Seeking bilateral partnerships to boost travel and tourism
Travel and tourism in Gabon is gradually growing but is still in its infancy. Until a few years ago, little effort had been put into developing this industry, despite its enormous potential. However, the government has now taken a proactive approach to fully utilising the nation’s tourism potential. It is seeking partnerships with popular tourist destination countries in order to boost travel and tourism as well as develop the industry in a sustainable manner. Seychelles is one of the countries in Africa with a successful travel and tourism industry and is currently assisting Gabon to set up its national tourism board, develop tourist guide material and also train hospitality staff. This will help open up Gabon’s travel and tourism industry, as well as increase its visibility as an emerging tourist destination.
Economic diversification through foreign direct investment
Gabon’s economy is centred on the petroleum industry, which continues to account for approximately 50% of real GDP and 80% of exports. However, a recent decline in oil export revenue due to global economic recession has highlighted the need for the country to diversify its economy so that it is not overly dependent on oil. The oil and mineral-rich nation is witnessing an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) thanks to measures put in place by the government to encourage investment in other sectors of the economy, including travel and tourism. Partnership agreements have also been signed with emerging countries such as China and India to help expand not only the private sector but also to further boost growth of the Gabonese economy.
Huge boost in infrastructure ahead of the AFCON 2012 tournament
Gabon will be co-hosting the upcoming 2012 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament with Equatorial Guinea and stands to benefit a lot from this event. In preparation for the influx of visitors, the nation is currently upgrading and expanding its travel and tourism infrastructure, especially in terms of hotels and transport. Road development projects and the rehabilitation of airport infrastructures are being carried out. Besides that, hotels are also undergoing revamping and a new classification system has been put in place to help boost hospitality quality as well as attract more visitors to the country. The on-going infrastructure boost will help to attract more visitors and also inject a new vigour in Gabon’s campaign to market itself as an attractive tourist destination.
Government initiates measures to combat corruption
Since taking power in October 2009, Gabon’s newly-elect President Ali Bongo Ondimba has been embarking on measures to root out corruption that plagued the country under the former president, his father, who held office for forty-two years. Over the past few years, the oil-rich African nation has been making international news headlines for the wrong reason, namely corruption. The government was accused of not curtailing high incidences of bribery and corruption taking place in the country, especially in the public sector. However, with the country’s judiciary system being reformed and increased anti-corruption activities being implemented, this could help to bring good governance and enable transparency in Gabon.
Promising outlook for travel and tourism in Gabon
Gabon is on the right track to benefit from the growth in its travel and tourism market thanks to its enormous untapped tourism potential. The country’s oil and mineral reserves will continue to be the main attraction for business travellers during the forecast period. The forthcoming 2012 African Cup of Nations soccer event is also expected to attract a lot of visitors to the country. The government plans to continue promoting the development of travel and tourism by marketing Gabon’s tourist products at home and abroad. In addition to that, efforts to diversify the economy will further enhance growth and enable sustainable development in the future. Nonetheless, comprehensive planning is required to sustain the prospects of overall growth.
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