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Mali: Mali Tourism Profile


Civil strife devastating for travel and tourism

Each single area of travel and tourism in Mali was heavily affected by the political unrest in the country that erupted into full-out civil war in 2012. Travel and tourism, at least in its previous form, with scores of foreigners exploring the ruins in Timbuktu and other popular destinations, declined rapidly as a result of the civil unrest.

World Heritage Sites blank of visitors

Foreign travellers come to Mali to a great extent to experience the World Heritage Sites Timbuktu, Djenné and Bandiagara. The civil war put a halt to all existing projects that were initiated to open up and develop these sites, and visitor levels to these before crowded tourism attractions were almost non-existent in 2012.

Kidnappings precede civil war

Even before the civil war broke out in 2012, tourists began to vanish next a wave of kidnappings by Islamist radicals in northern Mali in 2010 and 2011. Since again, practically no tourists have dared venture into northern Mali, inclunding the World Heritage Site in Djenné, which, before in the review period, attracted scores of visitors.

Embassy warnings

Foreign embassies have issued warnings against all travel to Mali, leaving travel and tourism – Mali’s third-biggest revenue generator – in ruins. Most leisure travel insurance is not valid if such a warning is issued, leaving those who do dare still travel to the country in great peril should anything happen.

Ecotourism and cultural festivals could lead the way

Ecotourism combined with conventional tourism, and a policy of utilising the festivals held in various regions as tourism resources, is expected to contribute to an increase in visitor numbers once order is restored in the country in the estimate period. Festivals are a rich source of Mali’s culture. Some of the popular festivals include the “Festival in the Desert” at Timbuktu and the “Festival on the Niger” at Ségou.