The political crisis in the West African state of Mali, following a military coup and the seizure of large swathes of the north by rebels and jihadists, hit the tourist industry very hard in 2012, according to Mali’s tourism ministry.
The Malian Tourism and Hotel Business Office said on Saturday that tourist arrivals by air dropped by 22% to 101,335 in 2012 from 129,975 in 2011.
Mali has four international airports – Bamako-Sénou, Kayes, Mopti and Gao – with the main entry point being Bamako-Sénou. Charter flights serve Kayes, Mopti and Gao airports.
Among the visitors entering Mali through the Bamako-Sénou airport every year are Europeans (44.42%), followed by Africans (42.18%) and Americans and Asians (5.95%).
Senegalese top Africans arriving in Mali with 8.3% in 2012 as against 9.6% in 2011; Côte d’Ivoire with 5.39 in 2012 as against 5.80% in 20011; Burkina-Faso 3.30% in 2012 as against 3.7% in 2011; and South Africa with 1.56% in 2012 as against 1.80% in 2011.
Malian soldiers ousted the civilian government in March 2012 leading to Tuareg rebels taking over huge portions of the north.
Jihadists also capitalised on the instability and wreaked havoc on the country.
France in January 2013 deployed troops, which were joined by West African forces, that defeated the rebels and jihadists.