Interview: Siandou Fofana

In what ways will the Sublime Côte d’Ivoire strategy help strengthen the tourism sector?

SIANDOU FOFANA: The strategy focuses on three priorities.

First, the plan seeks to establish a significant territorial development outside of Abidjan. This development could unclog the metropolis of Abidjan and would allow the interior cities to benefit from the economic growth that the country will experience with the strengthening of the tourism sector. Second, the sector is to become a wealth generator and contribute around 9% of GDP. The global average for GDP in tourism, however, is 10.5%. In this context, our objective is to reach the global average. The third priority is to contribute significantly to job creation, with the objective to generate 315,000 jobs and involve more youth. Some CFA3.2trn ($5.5bn) will be mobilised, including CFA1.7trn ($2.9bn) from the private sector.

It is essential to attract the maximum number of tourists possible, and stakeholders such as restaurant owners, artisans and hotel owners will all benefit from the process. Therefore, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire is an asset for our economy that will attract income and help us to become a modern nation where wealth is well distributed among its people.

How can Côte d’Ivoire achieve its goal of becoming one of the five most attractive countries in Africa?

FOFANA: We have several defined reforms, most of which concern visa regulations and access to the territory. Equally important is the democratisation of the Ivorian sky, allowing low-cost and other airlines to enter the market, and lowering prices for greater competition. We believe that under Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan, roads and airports in the interior must be modernised with new terminals, offering departures and arrivals under the ideal conditions to successfully increase air traffic.

We must also deploy a health map that is in line with tourism policies, so that there are always first aid health centres within a 8-km radius. We cannot be the fifth most popular tourist destination if we do not have a distinctive brand that identifies us as a significant player in the field of hospitality and tourism.

What are the main developments that will support tourism in the coming years?

FOFANA: Côte d’Ivoire will be equipped with the most prominent theme park in West Africa. A large amusement park will be created to highlight African and Ivorian authenticity, with all kinds of native animals that inhabit our forests. Moreover, a water park will be opened in Jacqueville and Assinie, and we will build a marina next to the Cocody Bay with a virtual immersion recreation centre next to the water. Other infrastructure, like tourist villages and hotels to host the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, are also in the pipeline.

To what extent is the digitalisation of the tourism sector a priority for the government?

FOFANA: Digitalisation means undertaking a mapping of the sector with a presence of all the actors, making it possible to exert control on tax collection. It also means promotion. Africa in general, and Côte d’Ivoire in particular, must be prominent in this field and take into consideration the young and innovative population. Thanks to globalisation, this population has opened up to the rest of the world and wants to contribute to the expansion of our country.

Looking forward, we must launch start-ups and business angels related to tourism to promote the country. This will allow young people from modest backgrounds to fulfil their dreams, thanks to opportunities offered by technology and the support of the government in encouraging innovation. We want to make a digital promotional campaign in order to appear in search engines in the fields of tourism and leisure, and we want to see investment funds help our start-ups effectively stand out at a national level.