Central African Republic has continued to be a poor and unstable country since its independence from France in 1960. A national unity government was established in 2009 from two rebel leaders, but pockets of rebel activity continue across the country, with insurgents from neighbouring Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army, operating in Central African Republic, as well as conflicts in Sudan, Chad and Congo, Democratic Republic overspilling their borders. Furthermore, the country has recently been thrown into chaos since the Seleka rebels seized power from President Francois Bozize in April 2013, causing a humanitarian crisis in the country. The nation is extremely undeveloped and the majority of the population live in poverty
The security situation, combined with a lack of funding, has hampered travel and tourism development within the country. Despite possessing natural attractions, the number of inbound visitors remains extremely low, comprising largely business visitors, many of whom are aid and conservation workers. Many countries, including the US, UK and Canada, have warnings against all travel to the country. As a result, travel and tourism is facing an uphill struggle in the country to attract visitors, combined with inadequate facilities on the ground.
In terms of mode of transportation, the roads remain a dangerous environment for tourists and they prefer to limit their visit only to the key cities of the country. Only about 20% of the country’s total routes are paved, including roads between Bangui and Bossembele, Bangui and Sibut and between Bangui and M’Baiiki. Air transportation so far is the key travel mode for tourists arriving and leaving the country.
The country has four national parks with fantastic natural attractions, and it is hoped that they can be the key to successful sustainable tourism for the country. Features include waterfalls near the capital city Bangui, primate safaris for gorilla-watching, elephants, rhinoceros and buffaloes, as well as pristine rainforests in untouched settings. Ecotourism has become the tourism focus for many countries in this region, and Central African Republic risks missing out on development and income opportunities while the instability continues. However, the country is working closely with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to develop its ecotourism offerings.
As some international countries are highly alarmed about the situation in Central African Republic, experts can look only at foreign investments coming after international intervention to calm down the political situation and to establish a trusted climate for business. One such channel is CEMAC (Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). The intervention was launched in April 2013 to provide peace to the country, but it was not successful. France remains one of the key mediators for the economic and political partners within the country and outside its borders.
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