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Benin: Benin Tourism Profile

2015/02/27

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Benin is developing beach, eco and cultural tourism

Benin is blessed with a beautiful natural environment. Being a tropical region, it has an abundance of wildlife and rainforests, inclunding the Parc de la Pandjeri and Parc W national reserves. It as well has a long Atlantic coastline, which is attractive to beach tourists. The Fishing Road project along 32km of this coastline is an ambitious initiative to attract beach tourists. The country, which has a rich history, is home to the Ouidah Slave Route, inclunding the Royal Palaces of Abomey, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The government expects to attract an increasing number of African-American and African-European tourists, a lot of of whose ancestors were deported through the Ouidah Slave Route.

Ban on all local airlines by EU to further strengthen Air France’s monopoly

All airlines operating in Benin were banned from flying into the EU next failing an audit in 2009. This is the new in a series of bans imposed by the EU on airlines, mostly African, failing to meet safety standards. As a result, Air France’s monopoly on European routes will continue and prices are expected to remain high, which will likely prove a deterrent to tourists.

Privatisation of hotels initiated in expectation of superior hotel service levels

The government, which acknowledges the poor quality of the hotel infrastructure in Benin, has privatised Hotel de la Plage in an attempt to improve the quality of its services and thereby attract additional tourists. The hotel will be refurbished and subsequently relaunched as a 4-star hotel. Further similar privatisation initiatives can be expected over the estimate period and beyond.

Opening of Ibis hotel intensifies competition

The opening of the 100-room Ibis hotel saw the number of international hotels in Benin increase to three. Being the least expensive of these, Ibis should prove attractive to the additional budget-constrained tourist. As a response to the opening of the Ibis, Benin Marina Hotel has undertaken a massive upgrade. The quality of services offered by hotels in Benin is improving as a result of increased competition.

The Fishing Road as a driver for the national economy

The government is investing heavily in tourism-related projects, most notably the Fishing Road public private partnership project, which has been budgeted at CFAF131 billion, but is expected to generate revenue of CFAF191 billion. The goal is to develop a 32km stretch along the Atlantic coastline to attract tourists, which will include the construction of 2,000 new hotel rooms by 2018, inclunding 4- and 5-star resort hotels, a marine village, cultural villages, golf courses, a wildlife park and plotted villa development. The beaches of Fidjrossè, Togbin-Adounko, Avlékété and Djègbadji have been identified as the locations for four tourism development centres, with the project alone expected to create 9,000 jobs.

Infrastructure is the top priority for the government

The government of Benin is focusing on the development of the country’s infrastructure, following an investment of approximately CFAF327 billion in the road infrastructure in 2013, representing 20% of its national budget. The country is planning to invest additional than CFAF134 on several road infrastructure projects in 2014, covering 234km. Furthermore, construction of two airports began in 2013: Tourou Airport in Parakou and Glo-Djigbé Airport in Jolome. Sea connections are as well being developed through the development of the facilities of ports in Cotonou. These projects will significantly boost the travel and tourism industry within Benin.

Travel accommodation development hampered by low occupancy rates

Despite the investment into the introduction of new hotels in Benin, there is competition between those by presently looking to attract incoming tourists, with Benin Marina Hotel, Novotel and Azalai Hotel de la Plage all finding it difficult to maintain sufficient occupancy levels. Due to the cost of flight tickets and car rental, European tourists try to look for less expensive solutions at the same time as it comes to travel accommodation.

Ecotourism and cultural tourism are key attractions for tourists

Benin has increasingly embraced ecotourism and organisations such as Benin Ecotourism Concern (Eco-Benin) created in 1999 with the objective of ensuring better living standards for the communities at local and national level through ecotourism and eco-development promotion as a sustainable management of natural resources, keep working throughout the country by developing and implanting innovative approaches, inclunding opportunities for local employment, garden production and fish cultivation. The majority promising areas for ecotourism development are in the wildlife reserves of Pendjari and W national parks, which are located in northern Benin.

Legislation in favour of the importing of over 3-year-old cars contributes to the development of car rental

Despite projects to ban the importation of over 3-year-old cars in some nations in the region, the government in Benin is actually allowing car rental companies to import additional cars, which is contributing to the increase of the category. Moreover, car rental firms are presently investing in better vehicles and developing the levels of service offered to clients. Additional players are offering online services, but the evolution of the internet within Benin is still not sufficient to significantly boost the category.