- The archipelago of Cape Verde is improving its positioning as a tourist destination. According to the latest official statistics, tourist arrivals continue growing at a rate of 22 percent and it is projected that Cape Verde will reach the benchmark of 1 million tourists annually by 2015. By now, the tourism industry contributes with 10 percent into GDP.
The Cape Verdean government, in its latest cabinet meeting, especially focused on the current situation and development of the tourism sector and concluded that current trends are "extremely positive". The cabinet had been encouraged by the favourable new numbers released by the National Statistics Institute (INE), which rounded up the economic trends of the sector in the last trimester.
According to the spokeswoman of the Praia cabinet, Cristina Fontes Lima, the numbers of tourist arrivals continued to increase at an annual rate of 22 percent. INE projections had suggested that by 2015, around one million tourists would visit the archipelago annually.
"This means that the sector could start contributing with 30 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in contrast to the current 10 percent," she said, adding that "continuing the dynamic development of the sector, it could employ 53,000 people, demonstrating that there will be more economic growth and more employment."
Looking at the current level of investments in this sector, Ms Fontes Lima explained, "one understands why the government may remain optimistic regarding its growth targets." This, she said, was being "confirmed by several tour operators and, recently, in the international forum on tourism, where several experts were participating that confirmed this tendency."
The cabinet spokeswoman further revealed that in 2006 alone, Cape Verde authorities had approved of investment projects totalling US$ 300 million, "which remains a promising indicator" of economic growth. A great part of these approved investments had been in the booming tourism sector.
Ms Fontes Liman also announced policy decisions made at the cabinet meeting and passed to the Ministry of Economy. The Ministry was instructed to fast-track its works to present a strategic orientation on how to project, coordinate and plan for this boom in an adequate manner, how to diversify the tourism sector and a plan on how the different islands were to benefit from this dynamic.
For the first time, the Praia government also indicated the necessity of a popular debate surrounding the development of Cape Verde a tourist destination, having in mind the importance of the sector for the future development of the country. This, Ms Fontes Lima said, could end up in a common national vision and correcting and clarifying various disputed issues.
In particular the creation of several Zones of Integrated Tourism Development (ZDTI) had caused controversy, although only one such zone had been created since 2001. Now, as more are planned, government would include this issue in a national debate.
Planned developments indeed are far greater than current achievements. Since 1993, the state of Cape Verde has sold out lands for tourism development equivalent to around one percent of the national territory. Planned establishments on the islands of Boa Vista and Sal would occupy 15 and 17 percent of the islands' surface respectively, including landscape modelling zones and new public infrastructure.
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