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Niger: Niger Tourism Profile 2012

2012/03/21

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Niger Tourism Profile 2012

Analyse of the sector 30/11/2010
Kidnappings discourage tourists from travelling to Niger
The political and security situation in Niger remains unpredictable following a military coup in February 2010. Furthermore, there is an ongoing threat of kidnapping against westerners in Niger, particularly outside Niamey. As a result, several countries have imposed warnings against travelling to Niger's north, including the US and Australia.
Due to the prevailing security situation, tourism in the north of the country has come to a halt, as international tourists have proven reluctant to travel there. As a result, the Niger Centre for the Promotion of Tourism has acknowledged the need to concentrate on promoting the south of the country as long as the north remains a volatile and dangerous destination.
 
Political upheaval of concern to investors
 
President Mamadou Tandji’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly and the nation’s high court in 2009, which enabled him to extend his mandate for an additional three years, led to several opposition-led protests.
Niger was to set to become a major source of Uranium energy with over 130 government licences available, but due to political uncertainty only a small percentage of these licences were obtained, as investors felt unsure about investing in Niger. These political doubts could also discourage potential investors with interests in a number of other areas, including tourism. Due to postponing its legislative elections, Niger had its membership of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) suspended, while aid from some western countries was also halted.
 
Transportation in Niger remains underdeveloped
 
Transportation in Niger is still underdeveloped, as the country’s road network remains in poor condition. The main roads are in cities like Zinder, Arlit and Gaya, while secondary roads are oftentimes not navigable after heavy rainfall and most roads remain unpaved. Despite a proposal, sponsored by the governments of Niger and Benin, to extend the Benin Railway to Niamey, the capital of Niger, the country still has no rail network. There were also plans to introduce another line linking Niamey with Dori in Bukina Faso, which would connect with the new line from Kaya to Tambao.
 
Tourism in Niger
 
Tourism in Niger remains underdeveloped. Travel accommodation is not up to international standards and remains limited due to the lack of investment in the industry. Likewise there has been a lack of public investment in promotional projects, while transportation infrastructure remains in poor condition. While Niger is blessed with a stunning natural landscape, the lack of foreign investment has hindered tourism in Niger from developing at the same pace as in neighbouring countries, such as Nigeria.
Zuma Rock is one of the sites in Niger with great potential as a tourist destination. Seeking to capitalise on this, Niger’s Ministry of Tourism undertook a project to construct a 5-star hotel near the site, but it was later allowed to fall into neglect. The Ministry of Tourism needs to formulise a plan for the development of tourism in Niger which will encourage investors to come onboard, but this can only be achieved once peace and stability have been restored.
 
Ecotourism in Niger
 
Ecotourism in Niger is developing, albeit gradually. One of the latest initiatives which Niger’s government has undertaken involved establishing a number of mechanisms to enable the peaceful coexistence between agricultural communities and hippopotamus’. Steps taken included fencing off a number of islands in the Niger River to ensure pastures were maintained for the hippopotamus. The country enjoys many attractions, including national parks and an abundance of wildlife, which if properly managed could drive the growth of tourism in Niger.

A diverse and varied destination
An armed rebellion in the northern part of the country at the beginning of the 1990s, the two state military coups of 1996 and 1999 in Niger, taking European hostages in Algeria and the closure of the Mano Dayak Airport in Agadez for renovations, are many of the reasons why Niger has the image of a high risk country and have made it disappear from the tourist destinations list. For example, the Paris-Dakar Rally had to abandon the stage that goes through Niger for safety and security reasons.


The returning of political stability and piece of mind, through the lighting of the “flame of peace" in Agadez on December 25th 2000 by President Mamadou Tandja, has seen a marked improvement in the tourism industry.
Providing a perfect oasis in the Sahara, Niger is a preferred destination for many filmmakers (e.g. Jean Rouch for his uncountable ethnographical films about Niger, Raymond Despardon for "the captive of the desert" and Bertolucci for "Tea in the Sahara").
Niger offers a variety of tourist wealth from the aquatic and sahalian fauna in the river region, to the magnificent sand dunes of the Ténéré desert and the Aïr mountains.


The desert: sand dunes, mountains and prehistoric remnants.
In the northern region of Niger, Agadez is an escape destination which received more than 3 000 tourists in 2000. Indeed, the region really does offer diverse tourist attractions with the Aïr mountain range, the sand dunes of Ténéré and the remnants of ancient civilisations in abandoned cities, the rock engravings and prehistoric deposits (the most renowned being the dinosaur cemetery in Gadafaoua).


A varied fauna:consisting of mouflon sheep, adax, gazelles and ostriches live between the lakeside lacustrines, ergs, sand dunes and Oases.
The frequency of tourist visits have favoured the development of hotel infrastructures in Agadez, which has 14 hotels (ranging from 1 to 4 stars), campsites and around thirty travel agencies which organise tours.


The river valley: a fauna consisting of a multitude of species
Besides the desert, Niger has a rich and varied fauna consisting of a multitude of wildlife species, which live essentially in the Western region of the country. Certain animals are the last of their kind in Western Africa, particularly the giraffes.
Giraffes can be found on the site of Kouré, 75 kilometres from the capital of Niamey, and the elephants can be seen in the W Park reserve in Tapoa and in the region of Maradi.
The importance of the fauna can particularly be seen in the W Park, 145 kilometres from the capital Niamey, where there are elephants, hinds, gazelles, buffaloes, fassa cobs, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and a multitude of birds.
The avifauna is made up of ostriches, griffon vultures, wildcats, eagles, tumblers, crowned cranes, Canada geese, etc.
The W Park was created in 1954 because of its biological diversity. It is the only park where one may find big African migratory fauna.


Hunting and Fishing
Fishing in Niger takes place on the Djoliba River, on Lake Chad, along Komadougou Yobé and around some permanent waterholes in the heart of the country. However, it is not very developed because of a lack of alethic resources.
Hunting has been reopened since 1996. It is the subject of much attention with policies that encourage its promotion. Practised by amateur and professional hunters, its popularity has increased.
For the 2002-2003 season, the granting of shooting licences for around thirty national and foreign hunters allowed the State to collect over 114 million CFA Francs.
Eight concessions or hunting zones in the regions of Tchintabaraden, Tchirozérine, Dakoro, Tanout and N' Guigmi were assigned to hunters with precise specifications of their responsibilities for the preservation of the rich natural resources.
If some of the hunters come to win trophies, others, among which notably the Arabic Princes of the Persian Gulf, come to get fresh supplies of meat from rare birds, mainly the Canadian geese.
Regional folklore and culture
Niger is a country rich in regional and cultural folk variety, enriched by a distant past of civilisations that have crossed the country. Each of the eight regions of the country has its own uniqueness and its own identifying traditional rites, which are deeply etched in the people’s memory.


Agadez
A tourist region including the Aïr mountain range, the Ténérés desert with its living sand dunes, Djado and its lost cities, Agadez is a desert zone which receives rain each year varying from 150 mm in the South to 75 mm in the North.
Four different morphological regions can be seen:
- Aïr: crystalline and volcanic mountain ranges whose peak reaches between 1000 m and 2000 m, plus fossil valleys in Azawak;
- The Irhazer plain: vast clay valleys limited to the North by Aïr and to the South by the cliffs of Tadress and Tiguidit (famous zone where Alfadi organised the first international Festival of African Fashion (FIMA).
- The erg of Ténéré: this is the 3rd region, the vast desert stretch between the Aïr mountains and the Djado plateau.
- Ténéré is separated from the large erg at Bilma, extending to the East towards Tibesti by the cliffs of Kawar.
- Finally, the last zone is the Djado plateau, a rocky desert plain with broken valleys.
The City of Agadez, about six centuries old, remains mysterious because of its cosmopolitan population and its lively heritage.
The transfer of the Sultanate from Tedliza in the city of Agadez in 1422 marks the appearance of the city on a regional scale. However, it has existed since the 10th century alongside cities such as Takeda and Azelic whose ruins are found to the east of Teguidan-Tessoum.
Susceptible to all the common religions, mankind and history, the city has preserved its traditional aspect. The Sultan of Agadez watches over a community consisting of Gobirawa, Azna, Tuaregs, Toubou, Haoussa, Songhai and Zarma tribes.
The large Mosque at Agadez is 32 metres high and is visible from a great distance. The very developed craft’s sector has symbolic objects, products of a simple custom or fineries, among which the cross of Agadez, which is world renown.
The celebration of Tendé, a custom introduced by the monk Zakaria, is celebrated on the occasion of the Mouloud. It has now become an annual festival which is called the “Bianu”.


Diffa
The manga country situated on the edges of Komadougou Yobé, Lake Chad and the Tal Desert, is a country of Toubou and Béribéri warriors whose symbolic image closes off national television broadcasts. In this region, the Toubou, Béribéri, Toumou, Manga, Kanouri, Haoussa and Boudouma tribes live together. It is especially religious ministers who live from livestock rearing, including the Kouris cow whose hollow horns serve as floating buoys on the water; farmers that are well experienced in growing peppers, and fishermen who often live in papyrus dugouts along the waters of Lake Chad.
A multitude of bird species meet at and breed around Lake Chad.
Some of these are small white herons, egrets, ibises, stilts, Egyptian plovers, lapwings, jacanas, crowned cranes, Gambian gees and chirping ducks.


Dosso
Situated at the crossroads for highways coming from the East, the South and West, the region of Dosso singles itself out with its valleys of ancient tributaries from the River Niger: the Dallols are Bosso, Foga and Maourey, whose sources can be found in Adar, Iforas and Aïr. A very fertile area, these Dallols are exploited by farmers and livestock rearers, in an environment formerly populated by wild animals. It is in these areas that we meet the last giraffes of Western Africa.
The city of Dosso, founded in the 13th Century by the Zarma tribe after the fall of Gao, shelters the Sultan’s Palace, built following Sudanese architecture before which horsemen parade in ceremonial costumes during celebrations.
In the South, fishermen organise annual ceremonies on the water to calm the geniuses of the River from Gaya to Kare Kopto.
The regional museum, which was built a few years ago, brings together tourist products which have an unmistakable value.
The Maouloud, or celebration of the birth of the Prophet, creates the occasion for an annual pilgrimage so that thousands of Muslims from various countries come together in Kiota.


Maradi
La region of Maradi is the economic force of Niger. It has a common history with the principalities of Haoussa in Northern Nigeria. This common past has created social and economic relations between the inhabitants of the region and those of Northern Nigeria.
The city of Maradi, which was reconstructed to plan after 1945, shelters the Sultan’s Palace, several mosques and enormous markets.
The Haoussa tribe, which makes up the majority of the population, is involved in diverse activities. The mains ones are as follows: trade, agriculture, livestock rearing, including the red haired goat (known worldwide for the quality of their skin which is called "Sokoto leather ").
Crafts (blacksmiths, weavers, shoemakers, tanners and embroiders) are a rapidly growing business sector.
One of the tourist attractions of the region is at the edge of the Madarounfa Lake, 25 kilometres from the city, where thousands of believers go every year to meditate at the tombs of the Saints.
In this region, you can often see herds of elephants that live along the border with Nigeria.


Niamey
The political capital of Niger since 1927, Niamey is a city in full swing where the old districts with their aboriginal populations give way to new buildings built by young economic entrepreneurs who are full of energy.
Almost everywhere, buildings several storeys high are rising towards the sky.
Niamey is the kaleidoscope of Niger from the point of view of its population. Nowadays, the city has several industrial sites, trading houses, banking institutions and social service centres.
An international airport provides services to other regions in the country as well as other countries around the world.


The National Museum, the centre of the art professions of Niger, the crafts’ village, the large and small markets, the Katako market, the pill beach and the Rio Bravo gulf are some of the tourist attractions that Niamey has to offer.
A trip in a dugout boat on the river offers tourists the chance to discover water birds, tourist camps and some fishermen's villages.


Tahoua
A well-known pastoral region, Tahoua is the former stopover for caravans, which has contributed towards the development of a large market where the Aderawa, Haoussa, Peulhs, Tuaregs and Zarma tribes all meet up.
The city of Tahoua has become the capital of the principalities of "Fakawa" and "Madawa" and is on the border of the crop area and the Sahelian area.
The architecture of the houses, most of them being made of ochre laterite mud, has kept its ancient style of Sudanese architecture with its three-dimensional facades and large courtyards.
At the foot of one of the cliffs in the region, at Massalata, the Azna people, who are still animistic, organise a ceremony of fortune telling every year.
Tillabéri
A river region where the population makes their living from fishing, growing rice and agriculture, Tillabéri is becoming a place of more and more importance with its gold-bearing sites, which occasionally cause a gold rush. The city of Tillabéri is a recent political and administrative creation, in order to better serve the Songhaï, Wogo, Zarma, Kourté, Fulani and Gourmantché tribes of the region.


The region of Tillabéri is endowed with tourist landscapes made up of islands all along the river, along the tourist camps, prehistoric sites of noteworthy interest, and gold-bearing sites, etc.


Zinder
Zinder, or the region of the Damagaram, lies at the crossroads connecting the Sahara in the South of Nigeria to the highways that leave the River towards Lake Chad. It is a meeting place for the nomads in the North, the Haoussa farmers and traders in the South and the Kanouris in the East.
The city of Zinder has a history that dates back to the 8th century, and was the first capital of Niger. The Sultan’s Palace presents a multiple figured Sudanese architectural style. The old district of Birni, which encircled the surrounding walls that were built by the Sultan Tanimoune, has kept its charm with its winding Haoussa-style alleys.
The district of Zongo was created upon a former caravan site where the Tuareg tribe passed through on their way to sell salt from the Oases in Nigeria.
In the city centre, the administrative district with its Tanimoune Fortress, which is called Captain Cazemazou, is set upon a chaotic array of enormous rocks.
Water wells can be found outside the city where they had cast away the body of the settler Cazemajou, as can the caverns and tombs of important religious people.
The region of Zinder boasts multiple tourist attractions, with the Guidimouni Lake and its fertile banks, the numerous oases and Koris de Matamey, the pottery works of Mirriah, etc.
The knights of the Sultanate of Zinder are known for the beauty of the fierceness of their horses during the parades.