British billionaire Richard Branson, owner and founder of Virgin Group, visited Madagascar last week to attend the first tourism fair organized by the National Tourism Office in Madagascar (ONTM), and to also work on a project to protect endangered lemurs. Although Branson enjoyed his time in the country, and even took an opportunity to play golf, he also had something else in mind. Branson wanted to open an air route between London and Antananarivo, and seek a lodge on the Big Island to come on Holiday.
To discuss these ambitious plans, Branson hoped to meet with Prime Minister Omer Beriziky during his stay. Before returning to London, Branson invited Beriziky to dinner; however, the Madagascan Prime Minister declined the invitation because he had planned a trip to Toamasina on June 9 to celebrate the 7th annual National Day of Nutrition (JNN), followed by a visit to Sambava on June 11 to meet with vanilla producers.
Beriziky’s priority to tour the provinces over meeting with Branson tells us a lot about his intentions to run in the upcoming presidential election, especially if Transition President Andry Rajoelina and his rival, former President Marc Ravalomanana, are prevented from running.