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Comoros, an Indian Ocean archipelago that depends on cloves and vanilla for most of its export earnings, plans to develop its tourism industry to accelerate growth, President Azali Assoumani said.
The country, situated off the east coast of Africa, wants to become a “tourism destination of choice,” Assoumani, 57, said in an interview Monday on arrival at Mauritius’s main international airport. He plans to hold talks with authorities in Mauritius to learn how that country generates $1.6 billion of foreign-exchange income from the industry.
“We will try to initiate cooperation in the business field, in particular in tourism,” Assoumani said. “Mauritius has a great experience in this field, and we have a lot of potential.”
Tourism represents a “significant” opportunity for Comoros’ $624 million economy, which is forecast to grow 3.6 percent this year, the same pace as 2015, according to the African Development Bank. The industry can help drive “economic diversification and job creation to foster the structural transformation of the economy,” the bank said in a March report.
Assoumani was re-elected to office in April, 10 years after his first term ended. The former army commander in 1999 led a coup -- one of at least 20 the country has experienced since it gained independence from France in 1975.
Comoros is one of the world’s biggest producers of ylang ylang, an essence used in perfumes, which together with cloves and vanilla account for more than 70 percent of its exports.
Assoumani is in Mauritius to attend a ceremony on Wednesday marking former Comorian Prime Minister Hamada Madi’s appointment as secretary-general of the Indian Ocean Commission, an intergovernmental body that groups Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and the Seychelles.