The more we learnt about Senegal, the more confident we are in our prediction that it will see a dramatic increase in UK visitor numbers within the next three years. That's due to the fact that this less-visited West African gem has a wealth of tourism attractions to offer.
Located on the most westerly point of mainland Africa, Senegal has somehow been overlooked by most UK travellers. With a 6-ish hour flight time and such reliably warm weather, you might have expected it to flourish as a fly-and-flop beach destination for winter sunseekers, inline with the country it geographically surrounds, The Gambia.
Of course, The Gambia has one possible advantage for UK travellers over its larger neighbour...whilst Senegal is francophone, The Gambia is anglophone, allowing us 'lazy' Brits to feel more at home, by speaking our own language. But one could argue that with the locals speaking French, it gives the destination something of an air of sophistication (ignoring the fact that many Senegalese are fairly fluent in English as well now, anyway!)
For those wanting to add a little of the exotic to a beach holiday, Senegal’s colours, sounds, tastes, culture, scenery and general environment create a rich and vibrant tapestry, with so much appeal for the modern traveller.
Escaping the stunning sandy coastline, more adventurous travellers will encounter a wealth of experiences.
A great example would be the fluorescent Lake Retba, a mile long body of water glowing with a strange tint of pink.
Further north is the sacred Muslim town of Touba, providing a dazzling opportunity to see the rich culture of Islam in the region. An undoubted highlight is the Grand Mosque (or Magal), whose striking architecture dominates the Touba skyline.
The Ferlo desert is home to the Fulani people, who live across the West African savannah. Hugely photogenic and charismatic, this semi-nomadic tribe has a unique culture based around their livestock. Their festivals and celebrations are truly eye-catching.
And like all of West Africa, the rhythm of life closely follows the beat of music, even in everyday life. You’re never far from authentic local musicians, which encourages plenty of song and dance.
Or what about the wildlife in Bandia Game Reserve? In recent years there have been successful reintroductions of numerous native species. In the reserve you’re now able to see (and hear) buffalo, antelope, monkeys, white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, crocodiles and even chimpanzees. It is also a great location for bird enthusiasts.
Of historical interest, Sine Ngayene has over a thousand carved stones arranged into fifty two circles, dating back to between 700 and 1350 AD, now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Sadly, many of these fabulous attractions are relatively unknown to most British travellers. A past reliance on sun seekers has meant these messages have not reached the attention of those willing to go beyond the beach. But we feel sure that once they are made aware, they will flock in their thousands. Access has also been made all the easier with increased flights by the likes of Tui, whilst the development of more upmarket properties is only adding to the appeal. We christened the country, "Sensational Senegal" ....are many more about to agree?
If you'd like to discuss this further, please do contact Tim Henshall, via email@example.com
Kamageo is a UK-based tourism marketing agency, dedicated to Africa. With 20 years experience, we are experts at assessing tourism offerings and consumer segmentation, as well as implementing highly effective marketing communications. Kamageo has already helped significantly increase visitor numbers to a dozen African destinations.