The volcanic island archipelago of Cape Verde is one of only five island nations on the continent of Africa, and the only one located off Africa’s Atlantic coast. This gives it a strategic location on air and sea routes, which primes it for growth in the coming years. All indications are that tourism will be central to this growth.
Tourism in Cape Verde is one of Africa’s success stories over the past 20 years or so. In 1996, tourism comprised less than 10% of the country’s GDP, barely making a mark on the country’s economic output. 20 years on in 2016, this figure had moved to 45% - remarkable growth and an indicator that has made everyone sit up.
There are several reasons for this growth story, not least the development of international airports at Boa Vista in December 2007 and in Cape Verde in late 2009. Improvements at Porto Grande have also facilitated cruise liners. The final part of the jigsaw is tourism infrastructure, as exhibited by the Iberostar Club Boa Vista.
The Iberostar Club Boa Vista opened in January 2010, just two months after the inauguration of Boa Vista International Airport. As a 4 star Hotel boasting an outstanding location on Praia de Chaves, one of Cape Verde’s finest coastlines. Its arrival on the scene heralded an important step in the Cape Verde tourism growth story.
A 5-star culture in Cape Verde
The arrival of the Iberostar Club Boa Vista was a landmark in Cape Verde’s tourism for several reasons. After just one year in operation, it achieved a 5-star rating. A country which a few years before barely registered tourism now had a world class tourism resort catering to international guests with customary West African hospitality.
There’s a huge knock-on effect on local industry as a result; the 200 people employed at the hotel resort at any one time are trained in the highest standards of hospitality; restaurants, shops and ancillary services have all opened nearby, bringing new life to an area which provided few opportunities to its young people just a few years before.
The cooperation between hotel management and local authorities is also stimulating development in tourism infrastructure in the locality. Tourism is one sector where the addition of competition can actually aid those already in the market, and more hotels in the area have the potential to be advantageous to Iberostar Club Boa Vista as well as the local economy.
Employing locals isn’t enough for management at the Iberostar Club Boa Vista: the employees have to be well looked after. Happy, well-looked after employees are essential in the tourism sector. The notion that employees are treated as part of a large family at the resort is apparent as soon as anyone walks through the doors.
There is also a comprehensive training program which employees undergo which puts them among the most highly trained in the region. Locals, whose native language is Portuguese, are also exposed to language in Spanish, French and English - creating opportunities for them in other sectors and in turn, bringing Cape Verde to a global audience.
Elsewhere, the company does its utmost to respect the outstanding natural environment where it finds itself. It uses sophisticated technology in-house which minimizes energy usage, including state-of-the-art instant water heater devices and LED light bulbs across its buildings. Its management is constantly looking for means to lower its energy output.
The Iberostar Boa Vista Resort has counted on a number of partners since opening its doors, and even before. An essential part of providing a 5-star service is being able to count on 5-star suppliers. A small island archipelago can create obvious logistics challenges, so the resort needed partners that it could depend on all year round.
Thankfully, it was able to find such a partner in Emicela, its most important food and beverage provider. Emicela is a local firm with experience in the European hospitality industry so it didn’t need to be told about the importance of constant 5-star hospitality. Hotel management now recognizes its partnership as a major trigger for its success.
Also, the hotel owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the Boa Vista city hall, (the “Camâra Municipal da Boa Vista”). The hotel enjoys a strong relationship with the city hall, as both look to develop tourism in the area. The city hall has often provided the ‘missing link’ in challenging situations for the hotel, constantly being on hand to help it deliver on its 5-star promise.
Conclusion: Good views...great perspectives
The journey is just beginning for the Iberostar family. In the next five to ten years, it will oversee a complete renovation of its guest rooms, service points and common areas. It intends not only to maintain its 5-star rating, but to use it as a platform to keep growing. Growth in Cape Verde’s tourism sector brings opportunities but also raises standards for the hotel to adhere to.
Elsewhere, Iberostar is developing a plan of unique installations that will separate it from the other hotels on the Cape Verdean market. An expansion is still being studied with the possibility of adding rooms, changing service points to new locations and opening a completely new hospitality venture with the same 5 star service for its clients.
In short, it’s truly an exciting time to be part of the Iberostar family. Cape Verde is really just beginning its adventure into tourism at a time when people are more cognizant of the importance of sustainability. This can already be seen in the planning being undertaken: the scattergun approach that occurred on some Mediterranean costs won’t happen here.
Boa Vista is the Portuguese for ‘good view,’ and anyone who has visited Cape Verde would testify that it almost seems to understate the beauty of the location of the Iberostar resort. More importantly, thanks to Iberostar and the burgeoning tourism sector, Cape Verde is a country with great perspectives on the future.