Drogba Scores Big Tourism Win for Côte d’Ivoire

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UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Didier Drogba and Ivorian Minister of Tourism Siandou Fofana

International soccer star Didier Drogba has helped his birthplace, Côte d’Ivoire, strike gold by helping to collect MOUs for a total of $15 billion in commitments to back tourism projects in the West African country.

The breakthrough comes ahead of the UNWTO Forum for Africa, which took place in Abidjan recently (February 20-22) and the influential Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA), which takes place in Abidjan next month (March 23 – 25). FIHA is known for its ability to link up the new investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.

The former Chelsea striker – and now UN world tourism ambassador – was part of a successful global push to promote the rising success and attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire’s tourist economy. The country boasts a GDP growth rate of about 8% in 2019 and, as a destination, it’s in third place in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2 million international visitors, behind South Africa and Zimbabwe, ahead of Uganda, Botswana, Kenya or Mauritius (according to UNWTO 2018 data).

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, which organises FIHA, said: “This is an extraordinary and impressive effort by Côte d’Ivoire; and it makes this year’s Forum particularly interesting because the funding commitments are in place and the task now is to make projects happen.” Last year’s successful FIHA in Marrakech attracted 300 delegates from 28 countries.

Under the banner, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, Didier Drogba was a key player in a team of top Ivorian business and political leaders, as well as showbusiness figures, who took a roadshow to Dubai and Hamburg. They returned with more than 15 billion dollars of funding commitments for a variety of tourism projects, from hotels, to resorts and coastline development. All the backers have been invited to attend FIHA.

Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, the world’s largest and most experienced hospitality consultants, has been guiding Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts. He said: “It’s a blank page that the industry can write on in the most exciting way. Much has to be built – hotels alongside cultural centres and conference facilities, among other things. The amazing coastline offers great ‘bleisure’ (a mix of business and leisure) opportunities. Beyond Abidjan; Boulay island, Bassam and Jacqueville are currently the most promising locations.” He sees the greatest potential in ‘mixed-use’ projects, combining leisure, office and retail units with hospitality, in particular, branded 2-star & 3-star hotels and extended stay apartments.

Leading the country’s ambition to make tourism one of the main pillars of the economy, is Tourism Minister Siandou Fofana. Described by Philippe Doizelet as “visionary and deeply committed. He works hard to bring people together and attracts the best experts.”

Bench Events, Managing Director, Matthew Weihs concluded: “FIHA and its affiliated event, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, are central to driving investments in regional hotel and mixed-use projects. The events connect key international and regional stakeholders, private and institutional investors to the hotel developers and operators that are fuelling the growth of the hotel industry across the continent. The projects that are promoted and funded at FIHA drive investments in tourism, stimulate economic growth in regional markets, create jobs and encourage much needed infrastructure.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. DROGBA VS WEAH which one has helped their country more. two former giants of football. one is an asset to his country the other… a rogue and liability

  2. It’s been said so many times that Weah is a rogue. There seems not to be a concrete evidence that validates such a claim So if you have any evidence, could you lay it out for the people of Liberia to see? With regard to Drogba, will it be possible for you to look into some of oversea investments?

  3. Uncle Hney,

    DROGBA is a blessed child and great asset indeed for his family, village, region, country, CAF, FIFA and the world at large. He is proving daily that he was indeed a legend with riches humbly put into use to benefit his fellow countrymen.

    When you get to his village, you feel proud. When you see his house in Abidjan, its breathtaking. When you see his Foundation, you know he’s not forgotten is lowly background. When you see how he invests in his country, you know he wants to improve the livelihood of his fellow countrymen.

    His humility and wisdom made him to undergo training at FIFA and even attended school because he has the ambition to diligently serve FIFA.
    He knows what he can do best, he’s therefore developing skills therein.

    My prayer today and always is for Liberian to learn to know and follow their callings in God’s world. Too many mismatches are destroying my beloved Liberia.
    May we learn to be steadfast and move ahead optimistically to counter every obstacle that may come our way in achieving our dreams.

    DROGBA, an Ivory icon and pride for all!

  4. Basket full of Blames, Fix Nothing

    I m here again trying to make my voice heard. I m not a political leader nor a politician. I do not have any ambition to hold political office, even though others have accused me in the past. I m neither a CDCian nor UP, LP, etc.

    The conditions that propelled Mr. George Manneh Weah into been a political candidate was largely created by our politicians. I m not saying Mr. George Manneh is not qualify to run for public office. There is nothing in the constitution that gave credence to highly educated people the right to become president over others. When some Liberians decided to bring war, to settle scores, they thought that was the best way out. The break down of civil society, economic degradations, destitution, etc, followed. It came to a point we could foot the cost of our own national team.
    Mr Didier Drogba had not spent his own money behind the Elephants of Ivory Coast.

    April 6, 1996, the Lone Star was stranded in Monrovia when the city was enfolded in factional fighting orchestrated by political warlords. Who foot the cost of their trip to Congo? Go and exhume the body of the late Francois Massaquoi, he will tell you! Mr. Didier Drogba had represented ivory not by spending his money, but by participating and using his popularity.

    Which of these two is the worst? He that stole your wealth, went and bought arms, came and annihilate you and preside over your corpses; verses he that spent part of his earning on your behalf, turn around and stole your wealth.

    I m not in anyway supporting corruption in Liberia, but we Liberians have to learn to have compassion. We should never give a free pass to anybody who does us wrong. We should never cherry pick our wrong doers. If we do, we are carrying a “ basket full of blame, which cannot fix anything “. We may found ourselves going back to that same place over and over.
    Where were some of you, along with your political leaders when Mr. Weah was spending his hard earning money behind your Lone Star team. He who calls the piper, calls the tune.
    When the USAID (The United States Agency for International Development) sending bags of rice, beans, crisco oil, etc, around the world, In was zone. They are promoting their image. The next time they are at your door requesting a favor, better think twice.
    Don’t kill me ooh! Don’t hate me. I just writing the truth.
    Mamadu Bah, Meridian Health

    • Mr. BAH,

      I was not a rebel, I am not a rebel and I will NEVER associate myself with any subversive group. Equally so, I will NEVER etiquette anyone as such because of their patronym or tribal affiliation, like you, until it can be proven that you were, or you are.

      One of my major daily prayer points is that Liberians learn to read to sometimes figure out how things work or what aspired, if not we will continue to preach falsehood and dwell in ignorance.

      No politicians created any conditions that propelled someone to power in Liberia. Weah developed that ambition in the face of the destitution and the abject poverty of the people. Taylor himself saw it and voiced it once in a gathering with the Lone Star after one fateful football game with a foreign team in White Flower, Taylor’s residence. We thought then he was having the “Herod’s syndrome”

      While it is true there is nowhere in the constitution of Liberia that spells the credential of a president, moral obligations entail the service to our fellowmen to be a calling to help improve the livelihood of the weak and the destitute.
      We are all born with a special gift that can be put to the service of the masses; some are very good entertainers, others are architects, managers, gifted healthcare workers (read the Gifted Hands by Ben Carson), etc.

      Liberian religious leaders, elites and intellectuals had been on every front in the country and in the diaspora working earnestly to bring an end to the nightmare in the country. If someone will take advantage of the situation and use their popularity to entrench the people into the most gruesome abyss in the history of any nation, the wrath of God shall never spare them from such doom.

      For your information, every cent Weah spent on the Lone Star was reimbursed integrally by FIFA. He is your president, go and ask him if I am lying.
      The Ivorian situation was not dire to require DROGBA to spend his own money. By the way, be informed that he let go of his French nationality to play for his country of birth in the heat of the crisis, added some money to the insufficient per diems being paid to the players before the Ivorian federation rectified the discrepancies.
      DROGBA has been and continue to be an ambassador to most of his young compatriots by placing them in big clubs in Europe and elsewhere. Just look at the number of Ivorians playing in Europe.
      Besides few intimate friends, how many Liberian players were promoted or are being promoted in Europe or elsewhere by your football legend, the only African Ballon d’Or? It brings development to the country too. Come to the Ivory Coast and see buildings being erected by young Ivorian footballers with no fame.
      Yaya Toure, an Ivorian star, has just completed four (4) ten-story complexes, like the Pan African Plaza styled building, in Abidjan without going into politics. Why hinder the human capital, infrastructure and technological developments of a country if you have nothing to propose to a destitute population? What fixes are being made?

      There should be a change. It’s not because some other Liberians took arms for “revenge purposes or so” and so we should continue to plunge our country in the abyss.
      For 3 months, salaries were not paid. When the Christmas season was approaching, part of the outstanding salaries was paid. Since December to date, how many government employees have been paid?
      We are from a dangerous recent past. To continue to not pay civil servants is dangerous for the fragile situation we are living in Liberia. Would you have been happy to not be paid on a regularly monthly basis were you to be a government functionary? What could he fix then?

  5. Comrade Dolo,
    I have always said that I am not a blind defender of Weah. What I mean is that when Weah is wrong he’s wrong. When I am convinced that Weah has committed an error in judgement, I will not stupidly defend him. But some people do that, not I! I hope that’s clear.

    On many, many occasions, Weah’s critics make the claim that Weah is a thief or a rogue, a bandit, a womanizer, a thug, a punk and all kinds adjectives are used to defame his character. In fact, we’ve been told by some of Weah’s critics that he immediately constructed mansions when he became president. Of course, there could be an element of truth in all that’s being said. (Where there’s fire, there’s got to be smoke) My point is unfettered! The critics have a right to express themselves. But, ten times out of ten, no single individual has shown an iota of evidence. So where do we go from here? Just believe everything that’s out there?

    Brother Dolo, you have laid out unequivocally how Drogba has been helpful to his compatriots. You reside in the Ivory Coast. You have concrete evidence. Your story is credible based on what you have seen with your own eyes. Right? With regard to Weah, there is no concrete evidence! If there is solid evidence that implicates Weah, I will have a change of heart, maybe! But until that happens, I will not act impulsively. (Do unto others as you would expect others would do unto you).

    Trust me. If I hear that Petarus Dolo has impregnated ten beautiful Ivorian women in a month’s time, I will laugh. I will also say, “my God, thanks for giving my buddy a strong back, but urge Dolo not to forsake his Liberian wife”. You know I will not believe such a crap!

    Back to Drogba:
    The former soccer star (🌟) may be all that you have said and probably more. Drobga is not devoid of criticism or smears! His critics assert that he unwisely purchased expensive real estate property in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. It’s been said that the monetary return on his property is not too good. I don’t give a hoot about whatever Drogba chooses to do. In fact, that particular accusation may be a hear-say. Or Drogba’s enemies can’t just wait to defame his character. Defamation of character is what most people enjoy doing. It’s wrong. Again, if Weah is wrong, he is wrong. Where’s the evidence though?

    The gasoline fiasco caused a problem recently in Liberia. Now, here comes the news about Coronavirus. I am hoping and sincerely praying for our people to be spared the wrath of the pandemic. But I will not be surprised to hear that Weah helped manufacture the deadly desease in New Kru Town. Just wait!

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