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Drogba scores big tourism win for Côte d’Ivoire

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International soccer star Didier Drogba has helped his birthplace, Côte d’Ivoire, strike gold by helping to collect MOUs for a total of $15 billion in commitments to back tourism projects in the west African country.

The breakthrough comes ahead of the UNWTO Forum for Africa, which will take place in Abidjan next week (February 20-22) and the influential Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA), which takes place in Abidjan next month (March 23 – 25). FIHA is known for its ability to link up the new investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.

The former Chelsea striker – and now UN world tourism ambassador – was part of a successful global push to promote the rising success and attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire’s tourist economy. The country boasts a GDP growth rate of about 8% in 2019 and, as a destination, it’s in third place in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2 million international visitors, behind South Africa and Zimbabwe, ahead of Uganda, Botswana, Kenya or Mauritius (according to UNWTO 2018 data).

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, which organises FIHA, said: “This is an extraordinary and impressive effort by Côte d’Ivoire; and it makes this year’s Forum particularly interesting because the funding commitments are in place and the task now is to make projects happen.” Last year’s successful FIHA in Marrakech attracted 300 delegates from 28 countries.

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Under the banner, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, Didier Drogba was a key player in a team of top Ivorian business and political leaders, as well as showbusiness figures, who took a roadshow to Dubai and Hamburg. They returned with more than 15 billion dollars of funding commitments for a variety of tourism projects, from hotels, to resorts and coastline development. All the backers have been invited to attend FIHA.

Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, the world’s largest and most experienced hospitality consultants, has been guiding Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts. He said: “It’s a blank page that the industry can write on in the most exciting way. Much has to be built – hotels alongside cultural centres and conference facilities, among other things. The amazing coastline offers great ‘bleisure’ (a mix of business and leisure) opportunities. Beyond Abidjan; Boulay island, Bassam and Jacqueville are currently the most promising locations.” He sees the greatest potential in ‘mixed-use’ projects, combining leisure, office and retail units with hospitality, in particular, branded 2-star & 3-star hotels and extended stay apartments.

Leading the country’s ambition to make tourism one of the main pillars of the economy, is Tourism Minister Siandou Fofana. Described by Philippe Doizelet as “visionary and deeply committed. He works hard to bring people together and attracts the best experts.”

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Bench Events, Managing Director, Matthew Weihs concluded: “FIHA and its affiliated event, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, are central to driving investments in regional hotel and mixed-use projects. The events connect key international and regional stakeholders, private and institutional investors to the hotel developers and operators that are fuelling the growth of the hotel industry across the continent. The projects that are promoted and funded at FIHA drive investments in tourism, stimulate economic growth in regional markets, create jobs and encourage much needed infrastructure.”

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Barcelona: Real reason for Messi’s u-turn

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Lionel Messi said on Friday he will stay at Barcelona, insisting he could never go to court against “the club of his life”.But he launched a stinging attack on Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, accusing him of going back on an agreement to let him leave for free at the end of last season.

“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,” Messi said in an interview with Goal, released on Friday.

“I thought and we were sure that I was free. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not and now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before June 10 when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for the league in the middle of this shitty virus and this disease that altered all the dates.”

Messi, 33, added: “And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.

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“This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.”

Messi had said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a boy after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.

His lawyers sent a burofax stating his intention to go for free on August 25 but Messi says he had made his feelings clear to Bartomeu many times before.

“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go,” said Messi. “I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.

‘Everything became difficult’

“I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over, feeling very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.

“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new goals, new horizons.

“It wasn’t because of the Champions League result against Bayern, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I told the president and the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not end up keeping his word.”

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Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June next year.

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Messi set to quit Barcelona

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Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wants to “unilaterally” terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca a fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause.

However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.

“In principial, this clause expired on June 10, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.

“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”

According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.

“The end of the glorious era of Leo Messi at Barcelona seems to be close. After the arrival of Ronald Koeman, what looks like the exit of his friend Luis Suarez and a difficult and turbulent end to the season, Messi told Barcelona in a fax of his intention to leave the club,” said Once radio station.

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Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon earlier this month, resulting in the dismissal of coach Quique Setien after barely six months in charge.

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Oyo govt. to spend N5.5bn on Lekan Salami sports complex’s facilities’ upgrade

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Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Thursday disclosed that the contract for the remodeling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ibadan was awarded to Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, at a total cost of Five Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty Million, One Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty-One Naira, Sixty-Two Kobo (₦5,580,001,151:62k).

The governor stated that the Complex will be upgraded to a world class standard.

 

He also informed that the project will be funded through the Alternate Project Funding Approach (APFA), which entails that the contractor will fund the project, while the state will repay the contractor over a period of 29 months.

 

The governor, who stated this at the main bowl of the stadium, while flagging off the project, asdured that his administration will continue to walk its talk, matching policies with actions.

 

Contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde stressed, “the contractors, Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, have given us the assurance that the project will be completed in 18 months. By God’s grace, in the next 12 months, coronavirus would have left us, and we will have the opportunity to sit here, in this stadium, fully remodelled and watch my team, the 3SC beat their opponents, live! So Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns, 12 months is 12 months. No delays and you have to do a quality job that the people of Oyo State will be proud of.

 

“This is another step in the right direction, positioning Oyo State to attract investments. I hear some people are already saying we should slow down but I am here to tell them that this is not the time to even think of slowing down. Our administration is here to grow Oyo State and to make sure everyone in our beloved state feels the real dividends of democracy.

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“When the history of this place was being traced just now, they flagged off this facility 44 years ago. It was commissioned 32 years ago; and I came here once to watch a 3SC game and, at half time, I went to the changing room to talk to and encourage the players but I could not believe what I saw: players sat on the bare floor. And I asked myself, is this where we want to mould world-beating athletes? So, I said ‘no’. I felt for both the players and the crew.

 

“After that, I decided to, on my own, visit this place and looked at all of the facilities that we have in here. They were all in a state of dilapidation”, he lamented.

 

The governor who declared that the remodelling project was another step in the direction of positioning the state to attract greater investments, said his administration would not be deterred by criticisms and that it would ensure that every resident of the state feels the real dividends of democracy.

 

He added that for the state to attract the right investments, it must raise its game in terms of infrastructure and matching what obtains in other places, saying that this is the path his administration has been toeing, which is responsible for its attention to fix roads, install street lights and invest heavily on infrastructure and security.

 

“Oyo State has had a rich sporting history. Back in 1963, the first World Boxing title fight in Africa was held here in Oyo State. We were able to host that fight and benefit from all the tourism revenue because we had the facilities to do so. And so, we are remodelling this sports complex now, so we can reap the benefits in  Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. If there was a call for cities to host a national sporting event today, can Oyo State boast of having the facilities? The answer is no.

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“So, in Oyo State, we cannot attract investors without the right infrastructure. If we are telling people to leave wherever they are and come here, we should be able to give them what they are benefiting where they are or even more.

 

 

“If we keep saying Oyo State is ready for business, without the right infrastructure in place, they will tell us they like our policies, but they want to see better facilities. So, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that whenever investors come calling, we are ready to receive them and make them stay. And that means we must match our policies with action.

 

“We have already told them there will be no multiple taxation and that we will not wake up and impose random taxes on them. They can see that this is true. We have also promised that they will not spend hours in traffic, we are keeping our promise by investing in road construction and rehabilitation. We are putting street lights all over the place. We also have to match the tourism and recreational facilities that they have in other places.

 

 

“If the government can provide facilities that are comparable to those those in any part of the world, then we can be sure that all our talents and youths will have somewhere to come to. And we will discover more talents and we will have more record setters coming out of Oyo State. And this is why we are here.”

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Earlier, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Seun Fakorede, said the remodelling is essential for the growth and survival of Sports and the engagement of youth productively.

He noted that the remodelling will attract international focus and change the economic fortune of the state, through hosting of national and international sports tournaments.

 

In his remarks, the managing Director of Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Limited, Mr. Adeleke Olanrewaju, said that the benefit which Lekan Salami will bring to the state will be unquantifiable through talent development and others, adding that the remodeling of the stadium will also boost the IGR, of the state.

 

“In the present day, stadium facilities can generate incomes; for example, the hosting of a national sports festival can bring in as much as 7billion Naira, the hosting of a national cup will also bring in as much as 10 billion Naira. Some of these funds go directly into the government purse while a larger percentage goes into the local economy to stimulate it.”

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