Sao Tome & Principe, November 2009 – The government of Sao Tome & Principe and Societe de Conservation et Developpement (SCD) announced that they have entered a strategic partnership, aimed to develop the sustainable tourism potential of Africas second-smallest country.
Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Christophe Lepetit)
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Poliza)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Africa’s Eden)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Africa’s Eden)
Under the deal, SCD invests over €10 million in the 136 km2 equatorial islands of São Tomé & Príncipe, that lie 250 km off the west coast of Gabon, of which €7.35 million will go towards the sustainable development of the smallest of the two islands, Príncipe.
Sustainable economic development on Island of Príncipe
Príncipe’s first priority is to become accessible to the world, which will be achieved by upgrading the current airport facilities to international standards and by operating inter-island flights. Furthermore, SCD is investing in luxury tourism infrastructures. SCD will also contribute towards the education of the local population, national park management, and set up sustainable forms of fishing, agriculture and waste management. With a population of only about 5,000 people, this ongoing development plan offers a platform to draw the island out of poverty without jeopardising the pristine surroundings.
“The investments of SCD towards Príncipe’s airport and Bom Bom Island Resort, as well as the agreements on future investments, have the potential to transform Príncipe into a fully self-supporting economy, driven by sustainable tourism and development. We are excited about these prospects; the island of Príncipe is a pearl on the equator that we are opening up to the world. We welcome visitors to discover our paradise”, said Regional President of the Island of Príncipe, Tose Cassandra. Rombout Swanborn, CEO of SCD, adds:
“We are looking forward to partner with the government of Príncipe in a strategic deal to create the first-ever ecologically run tropical island economy and to unfold its enormous tourism potential. Príncipe can compete with Zanzibar, the Seychelles and île de la Reunion as a beach destination, with Costa Rica as an ecotourism destination, and with St. Barth and Moustique as a hideout for the rich and famous.”
The upgrade of the airport facilities on Príncipe has recently started and is scheduled to take place until February 2010, thereby improving the landing strip, airport infrastructures and adding runway illumination.
Jannie Fourie, manager of Omali Lodge Luxury Hotel on São Tomé and operator of the islands’ airline Africa’s Connection STP, explains:
“There are currently 3 flights between the islands per week. The lights will allow for evening and night landings, which will amongst others be of use in case of emergency evacuations of the local population as there limited medical services on Príncipe.”
The renovations of the famous Bom Bom Island Resort are already well on their way. Other investments will be determined together with the government of São Tomé & Príncipe.
SCD invests largely in west central Africa
Since its formation in 2001, SCD has invested over €15 million in Gabon and the Central African Republic, contributing €3 million towards conservation and wildlife research, independently and through renowned conservation organisations such as the Max Planck Institute. The company started its operations in Loango National Park, Gabon, with the aim to develop low-impact tourism and conservation in Gabon through the concept of ‘tourism pays for conservation’. Having gained a wealth of experience in Gabon, SCD has started to apply this concept to other countries in the region.
The division Africa’s Eden (www.africas-eden.com) organises tours to Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe and the Congo Basin for tourists to have a unique nature experience, while at the same time contributing to biodiversity conservation.
São Tomé & Príncipe
The equatorial islands of São Tomé & Príncipe lie in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 250 kilometres off the west coast of Central Africa. These islands form one of the smallest independent states in the world, located on an alignment of once-active volcanoes, with rugged landscapes, dense primary tropical forests and beaches of black and white sand. Amidst these lush surroundings, you will find many exotic plants and flowers – new orchid species are discovered here regularly – and birdwatchers can look out for 143 species of birds, of which 26 are endemic.
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