Spotlight on Mr. Salif Badiane, Africa Connection Tours Senegal

8 Jun


During the Congress, I had the chance to sit down with Mr. Salif Badiane, Director General of Africa Connection Tours Senegal and ATA Senegal Chapter President. Based in Dakar, Africa Connection Tours has been in business for over 14 years. With a staff of 18 full-time employees, they serve clients in many languages, like English, Italian, German, Spanish, and French to name a few.

AP: Can you explain why it was important for Senegal to host ATA’s Annual Congress this year?

SB: First, 52% of tourism in Senegal depends on the French market, which makes the country too dependent on one market. This is not good for the future or sustainable development of tourism in the country. Hosting ATA’s Congress will help to diversify and open up to other markets, especially the U.S. and Canada. The Congress will give Senegal visibility in these markets and exposure in the media. ATA is also present in international tourism trade shows like the ITB in Berlin and the World Travel Market in London.

AP: What do you think visitors will take away from their experience in Senegal?

SB: The friendship and the kindness of the Senegalese people. People are very tolerant in the country, especially with our religious diversity. 85% of the people are Muslim, 10% are Roman Catholic, and 5% are animists. People of different religions live in the same families and in harmony in the country. There is stability and peace in Senegal. Second, Senegal has a lot to offer culturally. We have 17 ethnic groups in the country, each with their own history, culture, and handicrafts. Senegal is a melting pot of cultures for visitors to see.

AP: Can you tell us a bit about one of the cultures visitors will experience in Senegal?

SB: Casamance is in Southern Senegal and is home to the Jola people. There, visitors will experience untouched African values. The Jola people are animists, which means they believe divinity is present in all forms of nature like trees, flowers, plants, and animals. Because of this, they have a great respect for nature and have practiced eco-tourism before anyone else; this respect for nature is anchored in the people.

AP: One of the topics we discussed at the Congress was culinary tourism in Africa. Many people are familiar with the popular Senegalese dish thiéboudienne, can you tell us about another dish visitors should try while in Senegal?

SB: Yassa. Yassa is a popular dish that comes from Casamance region. It can either be grilled fish or chicken and is marinated in green lemon juice and spices.

In Senegal we also have about 20 fruits that can be made into juice, many of these are rich fruits. There is baobab juice, bissap, and madd juice, which comes from a fruit native to southern Senegal.

AP: What is on the horizon for Africa Connection Tours?

SB: We will soon be opening an office in Guinea Bissau. We will also be developing cruise tourism. Dakar is the gateway to Africa and a famous port known around the world. Dakar can be an important stop for all cruise lines in the next 20-25 years.

To learn more about of Africa Connection Tours Senegal, visit http://www.actours-senegal.com.

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