You can’t take photos without a permit in Chad, corruption is rampant, there aren’t many attractions or activities, and then there’s the travel advisory by the U.S. State Department.
Yet Hilton Hotels & Resorts just announced its first hotel in Chad — it’s 37th in Africa — the Hilton N’Djamena.
So why is Hilton committed to this market?
Hilton Worldwide officials tried to promote the country’s tourism in prepared statements.
“We’re excited to be opening our first property in Chad,” Jagersbacher said. “Africa is a key focus for us in terms of growth. Hilton N’Djamena is not only a great base for business travelers, but also for those wanting to explore Northern Chad for the sand dunes and Saharan fauna—a jewel amongst the world’s desert landscapes.”
The Hilton N’Djamena “is a magnificent achievement that showcases how far the brand has come in its commitment to this market,” said Rob Palleschi, global head of full-service brands for Hilton Worldwide, in a prepared statement. “Located in the heart of the country, Hilton N’Djamena, with its striking river views and relaxing environment, marks an exciting addition to the Hilton portfolio.”
The hotel has 194 rooms and views of the Chari River in the upscale Sabangali district, HotelBusiness reported.
TripAdvisor hotel reviews provide a different perspective on the country.
In a review of La Residence — N’Djamena’s No. 1-ranked hotel by TripAdvisor reviewers — a traveler to Chad said this: “It was my first time in this hotel, which is, by far, among those I have experienced in N’Djamena, the best. Of course, one doesn’t go to Chad for tourism. It is a dangerous country and movements are restricted all over the place.”
Chad’s President Idriss Deby has been in power for 25 years in the former French colony, Africa’s fifth largest by geographical area. Arabic is the lingua franca in this country of 12 million people with 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups.
Deby is no paragon of democracy or good government, WallStreetJournal reported. Transparency International ranked Chad as the world’s 22nd most corrupt country out of 174. The country’s military has been accused of human-rights abuses.
“But Chad under Deby has also been a staunch foe of Islamic radicalism, something that has made him increasingly useful for the West’s efforts to stabilize the turbulent region,” WSJ reported. “Both France and the U.S. provide military aid to Chad, while Deby, a former general, has invested a significant part of the nation’s oil wealth in modernizing its military, including an air force that can strike Boko Haram positions.”
N’Djamena has eight hotels listed on TripAdvisor. Kempinski Hotel N’Djamena ranks No. 2 by TripAdvisor reviewers. Mercure N’Djamena Le Chari ranks No. 3, Novotel N’Djamena La Tchadienne No. 4 and Soluxe Hotel N’djamena Tchad No. 5.
The new Hilton hotel is located near tourist attractions such as the National Museum, home to N’Djamena’s oldest artifacts; the Grand Marche (Central Market) and Avenue Charles de Gaulle with its European-style colonial houses, Traveller24 reported.
All U.S. government personnel need authorization from the U.S. Embassy to travel outside of N’Djamena, according to the U.S. State Department website. U.S. citizens visiting are urged to avoid travel to border regions, especially the eastern border and the Lake Chad region.
Canada advises against non-essential travel to Chad, including the capital, N’Djamena, due to incidences of violent crime and the threat of terrorism.
“Boko Haram and al-Qai’da in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, are intent on harming Westerners and Western interests and are able to cross borders easily,” according to the State Department.
Chadian Ali Abdel-Rhamane Haggar is rector of the University of N’Djamena and former adviser to Chad’s President Idriss Deby.
“Fighting is what we Chadians know how to do best, and we have now developed a myth of our invincibility in wars,” Haggar said in a WallStreetJournal report. “Boko Haram knows that with us, it’s dealing with people who will not cede any ground.”
Col. Louis Pena is chief of staff of Operation Barkhane, the French military’s N’Djamena-based counterinsurgency effort that operates across West Africa.
“The Chadians have a real combat capacity that is undeniable,” Pena told WallStreetJournal. “A large part of the Chadian army is well equipped and well trained. They charge into the rumble and have no fear. It’s one of the countries and armies on which we rely very strongly.”
If you do go to Chad, be aware that all photography requires a government permit, according to AtlasInternational. Taking photos of military sites, official buildings and airports is prohibited, even with a permit. Sites are not always clearly marked. Film and cameras may be confiscated.
Hilton’s worldwide headquarters are in McLean, Virginia, U.S.
Check out this video of a visit to Chad by DHL AfricaAsOne.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.