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Djibouti: Djibouti Tourism Profile


Djibouti - discover the mysterious country

Stable political and economic climate attracts investors

The image of Djibouti continued to improve as potential investors and business tourism to Djibouti registered further strong increase in 2013. The major international source markets were the European nations France and the UK, although regional tourism from neighbouring nations, inclunding Sudan, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates and Eritrea accounted for as much as 40% of arrivals, with nations such as China, Russia and the U.S gaining popularity as trading links with these nations became additional significant.

Prosperity of hotels contrasts with the poverty of the local population

The Kempinski and Sheraton hotels remained the key players in travel accommodation, attracting rather high-gain tourists (both leisure and business), although request for cheaper travel accommodation is an opportunity for development of this category in Djibouti. The local people, however, to a large extent (up to 42-45%, with up to 70% of unemployment part those under 30 years old) lived in poverty and could not afford high-class accommodation. Cheaper hotels could represent an opportunity for these demographics to become mobile and find a job.

Investment in airlines key to tourism development in Djibuti

Djibouti possesses a lot of tourist attractions and sites of natural beauty, although the government faces enormous challenges in realising the potential of these assets. For example, additional air routes are required, as these would play a vital role in boosting both business and leisure arrivals. A lot of companies operated from Djibouti Airport, inclunding Air France, Flydubai, Turkish Airlines, Kenyan Airways and Qatar Airways. Nevertheless, in 2013 there was still a shortage of flights to Djibouti.

Integration into the region requires diversification of business partners and help to promote travel and tourism

More connections to neighbouring nations (in particular Ethiopia and Sudan) helped the country to profit from its Doraleh port and Djibouti free trade zone area. However, at the same time, it imposed on local players the presence of external partners, which were considered to exploit additional opportunities. Thus, the government made a particular effort to attract European tourists in February 2013 and organised an educational tour for journalists in collaboration with the Sheraton hotel and Turkish Airlines.

Eco-tourism to become a potential driver for tourism development

In April 2014, the Djiboutian government launched a new loan programme in order to support the development of ecotourism by entrepreneurs through offering financial support aimed at boosting the tourism industry and utilising environmentally sustainable solutions. The programme will help operators of traditional hut complexes to build their properties as eco-bungalows using biodegradable materials and solar energy, and increase accommodation capacity in areas with high tourism potential. With this strategy the government aims to generate 30,000 direct jobs, compared with the current level of 4,500, and contribute additional than 10% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), as compared to the 2% registered at the end of the review period.

Djibouti is set to become the Dubai of Africa

Djibouti’s growing reputation is becoming internationally recognised. The country is gaining particular attention for its free trade zone, which is located in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. The country enjoys full stability and security in contrast to the current adverse security conditions currently being experienced in other African nations. Djibouti benefits from a strategic location which enables the country to act as a bridge between Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The country established its free trade zone in 2004 and is presently looking to establish further business not only in importing and exporting but as well in other areas such as telecommunications, banking and travel and tourism. Djibouti has the potential to be Africa’s answer to Dubai. The country is not only aiming to be a major trading hub through its sea port and existing related businesses, it is as well planning for major development in travel and tourism. The only potential downside to this is that currently there are only limited air connections to Djibouti. Additional air routes to and from Europe and Russia are being encouraged, and there is hope that airlines from Europe could any minute at this time start flying to Djibouti, which will have a positive impact on travel and tourism inclunding bringing additional business investors and leisure tourists to the country.

Flying due to Djibouti

Dubai’s initial low-cost airline flydubai began its initial regular direct service to Djibouti in 2009. Djibouti is considered to be an significant trading destination and has commercial links with Dubai mainly through its sea port. Flydubai flies three times a week from Dubai to Djibouti and the new route will have a positive impact on both business and leisure tourism, providing a boost to all travel and tourism categories. In addition, Dubai is a key investor in Djibouti as the country’s significant sea port is managed by Dubai World Group.

The world’s major natural spa

Djibouti has the potential to be the next large holiday destination for anti-stress and relaxation tourism. The destination is expected to be very popular for travellers who are seeking to relieve stress as the country has a lot of beautiful lakes such as Lake Assal, the world’s third major saltwater lake. Furthermore, Djibouti benefits from a great climate all year around. Contrary to popular opinion, Djibouti is not all deserts and hot sticky weather. A lot of visitors are surprised at the incredible views of the white landscape and white salt glaciers. There is only one major hotel which offers great activities for travellers, the 5-star Djibouti Palace Kempinski. There is hope that a new natural spa destination for anti-stress and relaxation tourists could be a very popular destination on a world scale if it were well promoted and with the new direct flight from Dubai, which takes only three hours, Djibouti should expect to receive additional inbound travellers in the near next.

Doraleh could become a popular world destination

Doraleh in Djibouti is expected to see massive development in the near next with huge projects consisting of a new national-of-the-art container terminal inaugurated in February 2009, a new oil terminal and a large free trade zone, all of which is expected to attract international companies interested in African markets. Once the project is completed, developments in travel and tourism are expected to follow, particularly hotels, housing, restaurants and car rental. Further secondary effects include the creation of additional jobs, improvements in railway infrastructure and increases in airport passenger and cargo traffic.

Improving rail transportation

Djibouti and Ethiopia are planning to revive rail transport in the two nations, something which has been neglected for a long time. The Governments of the two nations are determined to improve the currently less than ideal situation of the Djibouti-Ethiopian Railway Company (CDE), as this is the only railway connecting the Capitals of the two nations. The project to replace the railway was commissioned by the European Union at a cost of EUR80 million and should have by presently been finished, but delays have occurred due to the world economic crisis which resulted in an increase in the prices of raw materials. An extra project is the construction of a new railway linking the new port of Doraleh with the existing railway. This project will get underway following the completion of a study currently being conducted by the Djibouti Government and railway engineering company SYSTRA, a joint venture between the French rail companies SNCF and RTP. The project will be funded by the French Development Agency. Once the railway is restored and improved, there should be an increase in business travel, particularly between Djibouti and Ethiopia, in the near next.