A key sector of the economy
The tourism and ecotourism sector is undergoing considerable growth. The Director General of tourism, Louis Barrys Ogoula Olingo, presented figures that speak for themselves: more than 90,000 foreign tourists visited Gabon in 2011, for global expenditure of 214 billion CFA francs (approximately $411.5 million US).
According to the forecast of the Ministry for Tourism, this sector should contribute 1,000 billion CFA francs to GDP by 2025, compared to 218 billion in 2009. Furthermore, two top-ranking international investors have already committed themselves in Gabon: Aman Resorts and SFM Africa.
Towards sustainable tourism
While the government has taken measures in favour of investment in the tourism sector, the Ministry for Tourism, through the voice of its Secretary General Antoine Menie M’Eyi, points out that this development will not be achieved at just any price.
Indeed, Gabon refuses the idea of mass tourism and its harmful effects on the environment and on local cultural traditions. On the contrary, Gabon wishes to encourage high quality tourism, based on the protection of nature, the preservation of biodiversity and respect for local traditions.
A rich and diversified natural capital
The landscape in Gabon has many assets for tourism. As part of the Congo basin, the planet’s second lung, Gabon has fauna and flora that are among the most diversified in the world. Animal species are extremely varied: elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, humpback whales, dolphins and turtles... It is to protect this exceptionally rich natural capital that, in 2002, at the initiative of the late President Omar Bongo Ondimba, Gabon created 13 national parks covering 11% of the national territory.