With 31% of the population living below the poverty line and a ranking in the bottom twenty of the Human Development Index (2012), the average yearly income of twenty-nine Beninois is equal to one American.
The potential for tourism in Benin is strong, with abundant wildlife and beautiful natural environments including an Atlantic coastline and rainforest. The history of Benin, including the royal palaces of Abomey (both UNESCO World Heritage sites) and the Ouidah Slave Route, also appeals to tourists. Of late, the majority of tourists have been African-Americans and African-Europeans attempting to retrace their West African ancestors’ steps, students from America and the UK becoming involved in teaching programmes and a growing number of tourists visiting from neighbouring countries.
HITT Benin is working to increase the capacity of local informal workers to receive tourists well, creating the best possible experience for both parties, capitalising on the benefits offered by the industry. Through improving the product provided by workers in Benin’s tourism workers, demand can be expected to increase, while visitors will be prepared to pay more for a better service.