A major economic feature of the 1990s has been the expansion of the services sector. It contributed about 50 percent of the GDP in 1998 and employed about 37 percent of the labor force in 1994. The transformation of Abidjan's stock market into a regional exchange for the member states of the Union Economique et Monetaire Oeust-Africaine (UEMOA) together with the hosting of the headquarters of the Africa Development Bank is expected to enhance the city's status as a center of financial services.
Emphasis was also placed on the revival of tourism as a major source of foreign exchange. Tourism developed strongly in the 1970s with a newly created ministry stimulating diversification both in location (away from the Abidjan area) and in type of visitors (aside from business travelers) who previously accounted for almost two-thirds of arrivals. Special tax incentives and guarantees were offered for hotel construction, and by 1984 the number of hotels was 452, about 5 times the 1972 level. The number of tourists increased from 93,000 in 1974 to 198,900 in 1979 with business visitors accounting for 40 percent of arrivals. Since then, visitor arrivals have fluctuated in the range of 200,000-290,000 per year, broadly reflecting trends in tourism. The government's target is for 500,000 arrivals by 2000.
Abidjan is also central to regional communications and trade. The service sector's contribution to the GDP increased at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year from 1990 to 1998.