Senegal’s Goree island – a former slave-trading port city turned tourist attraction, opened on Saturday following a seven-month lockdown to protect the roughly 2,000 inhabitants in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A visitor, Aristide Marius Plonkin, is taken aback by the bareness of the usually crowded island, “It’s a bit crazy to come and look at this place after such a pandemic. It’s beautiful anyway. In any case, I appreciate it even though the atmosphere is not the same as when I came here nine months ago.”
A Gorée resident, Philippe Azoumet, shares his feelings on the island reopening, “Seeing tourists again brings the island back to life because Gorée has always had a lot of people. It’s a touristic place so when there are no tourists you feel like a small isolated village. The fact that people come back comforts us. Maybe it can restart economic activities such as restaurants and many other things.”
All visitors, staff and locals will be required to wear face masks and respect several other coronavirus prevention guidelines while on the island.
Oumar Sy, a business owner, shares his economic woes in light of the months-long lockdown, “The fact that the island as a whole remained closed for 7 months, that I stayed 7 months without working, in addition to paying my staff for 7 months… It’s a dark time for an investor.”
Amina Ndoye, another Gorée resident, laments about the economic hardships while still grateful for coming out on the other side, “We suffered a lot. There was no work. And this is a tourist spot for people who come here. We didn’t work any more. My mother is a tour operator. She sells necklaces. But thank God Gorée’s town hall helped the young people and artists who are here. She gave them money.”
Although now a cultural experience, between the 15th and 19th century, Goree island – which lies offshore from Senegal’s capital city Dakar, was the largest slave-trade centre on the African coast.
Beautiful Goree island, in Senegal.❤️ pic.twitter.com/eSjKVwMGrh
— Lerino (@Lerino4) July 6, 2020