ANGOLA - Tourism
Director, Instituto de Fomento Turístico de Angola (Infotur)
Afonso Vita is Director of Instituto de Fomento Turístico de Angola (Infotur).
Founded to boost both national and international tourism and develop Angola’s brand as an investment destination, Infotur aims for the country to become an established African tourism destination by 2025.
What has been Infotur’s trajectory since its foundation?
We know that Angola suffered a civil war for over 25 years, with peace only achieved in 2002. Since then, the promotion of tourism has been limited, but today it is on the rise. We are starting to showcase ourselves as a country of opportunity to potential investors and tourists. We have 236 hotels including the new Intercontinental and around 460 travel agencies. We have many natural beauties such as Miradouro da Lua and Cabo Ledo, and yet we need to improve our infrastructure, especially accessibility. Angola is also a country with a strong history and ties with many countries in the American continent, namely the US, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, and Uruguay. We, therefore, need to increase our promotion there to attract international visitors.
How does Infotur plan to attract more investors in the hotel sector and what opportunities can they find in Angola?
The accommodation offering has significantly improved over the past five years. Our accommodation portfolio experienced a boost in 2010, when we organized the African Cup in Angola. There was widespread interest in entering the tourism sector among Angolan businesspeople due to that event. A number of five-star hotels, such as Epic Sana and others, were established in 2010, which marked a turning point in terms of accommodation, although we still have much to improve in the business environment. Unfortunately, we see no incentives to invest money in the tourism area. I studied in Morocco, and in 1997, investors were guaranteed five years tax free so that they could establish their businesses. We need to implement similar programs in Angola. We are working with AIPEX to enable that, as we need to create a better business environment to foster growth in tourism.
What initiatives were deployed by Infotur to support companies during COVID-19?
We are trying to make things easier for our sector, working with the Ministry of Economy and Planning to allow postponed tax payments and providing financial help for these settlements, since most of our over 400 travel agencies are currently closed because of the pandemic. We are working with a technical commission from our industry to find a solution that helps the sector as a whole survive this disastrous situation.
What can be the final boost for the Angolan tourism sector to become a real component of economic diversification?
We need the political will to finally boost this sector. In addition, we need to push and transform that political will into reality. We also need public sector investment in tourism to help local businesses develop. I started working in the sector in 1997 as a ministry advisor. At the time, although there was a sector, we had few hotels and that something was missing. In 2020, I realized that tourism was not politically relevant, as everyone was focused on oil and agriculture. Therefore, as general manager, I decided to do something that people would appreciate the value of over time, and, therefore, launched the “Juntos e todos pelo turismo” project. The main idea is to promote the sheer scale and beauty of our Angola to attract investment.
How does Infotur support workers in the tourism sector to develop their skills in order to meet the demands of an expectant market?
Right now, we have a tourism school in Kalimba where we have launched a bachelor’s diploma in tourism, as well a high school education in the hotel business. More development is required along these line to meet the demands of tomorrow. The Angolan government decided that Infotur should manage five hotels in Namibe, Huíla, Cabinda, Benguela, and Luanda, which has 132 rooms. We decided to establish a hotel school where trainees can both study and work. We are trying to do that in the Benguela too. In fact, everything we doing is part of the overall effort to improve the professionalism and service of the tourism sector.
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