(Business in Cameroon) - After the Boko Haram episodes that brought fear in the Far North and caused tourism activities to be suspended in the region, Governor Midjiyawa Bakari is seeking a return to normalcy.
In his visit to Brussels recently, Midjiyawa Bakari and his colleague of the North, Jean Edi'i Abate, met with authorities of the European External Action Service, the diplomatic arm of the European Union (EU). After talks about the restoration of Lake Chad, whose drying up has significantly affected agropastoral and fishing activities, the Far North governor requested the EU to remove the region from its blacklist.
"Tourism is a major source of foreign currency for our region. (...) We have asked them to remove the Far North from their blacklist to make tourists sure the region is now safe,” said Midjiyawa Bakari. Let’s recall that the Far-North region ended up on the EU’s blacklist after the Moulin Fournier family was kidnapped by Boko Haram members while returning from the Waza National Park in 2013.
According to data from the Far-North regional delegation of Tourism and Leisure, in 2015, for example, the "occupancy rate of some hotels dropped from 90% to 30%", leading to the suspension of activities of these hotels, due to lack of tourists.
Attractive tourist sites
Midjiyawa Bakari reassured that the Boko Haram period is now over in the region, thanks to the work done on the ground by the Cameroonian security forces. "Today, you can go from Garoua (North) to Kousseri (Far North) and back, without an escort," he said.
Some European tourists have started returning but in very small numbers. This means that despite the promotional actions of public authorities, the tourist sites of the Far North, including the famous Waza Park and its diverse fauna, or the Rhumsiki Mountains, continue to be less busy.
The scarcity of tourists in the Far North region, which is home to some of the most attractive tourist sites in Cameroon, is such that according to projections by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism will only weigh a little more than 3% of Cameroon's GDP in 2028; less than the 4% recorded in 2013, the year of decline for tourism in the region.
Brice R. Mbodiam