More than a year after he hung his football boots, Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba is still scoring goals.
Only that this time, The African King The Drog is scoring it outside the pitch, but still for his country. Drogba has helped the tourism sector of his country, Côte d’Ivoire, land USD 15 Bn worth of investments. He used his influence to collect MOUs to back tourism-boosting projects in the West African nation.
Though he has stopped striking since November 2018, Drogba is an ambassador for UN world tourism, a position he’s held since October last year. He’s apparently not doing a bad job at promoting tourism, especially for his birthplace. The star was a vital part of a successful push to put the success and attractiveness of Ivorian tourism under an international spotlight.
The USD 15 Bn score comes at a very interesting time. UNWTO finished holding its Forum for Africa in Abidjan at the end of last week. The event was facilitated by Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA) – an influential group which links up investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.
But FIHA was not alone. Horwath HTL, the world’s largest and most experienced hospitality consultants, has been guiding the efforts in Côte d’Ivoire. The brand, which has been in business since 1915, told WeeTracker that Didier Drogba was the right candidate for the task because he’s the Francophone country’s number one star.
“However, other opinion leaders are involved to support the initiative including the fashion designer Alphadi, who dressed Madonna for her 60th birthday party in Marrakech last year or Magic System, Ivory coast’s leading pop group,” said Philippe Doizelet, a Horwath HTL consultant who used to work with KPMG.
The organizers of the event told WeeTracker that Didier Drogba delivered a keynote speech at an Investment Forum held in Dubai last fall. At the forum. he was a source of encouragement for tourism investments. However, most of the efforts were carried by Siandou Fofona, the Ivorian Minister of Tourism.
Despite high cost of flights from Europe and mandatory visa procedures, Ivory Coast ranks as one of the leading tour countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – according to the UNWTO – with over 2 million international tourists.
According to the UNWTO, for 2018, Ivory Coast ranks 3 among Sub-Saharan destinations after South Africa and Zimbabwe and on par with Nigeria by its international tourism arrivals. In this context, Abidjan positions mainly on business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).
The city has hosted international events since 2012, including the Africa CEO Forum in 2018, the EU/AU Summit in 2017 and the Francophonie Games.
An exhibition centre is still lacking in Abidjan, but the construction of congress and exhibition centre nearby the airport has been announced, and the first phase planned to open in 2021.
Tourism is seen as Ivory Coast’s third economic pillar, asides from the agriculture and energy sectors. Thanks to having an actual cost, the sector shows tremendous potential, but many thanks also to the cultural diversity of its hinterland.
The country’s grand scheme for tourism forecasts that 4 million tourists will come in by 20205, bringing in more than USD 1.5 Bn.
The new USD 15 Bn includes a series of assets that will include the development of hotels, exhibition centers, waterparks, seafronts, resorts, tourist routes, retail centers and eco-tourism development.
WeeTracker has learned that most of the companies that signed the MOUs are Special Project Vehicles. As such, the resulting partnerships will not be common knowledge, but discussions are being held with top consultants, lenders, and operators to make tourism a big game.
One of the most valuable things a celebrity – like Didier Drogba can do when raising funds for anything is to help attract the right people.
Investors, like the rest of us, like to meet well-known individuals. It’s no surprise that Tito was able to draw in this win for his country even after winning a total 10 trophies during his football career.
“So, when a financial roadshow comes to town with a high-profile person present, they may show up, seeking an autograph for their children or numerous other reasons.
After that, it is down to the tourism minister and his professional team to pitch the investment opportunity well,” David Tarsh, Managing Director at Tarsh Consulting, told WeeTracker.
Abidjan, Boulay Island, Bassam and Jacqueville are the parts of Ivory Coast that are most likely benefit from this mega boost. These cities are bound to be hit big by the funding, and the tourism could take a drastic turn.
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