Benin has great potential for tourism, and the government is striving to develop this sector of the economy. The country has a rich cultural heritage, varied scenery, and impressive national parks. However, except for hotels managed by the Sheraton and French PLM chains, the tourist industry remains underdeveloped. Cotonou has an international class hotel, the Benin Sheraton, opened in 1982. The Hotel Aledjo, run by the French-PLM chain, also is first class. Less expensive is the Hotel de la Plage. In the north, the PLM runs an excellent hotel in Natitingou—the Tata-Somba. There is a good hotel in Parakou (Les Routiers). For trips to the Pendjari game park, there is a small (21-room) hotel in Porga. Abomey also has an adequate hotel. In 1993, there were 2,255 hotel rooms, with 4,741 beds and a 32% occupancy rate. In 1998 there were 575,000 visitor arrivals, and tourism payments totaled $33 million.
Tourist attractions include the lake village of Ganvie, two game parks in the north, the ancient royal city of Alromey, several museums, and beaches. Hunting lodges have been built to foster safaris in the two national parks, where strenuous efforts have also been made to preserve wild game. In the south are picturesque villages built on stilts over the waters of the coastal lagoons. Visitors must have a passport, a visa, and proof of vaccination against yellow fever. In 2000, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Cotonou about $139 per day, depending on the choice of hotel. In other regions, the cost can vary from as low as $50 to $90 per day.