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Date [ 2013-06-06, 10:55 ]

 

Go on holiday and at the same time alleviate the local economy.

Kribi town today.
 

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = For many developing countries today, tourism receipts are the main stay of their economy. With little natural resources or the lack of foreign investments, tourism is one way a poor country can survive and even progress.

 

But now the buzz word is not just tourism but ECOTOURISM. Pursuing such a path is the African state of Cameroon. Here with help from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the focus is on Kribi,

The Involved Agencies

The project was begun two years ago with UNWTO supporting the Cameroon Ministry of Tourism and Leisure (MINTOUL ) to execute a Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) project aimed at developing ecotourism products in the area of Kribi, in the south of the country. The ST-EP project in Cameroon is implemented with financial contributions from the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation and from a regional project on sustainable tourism in coastal areas in Africa called Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST).

The COAST project itself  is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and covers nine countries in East and West Africa; it is implemented byThe United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (

UNIDO)  as lead agency and UNWTO as associated agency, responsible for the sustainable tourism and eco-tourism components of the project. Thus this project is multi-layered with various agencies.

 

The ST-EP project in Kribi aims to enhance quality and local benefits from tourism activities through capacity building, sustainable planning of coastal tourist sites, and promotion of Small Medium Enterprises (SME) in the tourism supply chains. After an initial planning process, activities in the field started last year and will be finalized during 2013.

 

The Projects

 

Kribi is a beach resort and sea port in Cameroon, lying on the Gulf of Guinea Coast, 170 km south of Cameroon’s largest city Douala.  The Kribi area is particularly popular among domestic tourists from Douala and Yaounde, the two main cities of the country. Several interesting eco-tourism excursions can be made in the surrounding area of Kribi town, such as to the Campo Ma’an National Park, the Lobé waterfalls, the beach of Grand Batanga and pygmies’ settlements.

 

What has to be noted is most tourism sites lack the necessary facilities and services. To combat these shortcomings, presently, large infrastructural and economic developments are taking place along the Kribi coastline, with the realization that there is a growing need for planning and undertaking protective measures in the coastal zones of the area. It would not do to destroy the very environment that tourists come to see.

MINTOUL has selected three ST-EP project locations as eco-tourism sites in the Kribi coastline. These are particularly exposed to environmental threats such as inappropriate waste management, coastal erosion, deforestation, and uncontrolled urban development,  

 

Lobe Waterfalls falling direct into the sea.
The sites are “The Lobe Falls Cultural Landscape” – where the visit to one of the rare examples of a waterfall that falls directly in the sea can be combined with canoe tours in the river and visits to Bagyeli pygmy communities –; the “Grand Batanga” – a historic site of the former capital of the Batanga people and its attractive beach. Visitors can enjoy dining on grilled fish and other seafood, or take up fishing and pirogue tours; finally, “The fishermen’s village of Londji – whose main attraction is its white sandy beaches, a lively weekly fish market, walks in the mangrove forest and boat trips to pristine natural spaces and wetlands.

 

These sites and activities were chosen based on the results of a Value Chain Analysis (VCA) that was carried out from February to July 2011. It identified opportunities that would generate additional income from tourism for the locals. An assessment was also made on how much training the villagers would need to carry out the VCA findings successfully.

 

The project has assisted MINTOUL in the drafting of sustainable management plans for the eco-tourism sites, with active consultation of communities, private sectors and local stakeholders. These plans were validated at a local level workshop on September 21, 2012 and will now serve as guidelines for MINTOUL in the completion of the project, and in taking further measures to develop and protect the sites beyond 2013.

 

Planning Ahead

 

A Bagyeli pygmy community
The project aims to bring about the betterment of the ethnic minority. Bagyeli Pygmies. Their  villages in the Lobé valley have been a longtime object of curiosity for tourists. However, this vulnerable community has not seen their living conditions improved or a rise in their incomes. After consultation with the community, steps have been taken to see they receive a fairer share of tourism benefits. The pygmies are also more willing and eager to take a hand-on approach in tourism handling. The project has conducted several training activities to develop tourism circuits in their lands. A tie-up has also been instituted with the private sector for cultural tours that would result insustainable tourism exchanges between Bagyeli pygmies, travel agents, and tourists.

 

As part of marketing and promotional exercises, leaflets were produced on some eco-tourism sites, support was given to the 5th edition of a Cultural and Eco-tourism Festival which took place in the Grand Batanga Eco-tourism Beach.

 

As an extension of the project, tourism training courses were conducted in the first quarter of this year. Locals who acted as untrained guides, and unemployed young women and men from Kribi were shown how to act more professionally with in-coming tourists. So far, the project has conducted training sessions on agro-tourism organized by the Agriculture School of Kribi and online marketing and environmental sustainability for hotels as part of the World Tourism Day in Kribi, organized by the Divisional Delegation of MINTOUL.

Better days are now coming for the locals at Kribi. abc@koreanpress.net

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