TANZANIA (eTN) – Looking forward to identifying strategies and best practice in cultivating sustainable, peaceful, and welcoming communities through tourism, culture, and sports, tourism stakeholders will be meeting in South Africa next month to deliberate on the potential roles of tourism, culture, and sports.
Several African tourism experts and policymakers have been invited to the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Symposium in South Africa to share positive experiences from their respective countries and communities on the potential roles of tourism in poverty eradication, conflict resolution, and creation of sustainable development through tourism.
Burundi, a small African nation, rich with diversified cultures, stands as a modal example of countries in Africa looking to develop cultural tourism as a lifeline for community development and a catalyst for poverty eradication.
Lacking abundant wildlife resources as compared to other member states of the East African Community (EAC), Burundi is boastful of rich and diversified cultures, making it the leading cultural destination nation in Eastern and Central Africa.
The government of Burundi has been committed to developing the tourism sector known as a pillar of a socio economic growth and a key player in peace consolidation, according to National Tourism Office of Burundi.
A National Strategy for a Sustainable Development of Tourism resulting from a plan of activities has been in place for three years from 2013 to 2016 and is currently being implemented.
In collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the government of Burundi had committed to develop the Cultural Tourism Program, taking an advantage of the rich cultural diversity in the country.
The program had succeeded to provide local people in various rural areas the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods from developing and managing cultural tourism enterprises in their communities.
The Cultural Tourism Program is also aimed at giving a bright future for creating understanding and friendships between tourists and local people, offering tourists from across the world the possibility to experience Burundi’s rich and diversified cultural heritage, also creating harmony among local communities through benefit sharing from tourist gains.
The Cultural Tourism Program also allocates a part of the tourist income to community development purposes in the village through improvement and development of primary schools, health centers, a clean water supply, and other social services.
Tourists and tour operators in Burundi had also made voluntary contributions to these development projects, the National Tourism Office of Burundi says.
Burundi has been celebrating World Tourism Day held on September 27 of every year, aiming at strengthening tourism development as an engine for economic growth, highlighting the community dimension as one of the key pillars of sustainable development.
Last year (2014), World Tourism Day was dedicated to community development and was celebrated in Burundi through sensitization of people on the importance of the tourism sector in the country’s development.
With the complementary to the on-going ST-EP Project in Burundi, the UNWTO volunteer on the ground collaborated with the Burundi Ministry of Tourism and organized a two-day “Open Doors” event at the National Tourism Office in Bujumbura from September 26-27, 2014.
The two-day event gathered some 300 visitors who enjoyed traditional performances while mingling with more than 35 exhibition booths, representing local artisans, public tourism institutions, tourism training institutes, tour operators, and the other tourism enterprises.
The event also provided the opportunity for the formal presentation of training certificates to a group of waiters and receptionists who participated in the training carried out from June to August 2014 as part of the activities of the ST-EP project in Burundi.
The ST-EP project in Burundi also focuses on supporting tourism Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) to help generate additional local employment for women and youth in Bujumbura and at Lake Tanganyika resources.
Several workshops were held during World Tourism Day, aimed at sensitization of people on community and sustainable tourism development.
Attracting international experts in community development, community tourism, sports, culture, and peace, the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Symposium will be held from February 16 to 20 in Johannesburg to honor the legacies of former South African majority President Nelson Mandela, former Prime minister of India Mahatma Ghandi, and the former US Civil Rights champion, Martin Luther King, Jr.
The symposium is as well, aimed at building bridges of tourism, friendship, and peace between South Africa, India, the United States, and other regions of the world.