I’ve already blogged about the fact that there is no tourism industry in Burundi, despite its marketable assets. Today, via my friend Carol, I gained an insight into why that might be. She works in microfinance and will have some bosses from the US visiting next week, and was trying to find out if there were any excursions from Bujumbura that she didn’t already know about, so paid a visit to the tourism office, also a gift shop that sells postcards (woohoo), that is next to our favourite cafe.
She asked if they had any maps of the country that she could use; they offered to sell her one for 10,000F – with no looking allowed! Then she asked if they had any leaflets on attractions in the country. No. Then she saw a leaflet on drumming performances; she asked if she could have one. She could – but at a cost of 2,000F. Since she didn’t want the leaflet, just their phone number, she asked if they had any contacts or if she could just take the number from the leaflet. Again, no – not unless she bought it. They suggested she wait till the weekend and go to Saga Plage, where they perform on Sundays, and ask them for her number themselves.
All in all, it’s clear that whatever the Burundian Tourism Office is doing, it isn’t promoting Burundi, and that if you’re a visitor in Burundi, you better have sources for what you need to know, because there’s no helping you once you’re here!