Africa > West Africa > Burkina faso > Burkina Faso Tourism Sector Profile

Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso Tourism Sector Profile

2015/08/10

 

All visitors must have a passport, visa, and a certificate of yellow fever vaccination. A cholera immunization is also recommended. Tourist attractions include the Nazinga, Arly, and "W" park game preserves, the National Museum and artesian centers in Ouagadougou and market towns such as Gorom-Gorom. In 1998 there were 612,787 tourist arrivals, tourist expenditures totaled $42 million, and the hotels had an occupancy rate of 58%.

In 2002, the US government estimated the costs of staying in Ouagadougou at $136 per day. Costs are significantly cheaper outside the capital. Daily expenses in Bobo-Dioulasso are estimated at $73, while costs elsewhere in the country can drop to $65 per day.

Festival fun

The capital of Ouagadougou plays host to a number of cultural festivals and exhibitions throughout the year as a showcase for the country’s dance, theatre, poetry, film, art and music.

Tourists are also drawn by Burkina’s strong tradition of art and crafts, such as wood carvings, bronzes, textiles, pottery, leatherwork and jewellery. The modern art scene is particularly strong.
Out in the wilds

Domes de Fabedougou, BanforaBurkina has some unusual landscapes for sightseers, such as the 'Domes de Fabedougou' near Banfora – see Map.

The country's national parks and reserves also attract many visitors.

The safari industry is still underdeveloped. Parks often lack good roads for easy access or the kind of luxury accommodation expected by some tourists. However, most visitors appreciate the friendly service offered by local people and the authenticity of the safari experience. Wildlife in Burkina has to be tracked – in other countries, gamekeepers use food as a lure – and animals are viewed in the course of their normal routines.

Travelling in Burkina

The capital has seen an explosion of cars in recent years. But though main highways have a tarmac surface, local roads are often poor quality. In more rural areas, private cars are less common (apart from old taxis).

Inbound tourism affected by regional insecurity and internal unrest

Regional insecurity and social unrest are some of the major challenges currently facing inbound tourism in Burkina Faso. While the country’s economy is slowly recovering from internal civil unrest and military demonstrations that took place in 2011 and 2012, its travel and tourism industry as well underwent a very difficult period due to an ongoing political crisis in neighbouring Mali. Internal violent demonstrations inclunding insecurity in the region had a negative result on the number of tourists who visited Burkina Faso in 2012. The deep decline in Mali’s travel and tourism industry has been damaging to Burkina Faso because the country was a highlight of travel to West Africa, where tour operators drew in tourists to Burkina Faso by offering package tours involving multiple components and locations in Mali.

Culture and handicrafts are key contributors to travel and tourism growth

Handicrafts and culture remained the major contributors to the development of travel and tourism in Burkina Faso. The country has a strong tradition of modern arts and crafts, such as woodcarvings, jewellery and pottery. Burkina Faso is as well benefiting from the dynamism of its leadership in culture, where international artists and tourists are drawn to the country each year to attend world-renowned cultural festivals, such as CNS (culture), FESPACO (film festival), NAK (atypical nights), SIAO (arts and crafts), FESTIMA (Festival of Arts and Masks) and SITHO (tourism and hotels). Visitors are as well attracted to the country’s cultural and tourist sites, such as the Ruins of Loropeni and Laongo (village of granite sculpture).

Boost in air transport with the arrival of two major airlines

Air transport accounts for the major % share of passenger transportation to Burkina Faso. This category of transportation remained the majority preferred mode of travel to the country over the review period and this was half due to arrival of Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines. Kenya Airlines is one of the leading sub-Saharan air operators and started flights services to Burkina in mid-2011. Turkish Airlines, which has the world’s fifth-major flight network, commenced flight operations in late 2012. The arrival of these two major airlines will help develop air transport and as well raise the profile of travel and tourism as a whole in the country. The expansion of these airlines’ networks in Burkina Faso will further boost visitor arrivals and as well help create jobs and investment in the country. A wider range of business opportunities will as well be available as a result.

Hotel owners implement different strategies to improve performance

Burkina Faso is home to several international hotel chains. Over the last few years of the review period, several hoteliers embarked on strategies to improve their quality of service in a bid to establish and maintain better relationships with potential guests. Some of the strategies include the fight against child sex tourism. The country’s hotel infrastructure is greatly concentrated in the capital city of Ouagadougou, with business travellers accounting for the majority of clients. Other hotels of good quality can be found in the second-major city of Bobo-Dioulasso, inclunding near major cultural and tourist sites. Hotels continued to account for the major share of travel accommodation in 2012 in terms of both volume and current price.

Travel and tourism plays a minor role despite huge potential

Burkina Faso has a lot to offer tourists regardless of the minor role played by its travel and tourism industry. The country’s strong arts and crafts scene, inclunding cultural heritage, are features that will continue to attract visitors someday; however, there is need to develop its cultural and tourism potential to generate additional foreign currency earnings from tourists. Furthermore, amid ongoing insecurity in the region, Burkina Faso as well needs to do additional to promote and market the country as a tourist destination. Efforts should be made to mitigate the impact of security on travel and tourism increase in the region. Fostering links with peaceful neighbours with a stable political and social climate, such as Ghana, could boost next increase of its travel and tourism industry.