The number of foreign tourists visiting Cape Verde was approximately 150,000 in 2000, a figure which has steadily increased every year to around 280,500 in 2006. Based on these figures, there is considerable room for further growth as airlines are currently working at an average of 75% capacity. The Government expects to attract around 520,000 tourists in 2008 and hopes to increase this number to 1,000,000 by 2009.
Of the estimated 280,582 people who visited Cape Verde in 2006, 59.6% stayed in Sal, 19.8% in Santiago, 7.7% in Sao Vicente and 7.5% in Boa Vista. Despite the growth in tourist numbers the islands continue to operate at less than full capacity. In 2006 Sal's hotel occupancy rate was 55%, illustrating the real ability to absorb further growth.
Between 1999 and 2006 the number of beds available for tourists increased by 35%, from 3,874 to 10,360, with 59% of them on the island of Sal.
A significant contribution to the growth of tourism has been made by the global surfing community. Cape Verde's beaches present ideal conditions for surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding and the islands are now a fixture on the calendars of the sports' worldwide events.
Click here to watch the PWA Windsurfing Championship competition from February 2009.
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