The power of tourism in any sequence cannot be underestimated, with the sector’s capability to contribute to economic growth and mitigate poverty especially in Africa, being recognized. Under the theme “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”, the World Economic Forum on Africa 2016, which took place between 11th -13th May in Kigali Rwanda, explored ideas towards combating global challenges, whose long term goal, in my opinion, remains to further revolutionize the continent. As Africa and the whole world anticipate the outcomes of the forum, we would all be forgiven to expect that measures and policies on mitigating poverty in the developing countries, most of which – by default – happen to be African countries, will be discussed and implemented. Yet, this is all a matter of wait-and-see.
While various stakeholders seem to focus on other factors such as technology and international trade as the way to go, which I don’t refute, it is important to remember that the tourism sector also holds immense potential towards alleviating poverty that is yet to be fully tapped. Think about this; while some remote places remain segregated with poor infrastructure, poorly built schools and health centers, these regions, are home to some of the unrivalled African cultures and tourist destinations.
Perhaps, if the respective governments would pay more attention to these rather left out attractions such as Turkana and Samburu in Kenya, Cape mac Clear in Malawi and Nyanyadzi hot springs in Zimbabwe among others; by first educating and sensitizing locals on the opportunities they hold, then there probably will be a difference. Establishing learning institutions that will provide technical training and financial support to tourism destinations in preparedness for skills as relates to tourism, will go a long way in putting food on the tables of a vast majority of the world’s hungry people; who according to WFP Hunger Statistics, live in developing countries, where 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished.
There is evident need for tourism stakeholders to increase efforts towards solving the poverty puzzle in developing nations. And as long as the human species has not quelled the need to explore new destinations, he will more often find ways and places to satisfy this unending urge. Then, what better way to tap into this opportunity but by investing in the tourism sector in developing countries? You are assured of virgin prospects while at the same time creating job opportunities for the locals. In return, this will stimulate local businesses and further translate into the development of the national economies.