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Tourism’s contribution to Senegal’s economy

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Tourism’s contribution to Senegal’s economy

Tourism is one of the sectors that contributes the most to Senegal’s economic performance. The tourism sector accounts for 7 % of the GDP, and the government aims to increase this percentage to 10 %. Investing in this sector is advantageous for several reasons, including the supportive policies implemented by the government.

Senegal’s economy

Located in West Africa, Senegal is a captivating nation that is embraced by the vast Atlantic Ocean on its western side. It proudly stands alongside Mali to its east, Mauritania to the north, and the vibrant nations of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to its south.

Demographically, the population is estimated at 16.88 million people with an average age of 18 years. The majority of the Senegalese population is Muslim.

Senegal’s economy relies mainly on the mining sector, tourism, fishing, and agriculture. Major exports include gold, refined oil, phosphoric acid, and fish. The main trading partners are Mali, Switzerland, India, China, and Australia. It is crucial to note that the country heavily depends on foreign direct investments. According to a UNCTAD report in 2021, published in 2022, FDI increased by 21 % compared to the previous year, reaching 2.23 billion USD.

The GDP growth rate was 4.7 % in 2022, and projections show that this growth rate will be 5.3 % in 2023, boosted by the oil and gas sector. The nominal GDP reached 27.6 billion USD in 2022, with a per capita GDP of 1,569 USD.

Invest in tourism

The tourism industry in Africa continues to improve. In 2021, this sector contributed 4.4 % to Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 3.8 % the previous year. Consumer spending on tourism, hospitality, and leisure in Africa is projected to soar to a staggering 261.77 billion USD by 2030. This represents an impressive increase of 137.87 billion USD compared to the figures recorded in 2015.

Tourism has significant potential in Africa due to the continent’s natural resources and rich culture. However, except for a few countries like Mauritius and Seychelles, where tourism plays a substantial role in the economy, tourism in Africa is still in the early stages of development.

When talking about tourism in Africa, one of the sectors to consider is accommodation and hospitality. The hospitality industry in Africa is expanding and is expected to grow further in the coming years due to increasing tourist numbers, government efforts to prioritize the sector, and improvements in infrastructure.

Investing in tourism in Senegal

The tourism sector is a cornerstone of Senegal’s economic growth. The sector contributes to 7 % of the GDP, generating approximately 800 million USD in revenue annually. Tourism employs over 150,000 people, making it the largest foreign exchange earner after fishing.

In 2019, tourism accounted for 7 % of Senegal’s GDP, with revenues of nearly 500 billion CFA francs (833.3 million USD). The government aims to increase this percentage to 10 %. The tourism sector is the second-largest source of foreign exchange for Senegal after the fishing industry.

A consulting firm conducted a study on the economic impact of tourism in Senegal. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of tourists increased by 40 %. Hotels were filled at 37 % capacity, and the average length of stay was recorded at 3 days. Interestingly, 64 % of tourists were domestic, and 36 % were international, with the majority coming from Africa (74%), 23 % from Europe, and 3 % from other regions.

Factors influencing tourism

Senegal has immense tourism potential, boasting rich flora and fauna. Measures to protect biodiversity and nature have been implemented by the government. Senegal has 14 national parks, 169 mammal species, and 625 bird species.

Leisure tourism is ensured through nature trips, desert excursions, forest visits, tours of national parks (some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites), fishing activities, arts and crafts, and sports. Senegal is renowned for its athletes and sporting events such as football, basketball, judo, karate, horse riding, and more.

In addition to that, a study conducted by Horwath HTL, a leading global authority in tourism, has highlighted the substantial economic benefits that can stem from the expansion of travel and tourism in the country. Senegal possesses comparative advantages in this regard, including:

  • The country’s strong economic performance positively influences the business climate.
  • Policies regarding air infrastructure.
  • The discovery of gas reserves.
  • Government incentives such as fiscal measures.
  • Luxury hotel establishment projects.
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