Tourism in Cabo Verde - History

Tourism in Cabo Verde - History

Cape Verde’s Economy is Flourishing in 2018 Thanks to Travel and Tourism

It is hard to imagine a time when Cape Verde was not known around the world as a tropical paradise. It now welcomes some half a million visitors per year to its shores – drawn by the promise of crystal-clear waters, unspoilt white-sand beaches and endless African sunshine. The Islands have flourished while developing their status as a tourist hotspot, and this has had a significant impact on the Cape Verdean economy. This is evident in the findings of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2018 report on the economic impact of travel and tourism on the archipelago. Below, we take a look at some of its key findings.

The contribution of travel and tourism continues to grow

In 2017, the travel and tourism industry directly contributed 17.8% of Cape Verde’s gross domestic profit (GDP). That equates to around $311 million. This ‘direct contribution’ came from hotels, travel agents, airlines, restaurants and those in the leisure industry. This is expected to rise by 3.1% in 2018 and 5.4% per year by 2028, so contributing 19.7% by 2028.

The contribution of travel and tourism to Cape Verde’s economy is even greater when the wider impacts of the industry are taken into account. These include indirect contributions to jobs and GDP through the construction of new hotels, the purchase of new aircraft, tourism marketing, Resort area security services, IT services for travel agents, catering services for airlines, and so on. Induced contributions – i.e. the money spent by those employed in travel and tourism roles – are also considered. In 2017, the total contribution was $782.9 million (44.9%). This is expected to rise by 3.1% in 2018 and 5.0% per year by 2028, at which point it will account for 47.9% of GDP.

More jobs than ever

The opening of new hotels and Resorts, such as the luxury 5-star Resorts created by The Resort Group PLC – as well as other developments in the aviation, food and beverages and leisure sectors – has prompted a significant rise in employment in Cape Verde. In 2017, 37,500 jobs were directly supported by the travel and tourism industry, which accounts for 15.8% of total employment. This direct contribution is expected to rise by 2.8% in 2018 and by 4.5% per year by 2028 (to 60,000 jobs and 21.2% of total employment). If jobs that are indirectly affected by the industry are also taken into account, these figures rise. In 2017, the industry’s total contribution to employment was 39.3% (or 93,500 jobs), which is expected to rise by 1.7% in 2018 (95,000 jobs) and by 3.1% per year by 2028 (129,000 jobs).

Tourists are spending more money

According to the WTTC, tourists are now also spending more money when travelling in Cape Verde. In 2017, $459.8 million was generated through visitor exports, which is 65.9% of total exports. With the country expecting to attract 634,000 foreign tourists in 2018, the revenue generated by visitor exports is forecast to grow by 2.6% this year. By 2028, it is expected to grow by 5.5% per year to 73.1% or $808.1 million.

Investment is increasing

This growth in Cape Verde’s popularity and economy means that investment is also increasing. In 2017, the Islands attracted $144.2 million in investment for travel and tourism, which is 26.6% of total investment. This is expected to rise by 1.3% in 2018 and by 4.1% per year by 2028, when it should account for 25.4% of total investment in Cape Verde.

Clearly, the economy of Cape Verde is thriving, and this has a lot to do with the travel and tourism industry. If you are interested in discovering more about the archipelago, or are considering an investment, contact our friendly team at The Resort Group PLC.

Cabo Verde –Tourism Investment Prospects

International visitors and tourism investment are flowing into Cabo Verde. For both visitors and investors, this tiny country, 500 kms off the coast of Senegal, is a destination that is attracting well-earned attention. In earlier articles, the steady influxes of international visitors and the incentives attracting investors were covered. As demand for Cabo Verde’s attractive resorts grew, investors sought out opportunities and Government incentives have helped smooth the path forward. It is not completely smooth sailing, there are still a few kinks to work out such as taxation, but as we pointed out in a detailed White Paper on Tourism Investment in Cabo Verde, there are more positives than negatives. So, not surprisingly, investors and international hotel brands are discovering Cabo Verde.

Cabo Verde has been experiencing a boom in hotel construction. From 2010 to 2014, the number of rooms increased by 84% from 5891 to 10,839 with the number of beds increasing by nearly 60% from 11,397 to 18,188. Most of the growth occurred in hotels and pensions with the number of the former increasing from 41 to 54 and the latter from 61 to 70. The number of hotel apartment establishments increased from 12 to 21.

The only international brands currently operating in Cabo Verde are Spain-based Riu Hotels & Resorts, Melia Hotels, Iberostar, and Portugal-based Pestana Hotels. These hotels account for nearly half of all rooms in Cabo Verde. This is set to change over the next one to two years with the opening of two Hilton hotels.

Four new hotels are expected to increase the overall room supply by more than 15% and the four and five star supply by 33%. Three will open on Sal Island and one in Praia by late 2016:

The Hilton Sal, The Hilton Praia, The Melia Llana Beach Hotel and the Royal Decameron Sal Beach Hotel comprising a total of 1658 rooms.

  • The Hilton Sal will have 240 rooms, 23 suites, 1 presidential suite, a spa, three restaurants, and a business center, as well as the country’s first casino. It is reportedly costing more than $58 MN to build and is financed by Ecobank, Banco Comercial do Atlântico (BCA), the Banco Interatlântico (BI), the Banco Espírito Santo-Cape Verde (BES-CV), and Caixa Económica
  • The Hilton Praia will have 200 rooms.
  • The Melia Llana Beach Hotel will have about 600 suites, seven pools, discos, a Sports bar, mini club for children, four restaurants, gym, cyber cafe, pavilion wedding, meeting rooms, water sports, theater room, among other equipment.
  • The Royal Decameron Sal Beach Club Hotel development includes two resorts, one four and one five-star with a total of 594 rooms. The four-star hotel will have 312 rooms and the five-star 282 rooms with bars, beach restaurants and thematic areas of promotion events, pool, spa, gym, recreation areas and a nautical club, game rooms and an amphitheater.

In addition to these new hotels, an even larger development is launching. In July 2015, the Macau Legend Development (MLD) company reached an agreement with the Government of Cabo Verde to develop a world-class integrated leisure, tourism and entertainment complex on Santiago Island. By 2018, this complex is expected to open and include an exclusive 15 year gaming concession for Santiago Island and an exclusive nationwide 10 year concession on the operation of online gaming, physical and online sports betting.

For Cabo Verde, this will represent one of the most substantial single investments in its history. MLD will invest at least EUR250 MN (US$287 MN) to construct an integrated complex that includes hotels, casino, office buildings, retail, dining, a convention center, museum, a clubhouse and marina.

The MLD investment is sparking the interest of other investors interested in gaming and casino projects, who are being attracted by the availability of gambling zone land and licenses. Some of the most attractive opportunities are being facilitated by the Boa Vista and Maio Islands Tourism Development Corporation – “Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Turístico das Ilhas da Boa Vista e Maio, SA” (SDTIBM).

The most popular islands for visitors and investors have been Sal and Boa Vista, although interest has also been growing in Maio. As development progresses on Maio, which has a third of the country’s beaches, it is expected to help diversify Cabo Verde tourism by offering opportunities for diving, nature tourism, ecotourism and adventure, cultural tourism, and sport fishing. Maio is a three hour slow boat ride from Praia.

Boa Vista, which has more than half of the country’s white sandy beaches, has also been attracting substantial investment and expects to double the number of rooms by 2020:

  • Meliá Hotels is opening their first resort in Boa Vista with 850 rooms under construction as of early 2016.
  • Expansions are expected in 2016-17 of the Riu and Decameron properties.
  • Boa Vista will also have its first resort with an 18-hole golf course in 2018-2019.

Investors are responding to increased demand and interest among visitors. And as they continue to expand the country’s room supply and resort offerings, Cabo Verde is expected to generate even more investor interest.


Generally moderate, the climate is characterized by stable temperatures with extreme aridity. February is the coolest month, with temperatures in the low 70s F (low 20s C). August and September are the hottest and wettest months, with temperatures in the low 80s F (high 20s C). The islands are profoundly affected by the two-season nature of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a belt of converging trade winds and rising air that encircles Earth near the Equator. Winter winds from Europe are cool and dry, but in the summer months the ITCZ front moves to the north and the Guinea Current brings more heat and moisture, which can result in increased precipitation, especially in the higher elevations of the more mountainous islands. Precipitation levels are a function of how far north the ITCZ progresses and how much tropical moisture it carries and are, as a result, unpredictable: years may go by with little or no precipitation. The clashing fronts near Cabo Verde generate hurricanes that travel westward across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and the eastern coast of the United States.

Tourism in Cabo Verde - History

Great people and culture

Culture and Art - this is the true treasure of Cabo Verde, so we are always accompanied by local musicians, even when we travel with coaches, we keep our guests in a good mood to learn the rich art of the great Cabo Verdean  musicians and artists.
Cabo Verde becameꃺmous around the world thanks to the great singer Cesaria Evora. An unforgettable experience on򠲫o Verde is the local carnival, full of hot rhythms and colorful costumes.

Our main goal is to bring visitors to the northern islands of the Cape Verde archipelago as closely as possible. During their stay and tours, tourists learn about the hospitality and everyday life of the "capeverdeans", cooking and eating with them, participating in the production of local rum - known as "grogue", learning the techniques of goat cheese production, roasting theꃺmous local coffee, and learn about the history, tradition, lifestyle and a real taste of Cabo Verde.

Cabo Verde

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Cabo Verde due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Cabo Verde.

Exercise Increased Caution in:

If you decide to travel to Cabo Verde:

  • See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Cabo Verde.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Praia – Exercise Increased Caution

Violent crime, such as burglary, armed robbery, and assault, occurs in Praia.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

Embassy Message


Quick Facts

Must be valid at time of entry

One page required for entry stamp

Effective February 24, 2020, U.S. citizens entering Cabo Verde for tourism for less than 30 days do not require a tourist visa.

Certificates from Bank of Cabo Verde required to depart with more than 1 million Cabo Verdean escudos

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Praia
Rua Abilio Macedo 6
C.P. 201
Praia, Santiago, Cabo Verde
+(238) 260-8948
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (238) 991-3325
Fax: +(238) 261-1355
Email: [email protected]

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Cabo Verde for information on U.S. – Cabo Verde relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Cabo Verde.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in Cabo Verde
  • Visa – except if entering for tourism for less than 30 days
  • International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) World Health Organization (WHO) card if arriving on flights from Senegal or other West African countries

Visas: Effective February 24, 2020, U.S. citizens entering Cabo Verde for tourism for less than 30 days do not require a tourist visa. For tourist visits longer than 30 days, two types of visas are available: a single-entry visa valid for up to 90 days or a multiple-entry visa valid for five years. Visit the Embassy of Cabo Verde website for the most current visa information.

You may also apply for a visa upon arrival, valid for a single entry stay of 30 days, and pre-pay at least five days prior to traveling through, or apply and pay in cash (Euros, U.S. Dollars, or Cabo Verdean Escudos) or by Visa/Mastercard, upon arrival at one of the country’s four international airports:

  • Nelson Mandela International Airport
  • Cesaria Evora Airport
  • Amilcar Cabral International Airport
  • Aristides Pereira International Airport

Travel with Minors: For both entrance to and exit from Cabo Verde, any parent traveling with a minor should carry the child’s birth certificate. If the child is not traveling with both parents, the non-accompanying parent(s) should provide a signed statement consenting to the child’s travel and naming the adult accompanying the child.

Airport Security Fee: All foreign citizens planning to travel to Cabo Verde are required to complete a pre-arrival registration and pay the Airport Security Fee (TSA) at the online electronic platform EASE at least five days prior to entering Cabo Verde.

The following travelers are exempt from paying the TSA:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • Passengers on official missions on aircrafts in the private service of Cabo Verde or foreign countries, on a reciprocity basis
  • Passengers on planes forced to return to the airport, due to technical or meteorological reasons or any other reasons beyond their control
  • Transfer passengers
  • Citizens holding a Cabo Verdean passport, their children under 18 years old, and their spouses, upon presentation of a valid ID card (Passport, Identity Card, or National Identification Card)
  • Resident foreigners, upon presentation of the Residence Permit, Residence Visa, or other valid identification document.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Cabo Verde.

Safety and Security

Exercise extreme caution when participating in water sports, such as swimming, boating, and fishing, as the tides and currents around the islands are very strong. Several small fishing boats have been lost at sea, and drownings have occurred on the beaches and along the coast in Santiago, Sal, and on other islands.

The entire island of Fogo is an active volcano. Future eruptions remain a threat, as do earth tremors throughout the islands, especially on Fogo, Brava, and Santo Antão, and beneath the ocean channels that separate them. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available on our website.

Crime: Petty crime and burglary are common in Cabo Verde, especially at marketplaces, festivals, street fairs, and public gatherings. Criminals target anyone perceived to be affluent, regardless of nationality. Avoid groups of children who appear to have no adult supervision, since the perpetrators of petty theft and pickpocketing are often groups of street children. Muggings occur often, particularly at night and in more isolated areas, and often involve violence. The perpetrators are predominantly males between the ages of 14 and 25 operating in groups of two or more. Due to inadequate lighting in many public areas, you should be especially vigilant after dark, carry a flashlight to illuminate your path, and never go out alone. You should also keep vehicle doors and windows locked, and avoid isolated places.

It is dangerous to use hillside stairways connecting neighborhoods in Praia and many other Cabo Verdean cities and towns, even in broad daylight. These stairways isolate users and make them vulnerable to assault.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Report crimes to the local police at 132 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(238) 260-8900 or after hours at +(238) 991-3325. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

  • Help you find appropriate medical care.
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion.
  • Provide a list of local attorneys.
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home.
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are not common. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment may not be readily available. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities to provide urgent medical treatment. There is no hyperbaric/decompression chamber in the country for scuba divers. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cabo Verde are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

The Department of State warns all U.S. citizens against taking any firearms or ammunition into Cabo Verde. If you are caught entering Cabo Verde with firearms or ammunitions, you may face severe penalties, including prison time.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our website for further information.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in both Cabo Verde and the United States. U.S. citizens who buy these goods are punishable under Cabo Verdean law. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Cabo Verde.

See our LGBTI page and our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There are significant hardships in Cabo Verde for persons with limited mobility due to rugged terrain, widespread use of cobblestone streets and pathways, very limited number of elevators in buildings, and frequent power outages.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips page.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.


Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Cabo Verde.

Medical facilities in Cabo Verde are limited, and some medications are in short supply or otherwise unavailable. The country’s largest hospitals are in Praia and Mindelo. There are smaller public health centers and private medical clinics, of variable quality in both personnel and equipment, throughout the country. Transportation between islands is difficult, and inter-island medevac options are limited. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão do not have operational airports, which makes air evacuation in the event of a medical emergency difficult.

Those traveling to Cabo Verde for scuba diving should be aware that there is no hyperbaric/decompression facility on the islands.

For emergency services in Cabo Verde, dial 132.

  • not widely available, and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
  • not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas.
  • not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on types of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Cabo Verde opens to international tourists in July

The West African Island country of Cabo Verde will from next July, open its borders to international visitors and tourists.

The country depends heavily on tourism as a catalyst for economic growth and has been badly hit as it has had to close its borders to visitors in the wake of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

A statement issued by the country’s Ministry of Transport added that Cabo Verde is currently preparing to safely receive visitors.

This is however contingent on Europe and other countries lifting their travel restrictions.

“Indeed, the work of preparing the country, as a tourism destination is underway, in order to receive tourists with security and peacefully.

This is being carefully planned and the reopening will be gradual so that the success in combating COVID-19, in the main tourist islands, continues to be consolidated, generating confidence confidence and credibility for operators, tourists, employees and the general public.”

Cabo Verde joins the likes of Seychelles and Tanzania who have already opened their doors to international arrivals.


Full independence was achieved in Cabo Verde on July 5, 1975. Aristides Pereira, the PAIGC secretary-general, and Pedro Pires, a military commander, became the first president and prime minister, respectively. A military coup in Guinea-Bissau in 1980, deeply resented in Cabo Verde, broke the political unity between the two countries. The PAIGC subsequently split, with the Cabo Verdean branch thereafter known as the African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde (Partido Africano para a Independência de Cabo Verde PAICV). Pereira and Pires remained in power in the one-party state until PAICV dissidents were permitted to form a second party, the Movement for Democracy (Movimento para a Democracia MpD), which was organized from as early as March 1990 and emerged victorious in the two-party elections of January 1991. In the presidential election held the following month, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, backed by the MpD, won a decisive victory he was reelected in February 1996 in an election marked by a low turnout and in which he was the only candidate.

During Monteiro’s tenure, the country continued to experience economic struggles, and both the MpD and the PAICV held the troubled economy to be their primary concern. During the legislative and presidential elections of 2001, the PAICV was returned to power, with Pires winning the second round of balloting to secure the presidency despite allegations of irregularities by his opponent, former prime minister Carlos Alberto Wahnon Carvalho Veiga. That same year food shortages—a common predicament for Cabo Verde—worsened considerably, and the government relied heavily on foreign aid and food imports to feed the country. Veiga and Pires faced each other once again in the presidential election of 2006, in which Pires—with diasporic support—very narrowly secured reelection. The constitution prohibited Pires from running for a third term, and in the 2011 presidential runoff election Jorge Carlos Fonseca of the MpD defeated Manuel Inocencio Sousa of the PAICV. In the National Assembly elections in March 2016, the PAICV lost the majority that it had held in the legislative body for some 15 years the MpD won more than 50 percent of the vote. The PAICV did not field a candidate in the presidential election held later that year in October. Fonseca handily defeated two other candidates to win reelection, taking about three-fourths of the vote.

The poverty and high rates of unemployment that had plagued Cabo Verde in the 1990s continued into the 2000s, even as the government made strides in reaching economic goals. In the 21st century the country continued to successfully pursue political and economic relationships around the globe, courting foreign investors and creating and maintaining diplomatic ties in the international community. In October 2013 the government requested that the Portuguese version of the country’s name, Cabo Verde, be used as part of the country’s official name when it was rendered in other languages previously, the rendition of the country’s official name had varied by language—such as the widely used English translation, Cape Verde.

Cabo Verde Tourism Statistics 1995-2021

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Tourism in Cabo Verde - History

"A Country at the heart of the World"

Cabo Verde’s geographic location, mild climate, landscape diversity, wealth of cultural resources, political and social stability and economic opportunities make the archipelago a privileged destination for tourism and investment. Other relevant factors are the various special and preferential agreements which Cabo Verde is part of.

The transformational agenda in place has allowed significant improvements in the doing business environment. For the second year in a row, in 2012, Cabo Verde has been placed by IFC’s Doing Business Report among the top ten reformers, with significant advances in the areas of Registering Property, Getting Credit and Resolving Insolvency.

The archipelago is served by 4 international airports (Sal, Praia, Sao Vicente and Boavista) and regular international flights to and from Europe, USA, Brazil and Africa. There is also a road network with high penetration. FDi Magazine rated Cabo Verde among the top African countries in infrastructures in 2011.

It enjoys high technology (optic fiber) telecommunication system with access to the main global telecommunications services (internet, fax, cellular phone, datanet).

Watch the video: Travelling CABO VERDE