Tourism development in Senegal

Historical overview and new directions for community-based tourism

Authored by: Aby Sene-Harper

Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138496088
eBook ISBN: 9781351022545
Adobe ISBN:


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Tourism has been a major contributor to Senegal’s economy placing the sector at the heart of the country’s national and economic development plans since the 1970s. Over the last four decades, major development policies have expanded tourism in the country but disproportionately favoring the coastal region over other areas. The littoral region of Senegal constitutes over 75% of tourist arrivals. The rapid expansion of tourism has resulted in major environmental degradation and social ills causing a decline in the sector in the last decade. Furthermore, local communities have mostly been marginalized from the development process and yet incurred the social costs, including land speculation and loss of traditional livelihoods. As the government seeks to rejuvenate the tourism sector and diversify product offerings, community-based tourism (CBT) around national parks presents a unique opportunity to reduce the negative impacts of tourism while promoting sustainable development at the local level. However, the lack of communal landownership and concession rights reduce the channels through which communities can benefit from CBT projects and places them at a disadvantage over private and state entities. This chapter presents an evolution of tourism development in Senegal, including a review of major policies, trends and historical context in each period. It also includes a presentation on the development of CBT in the integrated rural tourism program of the Lower Casamance as a counter model of development and a discussion on the critical issues of CBT around national parks as part of Senegal’s new tourism identity.

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