The tourist potential of Angola was recognized at the height of the colonial period, but it not developed, because sparse attention was paid to this important economic sector.
In 1972 Angola’s hotel infrastructure was 57 units, including Luanda, Huambo, Lubango and Lobito, which made 54, 4%, and the total number of beds was 3.934, 1.140, of which were in Luanda. Following is an overview of the Angolan tourism sector from 1975 to 1988.
Over 90% of hotel and similar units in the country were abandoned by their former owners. In 1975, with independence and the establishment of the first Government of the Angolan State, the Secretary of State for Commerce and Tourism was instituted. From then on, it oversaw the administration of the Angolan tourism sector and other socio-economic sectors. The passing of Decree nº. 26/75 resulted in the zoning of hotel and tourism units and the creation the Centre for Control and Management of Hotel Establishments, Restaurants and similar establishments in Luanda Province. The following two years witnessed the irrational use and consequent degradation of hotel, restaurant, other such infrastructures and complementary units.
In May 1977, the Government promulgated Decree nº. 42/77, establishing the Ministry for Internal Trade, and approved the Organic Statutes, which incorporate the National Directorate for Tourism and Hotelaria.
In 1978, the creation of hotel companies (known as Emprotéis) began in the provincial areas, with a total of 19 such companies in 1983. In Luanda, the ANGHOTEL- U.E.E. was established, initially on a local scale, but later extending its area of operation to Cabinda, Huambo, Huíla, Malange and Benguela. During this period, the following activities were carried out:
• Rehabilitation and extension of the Pousada das Quedas of Kalandula, not completed
• Rehabilitation of the M’ombaka and Congresso Hotels in 1983
• Rehabilitation and complete restoration of the Hotel Presidente in 1984, as well as the Alameda, Turismo, Costa do Sol and Panorama Hotels in Luanda
• Construction of a 50-rooomed hotel in Luanda (Complexo da Vila Alice)
• Rehabilitation of similar small hotel establishments, construction of some creative centres, and training of hotel sector employees.
After the passing of the Ministry of Internal Trade’s Executive Decree nº.42/81 of 19 November, bars, cafés, tea houses, beer halls, restaurants and inns were leased out to private individuals, through contract agreements.
In 1988, as a result of the Economic and Financial Reform Programme, contacts were initiated with the World Tourism Organization (WTO), marking the awakening of the Angolan tourism sector in Angola. In the same year, the first Angolan tourism enterprise, ANGOTUR, LDA, was established.
Negotiations were held with the UNDP office with a view of integrating Angola into the Regional Project for the Development of Tourism in Southern and East Africa. In 1989, Angola became a member of the 8th Assembly of the World Tourism Organization held in Paris at the end of September, and at the beginning of October, the first commemorations of World Tourism Day in Angola were held. The commemorations of 1990 saw the promotion of the first truly multi-sectorial conference and the recommendations emanating from this continue to guide work in this sector.
Angolan membership in the WTO brought tangible benefits, with the immediate advantage being the implementation of the project known as “Institutional Strengthening of the Angolan State in the Tourism Sector”. This was financed by the UNDP and implemented by the WTO, and consisted of the following actions:
• Restructuring the National Directorate for Tourism
• Creation of a system of collecting, treating, analysing and publishing tourism statistics, and of a computerized statistical service in the National Directorate for Tourism
• Drafting of proposals for tourism legislation, capacity-building, incentives to create travel and tourism companies, and establishment of private professional associations within the sector such as HORESIL, AAVOTA and ADHA
• Structuring of National Tourism Administration culminating in the creation, in July 1996, of the Ministry of Hotelaria and Tourism, whose mandate is the rehabilitation and construction of hotel and tourism infrastructures
• Tourism planning and organization, training of employees for the tourism sector
• Contributing to preserving and strengthening national identity, peace, integration and international cooperation, and promoting the image of Angola as a potential tourist destination
• Contributing to protecting, preserving and valorizing the natural, socio-cultural and traditional resources of the country
• Creation of conducive conditions for the harmonious and sustainable development of national tourism, always seeking to ensure that the resultant socio-economic development contributes to an improved quality of life for Angolans.
All these efforts brought to the fore the current state of tourism in Angola. Approximately 65% of the country is situated at an altitude of between 1000 and 1600 metros.
The official currency is the Kwanza. The official languages are Portuguese, as well as a diversity of national languages (dialects), the most widely-spoken of which are: Kikongo, Kimbundo, Tchokwe, Umbundo, Mbunda, Kwanyama, Nhaneca, Fiote, Nganguela, etc.
The main river in Angola is the Kwanza, from which the national currency derives its name. It is a thousand kilometres long and only 240 Km of it is navigable. Next is the Kubango River, which is 975 km long, followed by the Cunene River, which is 800 km long, and the last is the Zaire, which is 150 Km long and navigable.
Angola’s rivers offer opportunities for tourism and trade-tourism business, or even the practice of eco-tourism.
Angola is a country potentially rich in mineral resources. it is estimated that its sub-soil holds 35 of global trade’s 45 most important mineral resources, including petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, phosphates, bituminous substances, iron, copper, magnesium, gold and ornamental rocks, etc.