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Tourism that Gives Back in Côte d’Ivoire

CESO Communications June 29, 2021

Vibrant cities, breathtaking mountain ranges and verdant rainforests make up a paradise for many visitors travelling to Côte d’Ivoire.

In rural parts of the country, tourism is an important source of empowerment and income generation, especially for women.  

For Marcel Gougou Kouadio, tourism is also about exploring and protecting the natural world. He is the president of the Ivorian Network of Tourism and Agro-Ecotourism (RETACI)—an organization made up of tourism professionals passionate about travel that benefits people, animals and the environment.  

When global travel restrictions halted the arrival of international visitors, Mr. Gougou Kouadio started looking for a way to market sustainable, domestic travel. This approach allows women-led businesses and rural communities that are dependent on ecotourism to make up lost incomes and continue life-sustaining conservation efforts. 

In partnership with CESO, Mr. Gougou Kouadio honed his skills in e-tourism. In a virtual volunteer assignment, CESO Advisor Valérie Garrel led him through a digital marketing strategy so that RETACI members could promote and sell attractions, excursions and goods online to local communities across Côte d’Ivoire.

When global travel restrictions halted the arrival of international visitors, Mr. Gougou Kouadio started looking for a way to market sustainable, domestic travel.

“We discussed offering group outings for students to study the local flora and fauna, weekend hikes for families, and day trips for company retreats,” says Valérie. “I was able to give back to eco-responsible tourism from my own home, which is beautiful to me,” she adds.

Mr. Gougou Kouadio is looking forward to applying what he’s learned from Valérie to RETACI’s website launch. The new site will provide information about excursions offered, photos and reviews, as well as an option to subscribe to electronic mailings for promotional offers and news on tourist hotspots.

RETACI is also attracting more customers on social media. “Our Facebook page is more visible, and our communications activities are very professional,” Mr. Gougou Kouadio shares proudly.

“The CESO Advisor was an expert,” he continues. “She improved the visibility of our network. It was perfect. I would like to say a big thank you to CESO.”

Mr. Gougou Kouadio echoed his praise for CESO at the fourth annual RETACI National Ecotourism Days event in May. After expert panellists discussed ecotourism as a catalyst for inclusive community development, Mr. Gougou Kouadio presented an award to CESO in recognition of its efforts in support of responsible and sustainable tourism.

RETACI held its fourth annual National Ecotourism Days event in May 2021

Dominique Mane, CESO Country Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, was there to accept the award.

“We are very proud and we renew our commitment to achieving RETACI’s objectives for ecotourism development in Côte d’Ivoire,” she says.

Dominique Mane, CESO Country Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, accepts an award from RETACI for efforts towards sustainable tourism.

By harnessing innovation and digitalization and embracing the richness of local landscapes, RETACI is improving livelihoods and growing businesses that prioritize care for the natural world.


Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

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