Madagascar Larger Than Life, New Life for Madagascar's Tourist Industry?
Will new movie grow Madagascar's economy?
Tina Butler, mongabay.com
April 26, 2005
Studio heads predict Madagascar will make anywhere from 175 to 240 million dollars, providing high visibility to this remote island nation (Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said Madagascar test-screened better than the blockbuster Shrek). Beyond marketing the story of these characters, the unique natural environment and animals of Madagascar should have a significant opportunity to be exposed to a wide audience.
Out of Africa, a popular film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, was filmed in Kenya and the country saw a massive increase in tourism in the five following years. Madagascar will only see a similar increase and subsequent economic benefit from the film if enough money is spent to properly market the country in travel agencies and brochures as the film is released next month.
Currently, information on travel to Madagascar is difficult to come by, especially in the United States. While the island attracted 230,000 tourists in 2004, up from 160,000 the previous year, nearly two thirds of those numbers come from France, Madagascar's former colonial ruler. The goal for the country's nation tourist office is an annual 20 percent increase in the number of tourist, with a target figure of 684,000 in 2010.
An animated film can only take the audience so far. Those representing Madagascar's most promising new industry need to capitalize on this most timely marketing opportunity. Hopefully enough capital will be allocated for Madagascar to have its own big moment. For those interested in more information before or after the film is released, www.wildmadagascar.org provides a comprehensive overview of the country and its unique and beautiful wildlife. The film's website, www.madagascar-themovie.com/main.php, while fun and colorful, provides little pertinent information about Madagascar.