Begining 2018, all EU passport holders will be able to travel to Cape Verde visa-free. The country's decision to exempt European Union citizens from applying for a visa is an effort to promote tourism. According to the Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, tourism is essential for the country's economy.
Several proposals were drafted to boost tourism and contribute to Cape Verde's economy. Besides lifting the visa requirement for EU citizens, the state-owned airline will be privatized and management of the airport will be greatly improved. Cape Verde also hopes to grow crops to export in order to increment domestic product. Correia e Silva said, "the dominant sector is tourism and we're making strong investments to improve the island as a destination." However, he also said that there's a need to diversify their economy so that they don't rely entirely on tourism.
Cape Verde is set 500 km west of Senegal. It's a beautiful island with a blend of mountains, beaches, and seaside villages. Sao Vicente is the cultural capital of the islands and visitors will be amazed to discover the volcanic landscapes in the southwest region. Music is an essential part of their culture and hospitality is a key element in their way of being.
This country is made up of 10 islands and has about 550,000 people. Cape Verde has attracted nearly as many visitors as its inhabitants in 2016. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the total contribution of tourism was estimated to account for 44 percent of GDP in 2016. Correia e Silva was elected last year and he promises to boost economic growth to 7 percent by the year 2021. Just recently, the council of ministers has approved financial incentives to promote investment from foreigners in the country.
Cape Verde's Debt: their biggest challenge
Cape Verde, a Portuguese colony until 1975, currently faces a large debt of concessional loans with the World Bank and African Development Bank as well as a debt with Portugal. However, "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." In 2016, Cape Verde's external debt was about 63 percent of GDP, which does place the country above the IMF's risk threshold which is 50 percent.
TACV Cabo Verde Airlines belonged to the state. However, it will be privatized and Correia's government has made Icelandair Group the airline's managing partner. Correia said that the airline had to be restructured.
Another goal of the current government is to expand the options available to tourists. This means that they would live to move away from the resort model into an industry where more people can benefit from tourism. Each island has unique experiences to offer and this will be significant in the way the islands are marketed.
Tourism is definitely an essential part of Cape Verde's economy. Correia e Silva sees the EU as a region that can benefit from Cape Verde's products, such as papaya.