Tourism becomes a tool to tackle poverty, by Paul Miles

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The traditional east coast destinations of Kenya and Tanzania are “booming”, according to Nigel Vere Nicoll, chief executive of the African Travel and Tourism Association, the trade association for tour operators featuring Africa. “There aren’t enough beds and everywhere is fully booked.”

“New” destinations such as Ethiopia and Gabon are “coming into the frame”, he says. In 2002, Gabon’s President Bongo announced the formation of 13 national parks which, with an area of 3m hectares, cover 11 per cent of the country. Funding from WWF and Conservation International, as well as the European Union (no doubt a small percentage of the money that the Queen receives in subsidies) is helping employ and train park wardens and guides.

But does tourism really do much to alleviate poverty? Vere Nicoll is adamant much of the infrastructure in east Africa is thanks to tourism. “Without tourism, Africa would be in a very sorry state,” he claims.

Countries previously not on tourists’ radar have proved to be surprising successes. Rwanda, with its tragic history, is the fastest-growing destination for

African specialist Aardvark Safaris. The country’s first five-star hotel has just been built. “Tourism is the third most important income earner after tea and coffee but the government expects it will soon be second or even first,” says Vere Nicoll.
Story found here.

Source: Financial Times