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Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

International soccer star Didier Drogba has helped his birthplace, Côte d’Ivoire, strike gold.

Drogba received MOUs for a total of $15 billion in commitments to back tourism projects in the West African country.

This breakthrough is coming ahead of the UNWTO Forum for Africa and the influential Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA) holding in Abidjan next week.

FIHA is known for its ability to link up the new investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.

The former Chelsea striker – and now UN world tourism ambassador – was part of a successful global push to promote the rising success and attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire’s tourist economy.

The country boasts a GDP growth rate of about 8% in 2019, and as a destination, it’s in third place in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2 million international visitors, behind South Africa and Zimbabwe, ahead of Uganda, Botswana, Kenya or Mauritius (according to UNWTO 2018 data).

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, which organises FIHA, said: “This is an extraordinary and impressive effort by Côte d’Ivoire; and it makes this year’s Forum particularly interesting because the funding commitments are in place and the task now is to make projects happen.”

Under the banner, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, Didier Drogba was a key player in a team of top Ivorian business and political leaders, as well as show business figures, who took a roadshow to Dubai and Hamburg.

They returned with more than 15 billion dollars of funding commitments for a variety of tourism projects, from hotels, to resorts and coastline development.

Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, said: “It’s a blank page that the industry can write on in the most exciting way. Much has to be built – hotels alongside cultural centres and conference facilities, among other things. The amazing coastline offers great ‘bleisure’ (a mix of business and leisure) opportunities. Beyond Abidjan; Boulay Island, Bassam and Jacqueville are currently the most promising locations.”

“FIHA and its affiliated event, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, are central to driving investments in regional hotel and mixed-use projects,” Bench Events, Managing Director, Matthew Weihs noted.

The events connect key international and regional stakeholders, private and institutional investors to the hotel developers and operators that are fuelling the growth of the hotel industry across the continent.

“The projects that are promoted and funded at FIHA drive investments in tourism, stimulate economic growth in regional markets, create jobs and encourage much needed infrastructure,” he added.

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