Tourism / Transport
Tourism in Senegal is a vital part of this West African nation's economy.
From a relatively small industry at the introduction of the first Club Med resort in the 1970s, Tourism has grown to be an important part of the Senegales economy. Since the 1990s, Senegal has made an effort to reach beyond visitors from the former colonial power France, in part motivated by the example of neighbouring Gambia which draws a relatively larger tourist share from Northern Europe and the Americas to its Banjul coastal resorts.
In 2008, Senegal's foreign tourist visitors had reached one million, attracted to luxury beach resorts, natural and historic sites. The return rate for visitors stood at around 30% in 2008.
Future projections and bookings announced in 2009 raised fears that the global economic downturn would deal a blow to 2009 and 2010 tourist visits, with a booking rate down from 30% the year before to 5%.
U.S. tourists - often African-Americans - are increasing in numbers, drawn in particular by the historic slave trading post of Goree Island.
Principal cities of interest include the capital, Dakar; Saint-Louis, an old colonial town; and the Mouride holy centre of Touba. Gorée Island, formerly a centre of the West African slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, draws many visitors.
Most tourists from outside Africa are Europeans, especially French, and a hotel and resort industry centered on enclosed beach resorts, most at resort towns like Saly on the Petite Côte south of Dakar, have been created to appeal to this clientele since the 1970s.
Resort vacations are often supplemented by wildlife and nature tours of areas like the Sine-Saloum Delta, the Grande Côte (north of Dakar), the Lac Rose, and Senegal River delta in the north (near Saint-Louis). Historic sites around Dakar, Gorée Island, Museums, and monuments draw visitors. To the north, the colonial island town of Saint-Louis is visited for its long history and colonial architecture. There are also safari trips offered to see wildlife, perhaps limited by east or South African standards.
Senegal has a small but developing National Park and Reserve System. Notable among these are the Langue de Barbarie National Park and Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary which provide wildlife habitat in the dunes and mangrove swamps surrounding the mouth of the Senegal River near picturesque city of Saint-Louis.
The Niokolo-Koba National Park is a World Heritage Site and natural protected area in south eastern Senegal near the Guinea-Bissau border which protects a large variety of wild animals, including hippopotamuses, elephants, and lions. Largely undeveloped, the area is remote and lacks tourist infrastructure, but is a destination for specialty tours.
The Basse Casamance National Park, in the far southwest, includes both ecotourism and tropical forest excursions, and a popular coastal beach resort aimed at foreign tourism. The Casamance conflict has hindered tourist development in this area.
The Saloum Delta National Park is a large area of mangrove estuaries and islands, visited by tourists for it wildlife, its cultural interest as the home of the minority Serer people, and its proximity to the tourist resorts of the Petite-Côte. Smaller parks and reserves, like the Guembeul Natural Reserve in the center west or the Bandia Natural Reserve near Dakar exit primarily for the more conventional European tourist industry, resembling Wildlife Parks or zoos.
Senegal has a middle class prosperous enough to support local tourism, as well a large population of Senegalese living abroad. Apart from visits to family and friends, the city of Dakar supports a local industry of holiday spots frequented by city dwellers. The beaches and islands to the north of the city, at places like Yoff and Ngor, are particularly popular for Senegalese tourists. Senegalese, other African visitors, and expatriates often travel to religious sites and festivals, especially those connected with powerful Sufi Muslim brotherhoods of Senegal.
The main entrance point is Dakar-Yoff International Airport. Senegal’s capital city of Dakar, on the westernmost point of the continent, is strategically located.
European flights into Dakar are populated by a mix of Senegalese living abroad, African travelers making connections, western European tourists, and a recent surge in Asian workers traveling to work on Chinese government funded construction projects.
United States based Delta Air Lines opened in December 2006 an Atlanta/Dakar/Johannesburg/Dakar/Atlanta route. The Open Skies Agreement between the U.S. and Senegal signed in January 2001 laid the foundation for direct routes between the U.S. and Senegal by U.S. carriers.
British based travel companies, long organising trips to neighbouring anglophone Gambia, have begun entering a package travel market to Senegal which was until recently dominated by French and Belgian companies.
There were an estimated 4,271 km of paved roads and 10,305 km of unpaved roads as of 1996.
Taxis (black-yellow or blue-yellow in color) are cheap, numerous and available everywhere in Dakar. It is customary to negotiate the fare since most meters installed in the taxis are broken or missing. For travel outside Dakar, public transportation is available but often unreliable and uncomfortable.
897 km total; 785 km on the Senegal river, and 112 km on the Saloum River.
- Dakar - railhead
- Kaolack, Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Saint-Louis, Ziguinchor
Dakar has one of the largest deep-water seaports along the West African coast. Its deep-draft structure and 640-foot-wide (200 m) access channel allows round-the-clock access to the port. Its current infrastructure includes tanker vessel loading and unloading terminals, a container terminal with a storage capacity of 3000 20-foot-equivalent units, a cereals and fishing port, a dedicated phosphate terminal and a privately run ship repair facility. The port’s location at the extreme western point of Africa, at the crossroad of the major sea-lanes linking Europe to South America, makes it a natural port of call for shipping companies.Total freight traffic averages 10 million metric tons.
There were an estimated 20 airports in 1999. The Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport at Dakar is the hub of the sub-region.Dakar is linked to numerous African cities by air, and daily flights go to Europe. Delta Air Lines flies daily to/from Atlanta/Dakar/Johannesburg. South African Airways flies daily to New York and Washington, D.C. from Johannesburg via Dakar.
A new international airport which carries the name of Blaise Diagne is under construction at Diass.
Airports - with paved runways
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (1999 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (1999 est.)
How to obtain a visa ?
* E-Visa online procedure : Senegal has established since 2013 the obligation to obtain a biometric visa for travelers of nationalities who were hitherto exempted. The visa procedure is quite complicated and happens in two stages. At first, the payment of the visa (50€) and of the cost of delivery shall be made on the dedicated website (www.visasenegal.sn). A number of information must be provided at this time online. Once this step is complete, a visit to a diplomatic representation equipped to issue biometric visas is required. You will undergo a strict control of all documents, as well as a taking of a digital photo and a fingerprinting of all fingers. A special procedure for taking fingerprints of 10 toes is provided for disabled passengers no longer having fingers in particular for our bi-national leper compatriots residing abroad but having no more Senegalese documents.
Depending on consulates and peak periods, formalities can be long. So you will need a full day to get your visa. Accordingly, it is recommended that travelers look in detail what papers and documents are required for the visa, especially if you live hundreds miles far from a Senegalese diplomatic representation. As an exception, any passenger subject to the visa in Senegal, who for various reasons is not able to pre-enroll or to join an embassy or consulate or to access the visa website (www. visasenegal.sn) can board with the pre-visa and be granted a BIOMETRIC VISA at our international airports (Dakar Leopold Sedar Senghor, Cap Skirring) where they will undergo the procedure (fingerprinting of 10 fingers or toes, document checking, digital photos, etc.). Standard procedure in embassies: if you are not eligible for the e-Visa or if the type of visa you wish can not be obtained through the e-Visa procedure, you can go to the nearest Senegalese embassy with the required documents they asked you to bring.
Visa-exempt foreign nationals : All European Union citizens, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Zambia, Zimbabwe.