Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion

08.30.2011

Always Further - Promote a sustainable cultural tourism in sub-Saharan Africa

Tourism is nowadays one of the first global industries, and even if sub-Saharan Africa still represents a small part of all the international visitors (4.1%), it recently recorded a growth rate of its touristic flows, well above the global average (6% in West Africa, for 2.7% in the rest of the world; a rate similar to that of south America). In order to face the uncontrolled effects of mass-tourism, which tends to degrade the natural environment and transform the local population into simple attractions of entertainment, and have been enhanced by the globalization context, cultural tourism seems to bring satisfactory solutions as well for the visitor as the hosting populations. Indeed, tourists from all over the world now trend to search some authentic experiences, “off the beaten paths”, and with real interactions with the people. In the same time, this demand is an opportunity to answer the need of promotion and economic stimulation of the local population’s cultural identities, which global disinterestedness and disinformation can directly threaten to disappear.

Thus, emphasizing on the human aspects and on the mutual discoveries, the UNESCO program for Culture, tourism, and development proposes to “struggle against regional disparities, to stimulate the sustainable and fair development by a well balanced recovery of communities” patrimonies. However, to meet the criteria for compliance, efficiency and equity for local people but also of ethics, education and solidarity, the program says that tourism has to adapt to its host cultures. Yet the demands of the tourism industries are still too little to these criteria. They may indeed lead to the marginalization of heritage deeply structuring societies from which they come.

To go further

UNESCO, Programme « Culture, tourisme et développement », Axes stratégiques et propositions de projets, septembre 2004.

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 A contribution of ESC Dijon / Jérémie Cauët