SADC trans-boundary communities should benefit from cultural tourism

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SADC trans-boundary communities should benefit from cultural tourism

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 20, 2018

    Sharon Kavhu

    Masvingo – Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) has potential to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the rural economy on an annual basis if cultural tourism, among other strategies, is fully implemented, director of the Centre for Cultural Development Initiatives -Gaza Trust, Hebert Phikela, has said.  

    In an interview on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority consultative meeting held in Masvingo last week, Phikela said the GLTFCA, which consists of Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique has potential to generate revenue through consumptive and non-consumptive tourism.

    “Since the area has wildlife and cultural integration of the three countries ‑ Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa ‑ the environment alone can be an exhibit of both domestic and global tourism,” said Phikela.

    “The launch of the Great Limpopo Cultural Trade Fair (GLCTF) in 2013 created a strategic platform for the Limpopo communities to generate income out of the vast business opportunities brought by the Transboundary Protected Areas. The set-up can attract a lot of investors, tourists and tourism activities that benefit the communities involved if there are coordinated marketing strategies and an infrastructure development plan.”

    He said the development of rural areas to boost cultural tourism was one of the core objectives behind the creation of the transfrontier conservation areas.

    Phikela said boundaries dividing wildlife into the communities of the three countries where the animals could not move around freely and breed have since 2013 been done away with through the GLCTF initiative.

    Despite the positive steps taken in removing the inhibiting boundaries, Phikela said the GLCTF which attracts regional and global tourists is being suffocated by poor infrastructure and marketing.

    “We need financial support from governments, tourism shareholders and stakeholders to equip ourselves so as to run viable community-based tourism enterprises.

    “Once this has been achieved, there is a need for capacity building of the rural communities to run a standard home hospitality business whereby tourists can comfortably stay in homes owned by members of these communities and experience the transboundary rural hospitality.

    “The concept of home hospitality gives direct benefits to the community while positively contributing towards the growth of tourism in the rural areas.”

    He said the transfrontier conservation areas can attract tourists through art and cultural festivals and peer-to-peer learning             forums.

    In November 2017, Phikela’s organisation hosted the Transboundary Intercommunity Exchange Forum and communities from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana participated and shared notes on community-based natural resources management.

    The forum also saw the three countries sharing the challenges that arise as a result of human-wildlife conflict and how to resolve them. It was supported by the German Development Cooperation of Zimbabwe.

    Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is preparing a tourism strategy to restore and improve tourism in the country.

    The organisation has embarked on tourism consultative meetings nationally to gather different ideas on how to improve the tourism sector from different stakeholders and shareholders.

    ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, said all ideas generated during consultative meetings would be included in the national tourism strategy meant to restore and improve the sector.

    “We are here to engage various stakeholders and shareholders in the tourism sector as a foundation of the tourism strategy that we are still working on,” said Kaseke.

    “All these ideas are important and we need to incorporate them into the growth of the sector.”

    He said there was a need to identify what the country lost in the tourism sector so that an effective plan for restoration is made and implemented.

    So far, the ZTA has held consultative meetings in Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Masvingo and Mutare.

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