In the last fifteen years, international tourism to Cabo Verde has grown substantially, and in 2017 international tourism income 1in Cabo Verde was €385.2 M, 15% higher than in 2016 and representing 23.6% of GDP. It is the main source of foreign exchange earnings and directly supports around 10% of total employment 2. This situation is largely attributed to “all-inclusive” package holidays run by Europe’s largest tour operators. Tourism has played an important role in lifting people out of poverty. The proportion of the population that earn their living in the services and trade sector grew from 62.6% in 2015 to 64.4% in 2017.

However, to sustain this progress, and create the jobs that are urgently needed for Cabo Verde’s youth, the nature, direction, and form of future planning and investment in the tourism sector needs to change and diversify. The image of Cabo Verde as a single product, “sun, sand, and sea” destination is unjustified. Beyond its impressive beaches and sand dunes, the variety of Cabo Verde’s total tourism product embraces a wealth of diversity. Unknown to many, Cabo Verde offers coral reefs for snorkelling and diving, one of the world’s three main sea turtle nesting sites, game fishing, water sports (including sailing, yachting, wind, and kite surfing), hiking and trekking in rich hill ecosystems, volcanic exploration, birdwatching, and canyoning.

Similarly, its famous music, festivals, and cultural heritage are relatively unexplored as tourist products. For the most part, these have yet to be packaged and promoted to the international tourism market. Cabo Verde could also tap into the retirement or senior citizens market. For this, access to high quality medical care, affordability, safety, ease of international and local connectivity, and tax status are important considerations. Diversification is likely to further increase tourism investment while spreading the benefits more widely across the country.

orecasts by the World Travel and Tourism Council suggest that added value from tourism could grow further and double to US$1.5 billion, by 2027. Direct and indirect employment could grow from 97,000 jobs in 2017 to 152,000 jobs in 2027, and the World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that annual employment growth in Cabo Verde’s tourism industry during the next 10 years could be 4.5% per year, the 7th highest in the world.

Cruise ship tourism represents an emerging and interesting niche with high potential. Given its position in the mid-Atlantic, home- basing cruise ships in Cabo Verde could generate significant benefits to the country and open new markets. Having invested in several ports in recent years, exploring opportunities to have a major cruise line based out of Cabo Verde, similar to Jamaica and islands in the Pacific, could grow the country’s tourism business. Not only would this bring benefits to the homeport country, but it would also bring more cruise arrivals to West Africa. Available data shows that 2013 was the strongest year on record for cruise ship tourism, with 157 ships making stops in Cabo Verde, carrying a total of 75,643 passengers, up from 22,909 in 2008. The Port of Mindelo (Porto Grande) is Cabo Verde’s leader with 57 cruise ship port calls in 2013, followed by Praia with 39, and Santo Antão with 15 in that year. There are no official estimates on the number of passengers that exit the ships (which typically dock for 1–2 days) to tour the respective islands, but ENAPOR (the national port operator) estimates the number to be about 70%, with raw projections placing expenditures per tourist at about €45 a day.


– Cabo Verde is increasing becoming a more popular destination for tourists.

– Development and diversification of the tourist sector is a high priority for Government with a target of attracting 3 million tourists to the country by 2030.

– Cabo Verde offers more than “sun, sea and sand”.

– A wide range of opportunities for investment in niche sectors taking advantage of the country’s natural beauty, landscapes, history and culture exist.

– 9 ports suitable for receiving cruise ships (in all inhabited Islands, depending on the size of the cruise ship).

– The Tax Benefits Code has special provisions for investment in the tourist sector.