Cameroon (National Times)-In line with the requirements of hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Government of Cameroon had shortlisted hotels to host delegations from the participating 24 countries and other tourists who were to visit the country during the soccer jamboree.
Like in every football tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), hotels and resort centres to host visitors are recommended at least six months before the start of the tournament.
The decision by CAF to shortlist hotels is to better prepare the structures before the start of the games.
CAF had inspected over 50 hotels and resorts to host foreign delegations and teams representing the 24 countries partaking in the soccer fiesta.
Among the 50 inspected hotels, 23 were shortlisted by CAF given their level of preparedness.
After t h eir selection, many private hotel owners went into loan agreements with the Government and other commercial banks in order to carry out extension works and upgrade their hotel capacities.
Some managers secured loans from a micro finance institution and started renovating their hotels ahead of the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
The National Times gathered that a Hotel in Limbe, South West Region of Cameroon (name withheld) had taken loan worth FCFA 5 million to carry out renovation works, which the works had begun and was expected to end in February 2019.
The hotel manager like other hotel managers in Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Garoua who were also shortlisted had taken loans hoping that during the AFCON games from June to July, they will recover the money and pay back the loans.
Following the announcement on Friday, November 30, 2018 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) stripping off Cameroon’s hosting rights; managers of these hotels are confused and frustrated on how to repay the loans they have taken.
Other business operators like the transport sector, proprietors of inter-city bus agencies had made huge investments by importing brand new buses to expand their fleet.
These proprietors now weep as they will be unable to recover their investments.
With the expansion of the competition from 16 to 24 teams, the country tourism sector was already envisaging a boom with thousands of visitors that were expected to come.
The attacks from the North by Boko Haram and the on-going unrest in the two English-speaking Regions have reduced the number of visitors coming to the country.
For Cameroon, hosting the 2019 AFCON was the only hope to recover its pride as Africa in miniature and to showcase its cultures and peaceful co-existence.
This would no longer be possible as the hosting rights have been denied by CAF.
It should be noted that operators of small and medium size enterprises and catering services, which were operating businesses near the venues of the tournament were chased out and structures dismantled in order to rebrand the surrounding venues.
These business people had to relocate while others went out of business since they cannot afford new location. All these were to prepare the country for the soccer showpiece.
The organisation of the AFCON was going to change the fortunes of many Cameroonians given the population that was expected.
According to senior analyst for Central Africa at International Crisis Group, Hans De Marie Heungoup, more than FCFA 110 billion of investments had already been done in the country or scheduled in 2019.
The African Cup of Nations is a big tournament which usually gives a boost to the economy of host countries.
The country has lost the opportunity to reinvigorate her limping economy.