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Congo-Brazzaville sets sights on becoming ecotourism destination
Travelers landing at Maya-Maya airport in the Republic of Congo are greeted by the sort of sights one might find in a European city, with plexiglass walkways connecting the boarding wings and the main hall. A large sign pointing towards Brazzaville welcomes you at the exit. Outside, the city buzzes with the sounds of traffic and pedestrian conversation, day and night. Just a drive away sits the second largest rainforest in the world.
Rich in natural and cultural landmarks like these, Congo-Brazzaville is pinning hopes to diversify its oil-dependent economy on tourism. Commodities currently make up about 60 percent of the country's economic output, so the government is courting foreign investments, pitching its appeal to international visitors and starting the hard work of building the tourism sector domestically.
The government’s strategic plan estimates it will need $31 million to overhaul the sector over the next five years and raise tourism’s contribution to the gross domestic product from its current 3 to 10 percent by 2021, according to the country’s tourism minister. The fund hopes to attract domestic and international investment to improve rural infrastructure, host multisectoral training programs and build renewable energy at tourist sites.