A government tourist organization was created in April 1974 to develop hunting, fishing, and sightseeing in Mali, particularly in the areas around Mopti, Tombouctou, and Gao. There are modern motels in Bamako and in Tombouctou, the ancient capital of Muslim learning and culture, previously forbidden to foreigners. Also of interest to the tourist are Mali's national park and game reserves. Football (soccer) is a popular sport.
A visa must be obtained for entry into Mali. A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is also needed, and cholera immunization is recommended. In 2000 there were a 84,469 tourist arrivals in Mali. That year there were 2,748 hotel rooms with 3,076 beds. Tourism receipts came to about $71 million. The estimated daily cost of staying in Bamako is $120, according to 2002 US Department of State estimates.