Chris Willan

New sustainable tourism activities in Cape Verde

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The Travel Foundation’s recent trip to Sal, Cape Verde was dual purpose: we announced a new programme of sustainable tourism activities for the island and photographer Chris Willan was there to capture the scenery and culture of this fascinating destination.

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In addition to announcing the new programme of activities, one of the main objectives of the visit was to work with the destination council to define a vision, strategy and activities to support Sal in becoming a leading sustainable tourism destination.

The destination council is composed of 21 members, including tour operators, hoteliers, NGOs and representatives of local and central government and associations as diverse as the IFP (a hospitality training centre), the ADEI (a business development organisation) and the Department of Tourism. The idea is to bring all these organisations together to work towards a common goal which will help protect Sal’s environment, provide economic benefits to the resident population and offer holidaymakers enhanced holiday experiences.

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Although visited by some 500,000 people each year, Cape Verde is a little known country… when you say you are travelling to Cape Verde most people’s first question is “where?”.

Cape Verde is an archipelago of 10 islands (and two rocks) which lie 500km west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. 501,000 people inhabit nine of Cape Verde’s islands. Santiago is the largest and most populated island and is also home to the capital city, Praia. Sal is one of the smaller islands, just 18km long by 7km wide with a population of 20,702.

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Located in the Barlavento (meaning windward) group of islands, Sal is the oldest of the Cape Verdean islands. It was originally named Llana (flat island), before being renamed Sal (salt) after the salt pans, now one of Sal’s most visited attractions, were discovered. Despite its size, Sal boasts 11 protected areas and is believed to be the world’s third most important nesting site for loggerhead turtles.

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Landing on what appears a largely barren and desolate island, it may seem surprising that there is so much to see and do in Sal. However, during a short trip in February this year, Chris Willan captured the laid-back surf spots at Kite Beach, Angulo Beach and Ponta Preta; the Santa Maria pier bustling with fishermen and vendors; and the nightlife of the capital city, Espargos.

We think Sal has much to offer, and we are looking forward to working with the destination council on a number of activities to enhance experiences for both local residents and visitors.

By Suzannah Newham, Destination Programmes Officer

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