From: Reuters
Published April 3, 2007 09:45 AM

U.S. Developer To Build Hotels in Congo National Park

BRAZZAVILLE -- Congo Republic has signed a deal to allow a U.S. developer to build hotels and casinos in a natural park that is home to several endangered species, a source at the Forestry Ministry said on Monday.


The agreement, signed last week in the commercial capital Point-Noire, gives Utah-based Pioneer International Development a 50-year licence to develop eco-tourism in the Conkouati-Douli National Park, the central African country's most diverse reserve.


The contract foresees a trial period for the government to review the performance of Pioneer, which was established in 2004 and has offices in several African countries.


"After the signing of this protocol ... Pioneer will appoint operators to begin the development process under the supervision of the Forestry Ministry," said a copy of the accord, read to Reuters by the source.


President Denis Sassou-Nguesso's government came under fire from environmental groups in January for awarding an oil exploration licence within the park to a subsidiary of France's Maurel & Prom, contradicting the park's charter.


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Stretching from deep in the Atlantic Ocean to the central African country's inland hills, Conkouati-Douli's 505,000 hectares are home to a host of rare and endangered species including leatherback turtles, mandrills, gorillas and chimpanzees.


Source: Reuters


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