East & Southeast Asia
Indian Ocean Region Mediterranean North & West Europe
North America Pacific/Australia/NZ South America
Panelists exchanged comments, which were kept anonymous to maintain survey neutrality during the rating process. These lightly edited excerpts offer a glimpse of panelists' varied points of view and the reasoning behind each score. They are not the views of the National Geographic Society.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
"Beautiful—really spectacular. Dugongs, dolphins, and whale sharks all populate these waters. The islands were hit by cyclone Favio in 2007, which caused significant damage to parks, tourism facilities, and vegetation—now recovering. The World Bank's Transfrontier Conservation Area program and the proactive outlook of the municipality is encouraging in relation to conservation and local participation."
"Great environmental and ecological quality (seven whale sharks in one snorkeling afternoon). Tourism development is not well managed and is geared to the top 'white' end of the spectrum; the relationship to the locals is mostly servile. The area has immense potential, but it should be managed in a more sustainable way."
"Tourism development becoming increasingly inappropriate, with large Saudi investors completely uninterested in sustainability principles."
"It is important that overdevelopment is resisted."
"One of the few places with unspoilt environment, and tourism has not yet spoiled it. However the local population needs to benefit from it."
Canary Islands, Spain
"The state of smaller islands such as Hierro, Palma, etc., are extremely different from and in much better shape than the main tourism machines of Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife."
"Intensively developed, mass tourism, lower end of the market."
"Wide internal variation, even within individual islands; from high quality on all counts (e.g., El Teide volcano on Tenerife, some built heritage in Las Palmas/Gran Canaria or Santa Cruz de Tenerife, beach development in Playa Blanca/Lanzarote) to excessive and negative tourism development (as north shore of Tenerife) and conversely underdeveloped heritage resources (as Arrecife, Lanzarote). Tourism development thus of varying degrees of appropriateness and environmental/social sustainability."
"My scores would range from 80 for El Hierro to 40 for Gran Canaria."
"With the Mediterranean islands saturated, the Canaries might be the next target."
Cape Verde, West Africa
"By nature a desert . . . an extension of the Sahara way into the ocean. Perennial issue with shortage of potable water. Still, Cape Verde is a great place to spend vacations. Cape Verdean rates of education and indices for environmental health are higher than in most other West Africa countries. People are hardworking and entrepreneurial, but they also love to socialize and show their art."
"Tourists are NOT informed of cultural norms. Built heritage is good on Praia. Local people do benefit financially. Landscape and culture very appealing. Environmental quality poor."
"I was impressed with the kindness of the people there. Music is one of the main activities of these islands, and it's among the products that tourists buy a lot."
"Despite rugged topography, doing its best to preserve its environment. Its great strength lies in its cultural folklore."
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"More relaxed and less developed than Zanzibar. A quaint island dominated by the faint smell of clove trees. Concern is that development be managed to preserve the allure of the unspoiled beaches and outstanding diving."
"Culturally very intact, if too isolated from Tanzania, which causes political differences, and increases poverty.The rural life is subsistence agriculture, and fishing. There is a growing desperation by fishermen. The creation of PECCA, a marine foundation to protect Pemba's famous marine life, is well funded. Tourism, still in its infancy, offers Pemba many new ventures to keep alive an intact culture and lifestyle."
"Beautiful island, but limited beaches, lots of mangroves. Reefs good, but lack of fish due to dynamiting."
"Natural, remarkably unspoilt island environment. Green, hilly, the land fringed by mangrove forest waterways ideal for exploring by local ngalawa (dugout) boats. High marine biodiversity in Pemba Channel. High cultural integrity: Swahili Muslim society, mostly rural/small towns. Only few tourist lodges, near beaches, mostly high-end, generally cut off from main roads and towns. Other small guest houses/hotels of very low standard."
São Tomé and Príncipe
"Very high-potential destination for both natural and cultural resources, but with great threats including mass tourism developments and a total disregard for sustainability."
"Extraordinarily high-quality natural environment; moderately interesting culture/history; generally enlightened legislation; VERY weak or corrupt management of government policies and environmental protection."
"Wild, pristine, and grand! Impressive colonial heritage, but rapidly degrading. Serious lack of skilled tourism labor. Tourists are very ill informed about the locale. Outlook very pessimistic. Projects underway with probable negative impacts."
"Very beautiful country, impressed by its people, natural resources, but even more by their cultural heritage of the unique rosas—farms developed by Portuguese during the colonial time. Today the majority of them face critical situations to remain intact."
"Massive tourism development over the last 15 years, starting with small lodges and local guesthouses, but is increasingly taken over by mass tourism of the sun-sand-and-sea type that is driven by a government policy that favors large investments (minimum threshold for foreign investment is $4 million U.S.), coupled with corruption in the administration of licenses, leases, permits."
"Major worries: Stone Town's challenges in retaining original architecture; cultural clashes between tourists and conservative Muslim residents; increasing presence of big hotel chains (rather than small, locally run businesses); animal harassment associated with 'swimming with dolphin' tours. Overall, however, Zanzibar has much going for it: spice tours that showcase intersection of human life, history, and nature; Jozani forest seems to be managed well; tourists and locals mingle at Forodhani Gardens; many low-impact tourism activities available."
"Famous for the Swahili culture, particularly in the old town. Stone Town itself is very much under threat from modern developments. The beaches are also excellent, however, ecologically sound policies need to be put in place."
"It's a beautiful island, but is being rapidly developed for tourists, and local people do not appear to benefit very much. The island has mangroves, coastal forests, coral reefs, which are all in danger from development."
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