Sustainable tourism limping on limited support

27 Feb 2015 07:20am
WINDHOEK, 27 FEB (NAMPA) – There is a need for greater networking and cooperation between tourism stakeholders at national and regional levels, a study has concluded.
The study's findings were revealed during the just-ended fifth international symposium and annual conference of partners of the global partnership for sustainable tourism held here.
The findings are revealed in a publication entitled ‘Advancing Sustainable Tourism – A Regional Sustainable Tourism Situation Analysis for Southern Africa’, which was made available during the symposium.
The symposium kicked off here on Sunday and ended on Wednesday under the theme ‘Advancing sustainable tourism: securing the legacy of our cultural and natural heritage’.
Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and leaving a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.
According to the publication, sustainable tourism priorities includes effective national tourism development strategies and cross-sectoral policies; improved regional co-operation; an investment-friendly enabling environment and capacity development.
Increasing awareness and understanding of conservation of natural resources among local communities, government officials, tourism operators and tourists also forms part of sustainable tourism.
Other priorities include integrating sustainability criteria into finance options, land leases and concession agreements, having destination plans integrating sustainable tourism, and awareness raising among travellers and the tourism industry.
“As yet there is no evidence that tourists are demanding sustainable tourism, so the market is not yet a motivator for the majority of operators. Incentives and technical support should be provided for sustainable tourism developments, and once operational they should have preferential market access to those that are not sustainable,' the study which forms part of the publication stressed.
Principal challenges and barriers to mainstreaming sustainable tourism include a lack of understanding of sustainable tourism by the public and private sectors, and insufficient incentives to operate sustainably, according to the study.
Other barriers include policy barriers; finance constraints; a lack of tools; negative impacts of tourism and poor stakeholder relationships as well as host communities.
Major investments have been made in conservation and economic development projects in southern Africa, where a component includes support to tourism, according to the study.
Two main regional bodies working on sustainable tourism in Southern Africa have strategic importance for implementing sustainable tourism initiatives on a regional scale are the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA).