Gabon: Aman Resorts Invests in Green Tourism

Published on 13th January 2012

The Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund and Singapore-based Aman Resorts, one of the world's leading luxury hotel groups, signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Management, Licensing, Reservation and Marketing Agreements for the construction of six luxury hotels and resorts in Gabon. This Memorandum of Understanding and the related agreements, under negotiation between Gabon and the Aman Group since 2010, provide for the construction of hotels in the Gabonese capital Libreville and in five national parks specially selected for their tourist potential. This project will lead to the creation of more than 500 direct jobs.

With its 800 km of coastline, 13 national parks that are home to animals found nowhere else in the world and more than 400,000 years of archaeological and cultural history, Gabon has what it takes to become a first-class tourist destination. By 2020, Gabon aims to attract 100,000 tourists per year from the mid-range and high-end sectors.

Aman Resorts is using its expertise to create perfectly adapted hotels in the five chosen parks - Ivindo, Loango, Lope, Batéké Plateau and Pongara. These hotels, equipped with quality modern infrastructure such as tea/coffee rooms, spas, bookshops, restaurants, gyms and saunas are designed to preserve the environment of the parks, while offering visitors high quality services.

Aman Resorts is set to create 140 rooms in total:

• a resort with 20 luxury tents to the south of the Loango National Park;

•a hotel with 30 villas on the Phare de Ngombe site in the Pongara National Park, just outside of Libreville;

• a hotel with 30 suites in Libreville;

• a hotel with 30 suites in the Lopé National Park;

•  a hotel with 30 villas on the Kongou Falls site in the Ivindo National Park; a resort with 10 tents on the Langoué site in the same park; and

•  a resort with 15 tents in the Batéké Plateaux National Park.

The first phase of this five-year project is due to commence immediately with the construction of a luxury hotel-spa in Libreville overlooking the Pongara Park, a hotel comprising 30 villas on the historic Phare de Ngombesite in the Pongara National Park and a luxury tent camp in the Loango Park in south Gabon that is famous for its surfing hippos.

“We hope that this project will enable us to launch a Geotourism industry in Gabon, that both ensures that the natural treasures found in Gabon’s national parks make a contribution to the sustainable livelihoods of future generations of Gabonese people whilst preserving this unique natural heritage for the world at large,” says Professor Lee White CBE, Director of the national parks agency.

According to Adrian Zecha, the CEO of Aman Resorts, “Gabon has all the elements to create an exceptional experience. We at Aman Resorts are very excited to see this project moving forwards and feel it will add a unique experience to our global portfolio.”

Making reference to the National Geographic documentaries shot following Michael Fay’s Megatransect that led to the creation of 13 National Parks by the late president Omar Bongo Ondimba, Adrian Zecha adds: “Offering our clients a visit to the ‘Last Eden’ is definitely in line with the unique quality Aman Resorts stand for.”

The experience and expertise provided by the Singapore-based group in the design, construction and management of these luxury hotels will allow Gabon to develop its tourism sector in accordance with the Head of State's policy of economic diversification known as "Emerging Gabon." The construction of these tourist facilities is also in line with the commitment made by the Head of State last December at the Climate Change Conference in Durban where he promised to sustainably promote Gabon's national heritage, thereby preserving it for future generations.

Since President Ali Bongo Ondimba's rise to power in 2009, Gabon has been implementing an ambitious policy to diversify its economy through three pillars known as Green Gabon, Service-Orientated Gabon and Industrial Gabon.

Gabon's Strategic Investment Fund, which was created in August 2011 and has a stake in Luxury Green Resorts, Aman Resorts' local partner, is fully committed to this strategy. Through an investment policy implemented in Gabon and abroad in areas targeted by the Head of State's development strategy as strategic choices for Gabon (natural resources, hospitality and financial services), the fund aims to provide future generations with sustainable revenue to replace current oil revenue.

The Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund, which receives 10% of the country's oil revenue on an annual basis, also helps to create previously non-existent sectors and provides cash to boost strategic sectors under development. As such, the fund has recently acquired stakes in SETEG (electricity) and a newly created Gabonese reinsurance company.

According to Serge Mickoto, Managing Director of the Gabonese Strategic investment Fund, the agreement signed with the Aman Group is "an incredible opportunity for Gabon to develop its tourism sector in partnership with a world leader in the field and to diversify its economy according to the Head of State's vision. These luxury hotels, situated in places of outstanding natural beauty, will not only serve as a way of promoting our natural heritage by allowing us to showcase our rich biodiversity, but will also lead to the creation of jobs."

Courtesy:  Gabon government.

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