The port of Pointe-Noire, the economic and oil capital of Congo-Brazzaville, received on Wednesday its first cruise ship carrying foreign tourists, a sign of the economic diversification sought by the Congolese government.
Finnish flag floating in the air, 115 meters of steel carrying 150 tourists of various nationalities, the SH Vega cruise ship was welcomed in the port of the economic and oil capital of Pointe-Noire, in Congo-Brazzaville on Wednesday.
It is the first time in history that a cruise ship sweeps the coasts of the central African country. Some have declared it a true sign of a new era of economic diversification in the country.
According to Lydie Pongault, minister of tourism: the arrival of the cruise ship “inaugurates a new era in the history of tourism in our country. The concept of cruise tourism is now a reality in the Republic of Congo.”
The Swan Hellenic owned cruise ship offers different excursions on the continent, from exploring African crucibles to a visit of Africa’s Atlantic Islands of Empire.
The SH Vega “is practically going around the world (…). It comes from Angola, will stay three days with us and then it will continue to Sao Tome and Principe,” according to Alain Koua Ngoulou, port commander.
The port authorities have not given any details on the rate of passage of cruise ships. But to get the economy out of the oil patch, the Congolese government has included tourism among the six pillars of the National Development Plan along with agriculture, digital technology and crafts.
“We are beginning to move gradually towards diversification of the economy” and “tourism is a sector in which we have comparative advantages”, said Didier Sylvestre Mavouenzela, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Pointe-Noire. “Tourism serves as a vector to boost all the other sectors: transport, the hotel industry, handicrafts,” he added.
Hosting high ranking establishments such as the Atlantic Palace, the Victory Palace, the Azur international, the Madiba Villa or the Palm beach, Pointe-Noire is no stranger to tourism. A 2012 study shows that business tourism prevails in the Congolese economic capital, with businessmen accounting for 70% of customers.
However, Alain Koua Ngoudou thinks the country “still had a lot to do” from a tourism point of view.
Regardless of certain limitations, and considering its numerous transport infrastructures, the economic dynamism and cosmopolitanism of its actors, its coastline and its beaches, not forgetting the small wonders around (Pointe-Indienne, Diosso, Conkouati-Douli National Park…), Pointe-Noire is the gateway to Central Africa and therefore has everything it takes to become an increasingly popular seaside resort.
Congo is the third largest oil producer south of the Sahara, with an estimated production of 350,000 barrels per day.