Cape Verde Islands hit by pandemic – witnesses drastic drop in tourists

Published on : Saturday, November 28, 2020

For many years, the Cape Verde Islands profited from tourism investments. But now — due to the corona virus — tourists are choosing to stay away, hurting the local economy.

“I worked in the Iberostar hotel for almost four years, but now I’m jobless,” said Dina Brito. “I’ll be getting unemployment benefits for five more months, but after that I won’t know how to feed my kids,” the anxious woman added.

Tourists are now quite less in the whole of Cape Verde as COVID-19 continues to affect, impacting jobs in the island of Boa Vista, which almost solely lives off the hospitality sector. Hundreds of hotel employees are on short-term work or have been dismissed. Restaurants are empty and cab drivers don’t have any clients.

Brito said, “In the hotel restaurant, I used to make about €230 ($273) a month excluding tips. Now the money I get is not even enough to pay my rent.”

The Cape Verde Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean about 600 kilometers away from Senegal on Africa’s western coast. This independent island nation has been affected harshly by the pandemic. In 2019, there were around 820,000 registered tourists, but there has been a drastic drop since then. Tourism, accounting for a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), is now idle.

Kevin Sanders, who runs a seaside boardinghouse on Boa Vista said, “After starting our business, we had a very successful eight months until COVID hit us. Since then, our five guest rooms have been empty and we haven’t earned a single cent.”

He added that although they are still falling back on their savings put aside in Europe, most locals are left with nothing. Without any visitors, restaurants are not buying the catch from fishermen; no one is booking a tour at the small local travel agencies and shop owners and marketers don’t have customers, Sanders said. Economy is in tatters, the couple lamented.

Economics professor Jose Lopes da Veiga said that Cape Verdean economy would be hit hard with tourists staying away. “We have to adopt measures to get the economy going again, but we can only do this with aid from abroad,” da Veiga said.

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