The pandemic has arguably introduced several changes into both our personal and professional routines. Apart from the newly discovered respect for hygiene and ubiquitous germophobia, it encouraged us to look at things on a grand scale and generalize quite a few processes. This is only natural given that things were going pretty badly pretty much everywhere during 2020 – why differentiate if the results are dismal anyways? However, this might not be the right approach after all because, as we all know, the devil is in the details.
What exactly does this mean when talking about the performance of a whole continent? Well, for starters, one should not expect homogenous results – with or without the pandemic. The case of Côte D'Ivoire is a good example. Being the fastest growing economy in French-speaking Africa, the country kept attracting investors’ and developers’ attention even during the covid-19 crisis. The government’s attempts to support the tourism sector – “Sublime Côte D'Ivoire”, an ambitious strategy aiming to position Côte D'Ivoire as a top-5 African travel destination – further contributed to fueling this interest, previously somewhat cooled down by the calamity.
As a result, the sector ended up contributing more than 3.5% to the total GDP in 2020 (and 7.5%, 1500 billion CFA francs before the pandemic), which is a robust statistic, given that the tourism industry experienced a 90% decrease in activity on the global level. However, despite the country’s highly competitive hospitality industry, the lack of quality supply is still quite drastic. According to the data from WTO (2017), there are more than 2000 hotels in the country, with a total capacity of 38,000 rooms. However, most of that supply is located almost exclusively in Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire’s economic capital, which drives a significant amount of business tourism.
These factors mean that there is still a lot of room for growth in this West African country. The Africa Pipeline report from W Hospitality group placed Côte D’Ivoire in the top-10 countries with 15 hotels under development and over 2300 rooms in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Erwan Garnier, Senior Director Development, Africa in Radisson Hotel Group, notes three main opportunities to address in this market: restoring the owners’ and operators’ confidence in the sector in the post-pandemic era, capitalizing on the air travel expansion, and investing into the facilities for business travel.
Overall, despite a significant blow due to the worldwide travel restrictions and a general economic slowdown, Côte D'Ivoire managed to fare better than many of its neighbors. Its relative independence from the raw materials and lower contagion levels during the latest coronavirus wave put the country in a good position with prospects of a high growth rate – over 6% in 2021 according to some experts. While Côte D'Ivoire’s ambitious aim to attract roughly 5 million visitors by 2025 may be a bit far-fetched, tourism remains high on the country’s priority list, which signals the strong potential for the long-term development of the hospitality industry.