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Senegal tourism ’in total paralysis’ due to Covid-19 pandemic

The House of Slaves is seen on Goree Island, Senegal. Picture: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The House of Slaves is seen on Goree Island, Senegal. Picture: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Published Jul 6, 2021

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Dakar - Despite the efforts made by the Senegalese state, the country's hotel and tourism industry is still struggling to recover from the crisis stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hotel and tourism industry is at the end of its tether.

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The signals are red; the end of the tunnel is still far away.

“We are in a state of total paralysis with turnover divided by 10 for most of us. Not to mention those who have purely and simply closed their businesses because of the restrictions that are slowing down tourist activity,” said Mamadou Racine Sy, the president of the Federation of Hotel and Tourism Employers’ Organizations (FOPAHT).

Presiding on Monday in Dakar the regional forum on the impact of the pandemic on hotel and tourism enterprises in the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Sy lamented that this sector has been “the most impacted (by Covid-19) with its trail of deaths, layoffs, closure of enterprises...”

“The pandemic was on an unprecedented scale. An unprecedented level of violence has been inflicted on our sector,” he said, stressing that the impact is so considerable that it will take a few years to be able to measure it.

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What about the recovery? For the CEO of the King Fahd Palace resort, it is only in “2023 that we will be able to talk about recovery, especially since we are talking about a third wave and cases are increasing at an exponential rate.”

“We are in a resilience phase. However, we are hopeful for a better future for the tourism sector in the UEMOA region, even if it has been affected (...). It will be very difficult to heal the wounds,” he said.

He assures however that the actors will fight so that the freedom to come and go is a reality in the UEMOA area and in the ECOWAS zone.

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Sy took the opportunity to denounce the “complex” of Africans in relation to the West.

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“In our countries, we are full of complexes. When it comes from abroad everyone applauds, when it comes from home, people criticize,” he said.

For the president of FOPAHT, it is necessary that we learn to visit the sites of our countries.

“As long as we do not have this awareness, this will to live together and to promote intra-African tourism, we will not go far. If we do not have this African nationalism, we will miss out,” Mr Sy concluded.

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