Cape Verde Offers Visa-Free Travel for EU Citizens in Bid to Boost Tourism
European Union citizens will be exempt from needing to visit Cape Verde. The West African archipelago wants to boost tourism that is vital to its economy.
Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva said that Visa-free access for EU passport holders should begin in 2018. This is only one of several proposals that includes privatizing the ailing state-owned airline, improving management of its airports and growing crops for export so that gross domestic product can expand at a faster rate than the forecast of 5 percent for this year.
“The dominant sector is tourism and we’re making strong investments to improve the islands as a destination,” Correia e Silva said. “We also want to diversify the economy so that we don’t put all the eggs in the tourism basket.”
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the total contribution of tourism was estimated to account for 44 percent of GDP in 2016.
The current governed has some ambitious aims such as to boost growth to about 7 percent by 2021. For this end, the council of ministers approved financial incentives for foreigners to invest in Cape Verde, which will include residency.
“It’s not just for tourism, but it’s to facilitate the mobility of investors, academics, culture, science and technology,” Correia e Silva said.
The government wants to solve the “biggest problem” of the country which a “relatively high” external debt due to the concessional loans with the African Development Bank.
“The rates on the debts are low but they’re still a constraint — our strategy is to reduce the stock to levels that are more sustainable,” he said. External debt was about 63 percent of GDP last year, above the IMF’s risk threshold of 50 percent, and the organization estimates it will fall to 59 percent by 2020.
Correia e Silva wants to privatize the State-owned TACV Cabo Verde Airlines which is “practically insolvent”. “When this government came in, it was very clear that the airline had to be restructured,” Correia e Silva said. “We want to develop this relationship so that there will be participation in TACV’s capital,” he said, mentioning also that they want to get concession partners to manage airports as part of its plans to position the archipelago as an aviation hub.
The current government would like to move tourism from a resort-concentrated model to an industry that will see each of the islands provide different offerings.
The West African archipelago does not want to lose the opportunity for niche agricultural products like papaya fruit, said Correia e Silva.