Tourism in Senegal

By | March 23, 2021

Tourism posters in Sine Saloum

Tourism posters in Sine Saloum

The tertiary sector accounts for around 60% of GDP.

It is the tourism of the second largest foreign exchange earner.

Much of the Senegalese tourism sector is still hand-knitted like these posters. What seems charming and authentic to some is a shortcoming for others.

Tourist impressions in Senegal

Bathing island Ngor near Dakar

Bathing island Ngor near Dakar

Campement in Sine Saloum

Campement in Sine Saloum

Boat trip through the mangroves

Boat trip through the mangroves

Iles des Madeleines bird sanctuary near Dakar

Iles des Madeleines bird sanctuary near Dakar

Evening mood on Fadiouth

Evening mood on Fadiouth

Campement in the Bassari country

Campement in the Bassari country

Hotel Meridien in Dakar

Hotel Meridien in Dakar

Toubab Dialaw

Toubab Dialaw

In 2007 around 800,000 tourists visited the country, but in recent years there has been a downward trend in visitor numbers, which has averaged around 450,000 since 2009 (2012: 436,000, source: National Statistics Office). The country is still worlds away from the target of 3 million visitors for 2022. As a first measure to stimulate tourism, the visa requirement, which was only introduced in 2013, was abolished on May 1, 2015 and the airport fees, which are very high in international comparison, were reduced.

First and foremost, there is beach and package tourism, as well as high-quality congress tourism in the capital Dakar.

Furthermore, the telecommunications industry is decisive: there are three mobile phone providers today. With the Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes, Senegal has had an independent control authority for the sector since 2001.

Thanks to the well-developed telecommunications sector, Senegal has become one of the most important countries in the south-north outsourcing and French companies rely on the services of Senegalese call centers with their lower personnel costs.

BCEAO building in the city center

BCEAO building in the city center

The banking sector is well developed, there are over 30 established banks and other financial institutions in Senegal, but they only finance around 25% of economic activity. With an annual turnover of 2,655 billion FCFA (approx. 4 billion euros), Senegal has the second largest banking market in the West African economic and monetary union after Côte d’Ivoire.

Mini-entrepreneurs, especially women, often finance their activities through a system of Tontines, a kind of private savings association.

Of course, the microfinance sector is now well represented with around 30 accredited organizations.

The headquarters of the West African central bank is also in Dakar.

The common currency, the Franc CFA, is tied to the euro (EUR 1 corresponds to FCFA 655.957).

Regional economic cooperation

As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union UEMOA and the West African Economic Community CEDEAO (ECOWAS), Senegal is a heavyweight in the regional economy. After Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, Senegal is the fourth largest economic power in the region.

As one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to physicscat, Senegal is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

After the outbreak of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, many international organizations relocated to Dakar, but in the private sector the country “profited” less from the problems of the second regional economic power. Even the port of Dakar, despite its size and despite the “failure” of the port of Abidjan, has not played an important role as the port of entry for the region, as the transport connections to neighboring countries are not well developed. Infrastructure expansion is one of the priorities of the governments and the donors represented in the region.

The major transport infrastructure projects include the construction of an international airport 45 km east of Dakar and the construction of a toll highway from Dakar to this airport.

In Senegal, the EU and the MCC in particular are financing the expansion of the road network.

Typical street scenes around Dakar: notorious traffic jams, poorly developed public transport and overloaded trucks, which represent the only freight connection for the surrounding area and even the neighboring countries:

Permanent traffic jam on the feeder highway to Dakar

Permanent traffic jam on the feeder highway to Dakar

Mostly completely overloaded trucks are the only freight options

Mostly completely overloaded trucks are the only freight options

Senegal overview

With more than 500 km of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, the country is at the westernmost tip of Africa. The landscape and climate are relatively homogeneous, only the southernmost region of Casamance, separated from the rest of the country by the enclave of Gambia, differs significantly.

History & State

A 50-year history since independence without coups and a minimum of democratic conditions make the country one of the most stable on the continent.

Economy & Development

An overwhelming majority of the Senegalese population still works in agriculture, a fragile and low-income sector. Another characteristic of the economy is the dominance of the informal sector.

Society & culture

Cultural diversity and peaceful inter-ethnic and inter-religious coexistence characterize Senegal. Education and healthcare are facing great difficulties.

Everyday life & practical information

Life in the metropolis of Dakar and life in the country are fundamentally different. Dakar of course offers greater comfort, but also more traffic jams, pollution and crime.