Burkina tourist hub loses Western visitors to jihadist threat

A craftsman poses for a portrait between batik print textiles in a street in Bobo Dioulasso, on September 18, 2019. Warnings are handed out by Western chancelleries to travellers wanting to visit south-western Burkina and the economic capital, Bobo Dioulasso, formerly a popular tourist base. PHOTO | ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The "red zone" refers to the risk of jihadist attacks -- a top-end warning by Western embassies to travellers wanting to visit southwest Burkina and the economic capital, Bobo-Dioulasso, once a popular tourist destination.
  • The north and the east of the landlocked country in West Africa endure frequent Islamist attacks, which have claimed some 600 lives in the past four years.
  • In December 2018, an Italian man and his Canadian companion were kidnapped on the road from Bobo to the capital Ouagadougou.
  • Renowned for its traditional masks, its batik print textiles and the balafon, Bobo attracted thousands of Western tourists.

Bobo-Dioulasso
"They've placed us in the red zone, which means the tourists aren't coming like before. Even the aid workers don't come," said Antoine Atiou, governor of Burkina Faso's Hauts-Bassins region.
The "red zone" refers to the risk of jihadist attacks -- a top-end warning by Western embassies to travellers wanting to visit southwest Burkina and the economic capital, Bobo-Dioulasso, once a popular tourist destination.
The impact has been brutal for local businesses. The city's hotels have emptied, its heritage sites are quiet and the souvenir shops shuttered.
"It's hard, hard, hard!... We haven't seen a tourist for a fortnight," said Sanou Moumouni, a guide at the city's mosque and in the historic Kibidwe district for 22 years.
In the past he could sometimes earn 100,000 CFA francs (Sh17,604) in two days, he said, but he has not made 5,000 francs (Sh880) in the last three months.
"I'm living on loans," he said. "We no longer have work because of the murderers. We're sick of it."
The north and the east of the landlocked country in West Africa endure frequent Islamist attacks, which have claimed some 600 lives in the past four years. There have also been some raids in the west.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.