29 January 2014
Last updated at 21:16 ET
Tourists once flocked to the West African nation of Mali, attracted by its unique heritage and dramatic landscapes. The industry provided employment for thousands of people. (Photos and text by Tommy Trenchard)
But after a string of kidnappings, a coup and an armed rebellion in the north that triggered French military intervention in January 2013, the industry has all but collapsed. The town of Djenne, a Unesco world heritage site and home to the world's largest mud-built mosque, used to be a must-see attraction for visitors.
Now, its hotels, restaurants and craft markets are deserted. Locals say as many as 600 tourists would visit every day in peak season before the crisis. When I visited in late December, just two tourists had been to see the mosque that day.
Baba Maiga introduces himself as a restaurateur. But his now-roofless restaurant has been in effect closed down since the tourists stopped coming. "The town itself lived on tourism," he says. "Now life is hard for people here."
During what should be peak season, Mr Maiga's adjacent hotel has not seen a visitor in three days. "Please tell them we have no rebels here," said one frustrated former tour guide.
The villages around Bandiagara, home to the Dogon people, have been hit particularly hard. Their unique culture and stunning, cliff-side setting were once magnets for visitors - including former French President Jacques Chirac - who formed the bedrock of the local economy.
Local artisan Amadou Guindo says times are tough for the Dogon. He now relies largely on farming, although successive seasons of poor rainfall have made it hard to make a living from the land.
Amagali Guindo, who has spent 12 years making traditional dyed fabrics in a Dogon village, now has to travel to regional towns and sometimes even the capital, Bamako, to sell his cloth, eating away at his profit.
Tourism here used to support all sectors of society. Visitors used to buy Jeneba Luke's cakes to distribute to local children. With less money coming into the community, the local market is also drying up.
With continued insecurity in the north, the UK government still advises against all travel to most areas, including Djenne, the Dogon villages of the central plateau and the historic desert city of Timbuktu, and against "all but essential" travel to the rest of the country.