Burkina Faso: Tourists abandon Bobo-Dioulasso - The360 Travel

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  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Burkina Faso: Tourists abandon Bobo-Dioulasso

    Burkina Faso: Tourists abandon Bobo-Dioulasso

    "We are painted red. There are no more tourists like before. Even the cooperants no longer come, ”laments Antoine Atiou, governor of the Hauts Bassins region in south-west Burkina Faso, the country's tourist pearl abandoned by western travelers due to recurrent jihadist attacks in the country.


    By "painted in red", the governor means advice cards to travelers from Western chancelleries who advise against traveling to Bobo-Dioulasso, even if the city has never been affected by an attack. The North and East are under constant attack (600 dead in four years) when the West has already been attacked and an Italian-Canadian couple disappeared on the road between Bobo and Ouagadougou, the capital.

    There are no specific figures for Bobo-Dioulasso, but at the national level, according to the 2017 Tourism Statistics Dashboard published by the Ministry of Tourism, just under 150,000 of the 500,000 annual visitors come from the foreigners, a decrease of 5.6% compared to 2015. We went from 30,000 overnight stays by travelers from Europe in 2012 to less than 15,000 in 2017. Worse, "the trend has probably accelerated in 2018 and 2019. Ouaga is holding up a little better, because there is business tourism, ”said an operator in the capital.

    "Worse, worse, worse"

    Formerly, Bobo, famous for his masks, his balafons and his batiks, attracted thousands of western tourists who came to see the Great Mosque, the train station, the market. In addition, travelers often slept in Bobo before going around to visit the fortress of Loropeni, domes of Fadedougou, peaks of Sindou, Karfiguela waterfalls, cave houses of Niansogoni… The city also served as a crossroads for those who returned to Dogon country in Mali, Ivory Coast or Ghana.

    “Everyone was going through Bobo. We were truly a tourist region. Now it's over, "said Benjamin Ouedraogo, owner of the Watinoma Hotel and president of the Hauts Bassins Professional Association of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs.

    "We are only making a third of our turnover. Before, we had a filling rate of more than 50%. Now, if we are at 30%... Activity is at its lowest. Customers have lowered prices, you are forced to accept. Some have stopped or are trying to sell, "he said, stressing that the increase in national tourism does not compensate, by far, for the alienation of foreigners.

    He claims to have taken a second activity in construction so as not to close the hotel. "We asked for help, but the state is the catamaran!" He said, after seeing requests for tax cuts or preferential rates for water and electricity denied.

    "It's hard, hard, hard! Worse, worse, worse! It's been a fortnight that we haven't seen a tourist, "laments Sanou Moumouni, a guide for 22 years at the mosque and the old district of Kibidwé. "Because of the (jihadist) assassins, we have no more work. We are fed up. Before there were lots of tourists. Sometimes, during the holidays, you could make 100,000 CFA in two days ($ 220). Now, I haven't made 5000 ($ 11) in 3 months. I live on credit, ”he says.

    In the old district of Kibidwé, women wash their clothes and children play in the earthy streets, but the stalls intended for tourists are mostly closed.

    The artist Sanon Bissiri hurriedly takes out his batiks with African motifs when he sees Western journalists. "I don't hang them up every day, it's no use. Since July, I haven't even sold two batiks. All because of jihadists there, "he said. “Before, in the good months, I could earn 300,000 even 400,000 (CFA francs, $ 875). Now I have to do masonry.”

    The artist sold in particular to an Italian association which regularly came to Bobo-Dioulasso. " It's over. We survive. It’s my wife who supports. I had a motorcycle, I run out of money for gas. I walk every day: 6 km. I don't have enough money to buy medicine for my coughing son. "

    It is also depressed in the bars and maquis of Bobo, famous for its nightlife, its artisanal millet beer (tchapalo), its musicians.

    "It still works a little with the nationals," says musician Gaoussou Ben Sanou. "But it's not the same thing anymore. There is less money, fewer dates, fewer concerts. We don't sell any more records ”.

    "People also hesitate to go out," admits the governor. "All of this weighs on general economic activity. Unfortunately, that is also the objective of the terrorists."

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