As explained in earlier articles and a White Paper on Tourism Investment, Cabo Verde is becoming more interesting for both international visitors and tourism investors. The islands are well served by airports and airlines, which boosts tourism and investment prospects. As mentioned in earlier articles, investors and international hotel companies are responding positively to the future growth prospects.
Economies and especially their tourism sectors depend on transport infrastructure for sustainable growth and investment. For an island nation such as Cabo Verde, air access is essential. Fortunately, since the country is well-served in aviation access, the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index has ranked Cabo Verde’s air transport infrastructure 43/141, better than destinations such as Cyprus (46th), Israel (50th), Costa Rica (60th), Morocco (64th) and the Dominican Republic (65th), all of which attract more visitors than Cabo Verde.
Cabo Verde has four international airports: Praia International Airport (also known as Nelson Mandela International Airport) on Santiago Island, Amílcar Cabral International Airport on Sal Island, Aristides Pereira International Airport on Boa Vista, and Cesária Évora International Airport on Sao Vicente Island Arrivals at these airports are indicated below.
Domestic service airports include Preguiça Airport on São Nicolau Island, São Felipe Airport on Fogo Island, and Vila Do Maio Airport on Maio Island. TACV – Cabo Verde Airlines – connects both the international and domestic airports. And Cabo Verde Express also serves all of these airports, but no routes beyond Cabo Verde.
An aviation agreement between the European Union and Cabo Verde in 2011 removed restrictions on the nationality of the airline. This means that any EU airline can operate flights between Cabo Verde and a Member State that already has a bilateral agreement with Cabo Verde, provided that traffic rights are available. Consequently, as the chart below shows, multiple airlines began serving Cabo Verde’s four international airports. Major international airlines such as Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways are offering flights to Cabo Verde on a code share basis.
TACV also offers the only direct flight between Cabo Verde and the USA (Providence Rhode Island), which operates during the summer months three days a week. (See below)
In 2014, according to Cabo Verde’s airport management company, ASA (Aeroportos e Segurança Aérea de Cabo Verde), the country’s international and domestic airports received more than 1.8 million passengers on over 14,000 flights.
In 2015, ASA reported a decline in passenger movements to just over 1 million. However, for the first trimester of 2016, a recovery seems to be underway with ASA reporting increases in passenger arrivals at all airports apart from Praia International Airport. Cesária Évora International Airport (São Vicente) received almost 31% more passengers compared with the first trimester of 2015 while Boa Vista received 17.4% more passengers. Domestic passenger movements increased by 19.4%.
TACV Air Service from Rhode Island to Cape Verde
In June 2015, Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde (TACV), began service from T. F. Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, Rhode Island to Praia International Airport. The US market has not historically been a strong market for Cabo Verde; US arrivals account for less than one percent of total arrivals. However, there is a potentially strong diaspora market of Americans with Cape Verdean ancestry who live mostly in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They now number more than 500,000, thus nearly the population of the islands (525,000).
TACV regards the connection as a way of linking the diaspora community to family and friends in Cabo Verde, but they also see the service as a way on further growing the US outbound market to Cabo Verde as awareness increases about the islands’ attractions.
“TACV’s strategy to grow its Praia hub and international presence takes a bold step today with flights to Providence, where we have a strong diaspora and a shared vision for a resurgent future,” said João Pereira Silva, TACV President and CEO. “This service will seamlessly connect the Ocean State to the islands of Cabo Verde and promises to play a leading role in strengthening historic cultural ties while facilitating trade and tourism,” said Mr. Pereira Silva.
The airline offers two weekly flights on Tuesdays and Fridays through June 30th and a third weekly flight on Wednesdays from July through early September. Additionally, connecting service will be available to other Cabo Verdean islands: Fogo, Sao Vicente, Sal and Boa Vista.