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From Warriors to Tour Guides

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In the wake of conflict, demobilizing combatants is as critical as ending the fighting if there is hope for the peace to last. When conflict ends, former fighters usually find themselves unemployed. But tourism is proving a viable way to deal with the social and political dangers of neglecting former fighters post-conflict.

Global tourism accounts for more than 10 per cent of global GDP and eight per cent of total employment worldwide. It grew by six per cent in 2007, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. The Asia-Pacific region grew by 10 per cent, and Africa by eight per cent.

Ironically, much conflict has taken place in areas of natural beauty that offer a strong pull to tourists. While perception judging from the media is that conflict is getting worse, in fact trends show the opposite: according to Global Conflict Trends, “The levels of both interstate and societal warfare declined dramatically through the 1990s and this trend continues in the early 2000s, falling over 60% from their peak levels.”

A lot is at stake and it proves it is worthwhile to make peace pay – and that it is possible.

Battle-hardened rebels like 28-year-old Marjuni Ibrahim lived in the jungle and fought as guerrillas in Aceh, Indonesia. On the northwestern tip of Indonesia, Aceh was devastated by both a 30-year war that killed 15,000 people and the 2004 tsunami. Marjuni lost his sister and parents in the tsunami, in which more than 170,000 died or are missing.

Much of the coastline was destroyed, but the shock of the catastrophe pushed both sides into peace talks. The separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) battled the Indonesian army (TNI) up to 2005, when they signed a peace agreement.

Marjuni is now cashing in on a guerilla’s best survival technique: being tough. He now takes adventure and extreme-hiking enthusiasts deep into the jungle, where they once fought and lived. It is a habitat of steep, rocky trails, enormous teak trees – all with the reward of pristine waterfalls and refreshing rock pools for the hardy travelers.

The tours target mainly the community of aid workers in the area helping to re-build Aceh, but the hope is to expand: “I want to make the Acehnese aware of the potential for community-based tourism, and put Aceh on the map as a friendly tourism destination”, said Mendal Pols, a Dutch tour operator and founder of Aceh Explorer on the island, to Reuters.

The jungle is home to endangered Sumatran tigers, deer and hornbills.

“The area is very beautiful. I like trekking and I was interested to see what life was like during the conflict,” said Hugo Lamer, a Dutch trekker. “It’s difficult to imagine but three or more years ago they were running around here with guns and fighting the TNI. When I went, they took us to a place where they had lost some of their friends. And then you realize that we are there for fun, but for them this was really serious.”

In Vietnam, the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, formerly used by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War, have become major tourist attractions. The vast network of underground tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City link up with a tunnel network stretching across the country, and were used as hiding spots and as supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon dumps and living quarters.

In Rwanda, the government turned to tourism to help heal the wounds of the massacre that led to the deaths of almost 1 million people in 1994. It markets its population of mountain gorillas, diverse landscape with volcanic ranges, hills, lakes and savannah. But it is also not covering up the past: genocide sites are also on the tourist itinerary. And it is meant to shock: in the town of Murambi, classrooms still contain the bodies of the people who were killed there, covered in lime to preserve them. In Kigali, a museum documents the genocide. Survivors lead the tours to help them heal from the horror.

The goal is to restore the country’s tourism industry and generate US $100 million a year by 2010. It is currently bringing in US $45 million. The approach is to target the ethical end of the tourism market. The idea is to use tourism as a means to avert the tensions that helped to cause the genocide in the first place: poverty, illiteracy and government hording all the wealth. The idea is to employ as many people as possible and spread the wealth as wide as possible.

Published: March 2008

Resources

  • The UN Environment Programme has a special division to advise on post-conflict and disaster management.
    Website: http://postconflict.unep.ch/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Tourist Passion for Quirky Holidays Helps South

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Conventional thinking holds that any country with a poor or non-existent reputation in the international media will not attract tourists. But this conventional thinking is wrong: The hottest tourist trend for 2009 is directly benefiting the South’s more out-of-the-way and under-appreciated countries. So says a travel expert who specializes in overlooked travel destinations.

Prior to the economic downturn, tourism accounted for more than 10 percent of global GDP and 8 percent of total employment worldwide. It grew by 6 percent in 2007, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Tourism in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 10 percent and Africa by 8 percent.

But it has since declined by 8 percent between January and April of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008. Destinations worldwide recorded a total of 247 million international tourist arrivals in those four months, down from 269 million in 2008 (UNWTO World Tourism Barometer).

This means competition is heating up for tourists. Well-travelled tourists are now looking for out-of-the-way places and places far off the beaten track. They want to be unique and have a tale to tell when they get home.

Tony Wheeler, author of the book Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil and co-founder of the Lonely Planet travel guides, said “Lots of tourists want to be the first through the door.”

During the Fitur Travel Fair in Madrid in January 2009, Myanmar (formerly Burma) appeared for the first time. Europe’s biggest travel fair also saw Zimbabwe, the Palestinian territories and Iran chasing travellers to come and see the sights.

Wheeler told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that, ironically, the more negative reports in the media a country gets, the more this new breed of tourist want to visit and find out the truth.

And his travel experiences have taught him, for example, the Burmese people do not believe in isolation and boycotts, as he wrote in the Guardian.

“Over the three decades since my first visit, tourism has grown from 20,000 tourists a year to more than 100,000.”
“Cutting the country off from the rest of the world isn’t going to help. We recently received a letter from one of our Burma authors saying the psychological damage of being isolated can be as bad as the economic damage.”

North Korea – which was labelled part of the “axis of evil” by President George W. Bush – saw its foreign tourist numbers rise to 4,500 in 2008 from just 600 in 2001.

Ross Kennedy of Africa Albida Tourism, which operates safari lodges in Zimbabwe, said bad headlines hurt but presenting an alternative view can reverse apprehension and lure tourists to come.

The lodges saw a 4 percent rise in visitors in 2008 in spite of chaotic elections in Zimbabwe that drew negative press.

“You certainly can’t write off an entire destination because of the choices or behaviour of a few individuals,” Kennedy told the Telegraph.

Tourism is now generally recognized to be one of the largest industries in the world, if not the largest. It has grown rapidly and almost continuously over the past 20 years, and is now one of the world’s most significant sources of employment and of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism particularly benefits the economies of developing countries, where most of the sector’s new tourism jobs and businesses are being created.

Tourism, because it is a labor-intensive industry, is seen as a great way both to reduce poverty and to meet all the Millennium Development Goals. It favours small-scale businesses, it is decentralized and can diversify regional economies, it is relatively non-polluting and can contribute to the conservation and promotion of natural and cultural heritage, and most importantly it can act as a catalyst for kick-starting other sectors of the economy.

In Iran, the Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel, located in the province of East Azerbaijan in the north-west of the country, has been luring in tourists with the villages’ cave homes. Located in the village of Kandovan, where residents speak a Turkish dialect, the homes look like craggy sandcastles with holes in them; around 700 people live in the hollowed out rocks.

Prior to the hotel opening, it was only possible to visit for a day and the locals, who make their money harvesting fruit and walnuts, were suspicious of outsiders.

Kandovan means “Land of the Unknown Carvers”. An added attraction to visiting Kandovan is the mystery surrounding the houses. No one knows how long people have been there or when the homes were carved out of the rock. Others claim it is the biblical land of Nod, where Cain was left to wander after murdering his brother Abel.

The hotel occupies a hillside of caves and has a large restaurant and rooms that blend traditional décor like Persian rugs with modernist touches like recessed lighting. The rooms offer under-floor heating and some even have whirlpool baths. The hotel currently has 10 rooms, but plans to expand to 30.

Published: July 2009

Resources

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Website: www.unwto.org

Magic Carpet Travel: It specializes in trips to Iran and bookings for the Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel. Website: www.magic-carpet-travel.com

African Travel and Tourism Association: ATTA creates the platform for buyers across Europe to meet suppliers of African tourism products at networking events, trade shows and through its links with the media. Website: www.atta.co.uk

Planeta: One of the first ecotourism resources to go online (since 1994) and still offers plenty of information for those wanting to start a business. Website: www.planeta.com

Off The Beaten Track Travel Magazine: Off The Beaten Track is a site for the traveller who avoids the beaten path of mass tourism. Website: www.off-the-beaten-track.net

World Tourism Cities: Developing Tourism Off the Beaten Track, edited by Robert Maitland and Peter Newman, Publisher: Routledge. Website: www.amazon.com

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Africa’s Tourism Sector Can Learn from Asian Experience

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Africa continues to be seen as new territory for global tourism, yet it still is not even close to meeting its potential,according to a report by a South African think tank. In fact, many resorts and tourist areas are failing to fill up with visitors. This contrasts with the booming world tourism industry, which broke records in arrivals in 2011 (UNWTO).

Apart from South Africa, much of sub-Saharan Africa is the worst performing region for tourism in the world. Africa received 5.2 per cent of the world’s tourism – 40 million visitors – in 2010. Yet the continent as a whole has 15 per cent of the world’s population: a hint at the potential being missed.

Okavango Delta in Botswana (botswana-places.co.za/okavango.html), reports Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper,has nearly empty luxury lodges and resorts and is offering heavy discounts to lure tourists in.

But the report believes there are two countries African nations can look to for lessons on how to tighten up their tourism offerings: Vietnam and Cambodia. It points out both these countries share similar challenges, including colonial legacies, war and conflict, poor quality skills and weak infrastructure. Both countries dramatically reversed their failures in a decade and now have booming tourism sectors creating jobs and bringing in wealth.

Africa suffers from negative publicity generated by media reporting about terrorist attacks on tourists across the continent and kidnappings by criminal gangs and pirates in East Africa. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ upheavals in North Africa are also having an impact. The continent’s many infrastructure problems also limit its potential. These include unreliable power supplies, out-of-date airports, inadequate involvement of local populations in the benefits of tourism and the tourist economy, and poor awareness of attractions apart from the clichéd African “safari”.

The report is urging a re-think by all of Africa’s nations of their tourism strategies and the structure of their tourism sectors. In order for the tourism industry to grow and to thrive, greater focus is required and greater investment needed to ensure the facilities, attractions and experience matches what tourists would expect. And the report believes this matters a great deal because in tourism lies the solution to many of the continent’s high unemployment problems.

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and a great generator of wealth and jobs. But while it provides 5 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), it only provides 2 per cent of Africa’s GDP.

Tourism in Africa is also heavily skewed to just a handful of countries. The bulk of tourists visit just four countries: Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.

“This desultory record belies the natural advantages Africa has over other regions that have performed much better,in particular the continent’s extraordinary diversity – of wildlife, environment and people,” according to the report produced by the Brenthurst Foundation (thebrenthurstfoundation.org), a think-tank in Johannesburg.

The paper is called ‘Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential: Lessons from Vietnam and Cambodia’ (http://www.thebrenthurstfoundation.org/a_sndmsg/news_view.asp?I=121182&PG=288)

The Brenthurst Foundation researches new ideas and “innovative actions for strengthening Africa’s economic performance”.

Cambodia’s tourism industry grew by 17 per cent in 2010 and became the country’s second largest earner of foreign income. In Vietnam, tourism has grown by 11 per cent every year since 1995 and makes up 12 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The report isolated four key lessons that African tourism authorities should follow:

1) Help the private sector to expand what it offers to tourists, and make it more sophisticated, including ecotourism and maritime tourism.

2) Undertake aggressive international marketing campaigns (South Africa is a good example) and push hard their well-known tourism offerings, making them global icons. Also develop tourism hubs.

3) The tourism sector needs to professionalize by investing in skills training in tourism and hospitality.

4) Identify potential tourist markets and smooth the journey for them by streamlining obstacles like visas. They should also make a list of health and safety concerns tourists will have and address them. The report believes this strategy would go a long way to tackle the continent’s high unemployment levels.

“No continent stands to benefit more from the 21st century tourism boom than Africa,” the report claims.

Published: February 2012

Resources

1) World Tourism Organization: UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible,sustainable and universally accessible tourism.Website: http://unwto.org

2) Vietnam Tourism: The national tourism administration of Vietnam. Website: http://www.vietnamtourism.com

3) Tourism Cambodia: The official website for the tourism authority of Cambodia.Website: http://www.tourismcambodia.com

4) Tourism and Poverty Reduction: Pathways to Prosperity by Jonathan Mitchell and Caroline Ashley, Publisher:Earthscan.Website: http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?TabId=92842&v=497073

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Ghana Wants to Tap Global Trendy Party Scene

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Tourism is big business – and one of the most resilient parts of the global economy. Despite the international economic crisis that has wreaked havoc and increased unemployment and poverty in many countries since 2007, tourism is still going strong.

The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (http://www2.unwto.org/) found international tourist arrivals grew by 5 per cent during the first half of 2013 from the same period in 2012, reaching 500 million arrivals.

“The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that traveling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs.”

One successful way to lure tourists, especially young tourists, is to nurture hubs of culture, outdoor activities, music and fashion around a holiday destination – generally one involving sun and sand. Such “party scenes” can be found in hotspots as far afield as Florida, the Spanish island of Ibiza and Koh Samui (http://www.kohsamui.com/) in Thailand. While at times annoying to local people, these groups of young tourists do bring significant wealth to smaller towns and seaside communities.

And now there are some in Africa who want to replicate this successful business formula in beach communities.

The Ghanaian fishing village of Kokrobrite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokrobite), located west of the capital, Accra, has become a nascent hub for a dance music scene and beach parties.

“We are organizing an all-day-long beach party with DJs, food and partying, inspired by the kind of summer jams that are held in Miami,” Basil Anthony, Chief Executive of Silky Entertainment (http://www.silkyentertainment.com/), told The Guardian newspaper. Silky Entertainment is organizer of Ghana Summer Beach Rave 2013.

“We are expecting partygoers in the thousands, and double the number we had last year. It’s going to be big.”

Other popular events include Tidal Rave (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f5Wy3g9Y7w), aimed at university students, and an upmarket champagne party at Bella Roma beach which attracts expats and wealthy Ghanaians.

While these events have been very popular locally, ambitious entertainment entrepreneurs want to take the parties to the next level and make them truly global events, attracting tourists from around the world.

“The next Ibiza will be in Africa. It has already started,” said Andrew Tumi, also known as Won, a singer from the group Supafly.

“We are trying to recreate the good things about going to Ibiza, the music and the vibes. But more and more we are creating our own sound here, an Afro-house, reggae, African mashup… It’s really blending the African rhythm into a house scene.”

Dance music is hot right now, and is being refreshed with new trends in Afro-house and Afro-pop from across the continent. This in turn is creating a demand for parties to celebrate and enjoy the music.

The economic impact is considerable as the parties inspire other businesses to feed off the good vibrations. DJ MoBlack, who works in a nightclub in Accra, told The Guardian, “It’s not just the music, it’s a whole scene that’s on the rise – goods, fashion, jewelry – there is a style revolution happening around it. It’s a unique African vibe, but something that people everywhere can relate to.”

The impact on the tourism sector is already quantifiable. Tourist visits to Ghana grew from 400,000 a year in 2005 to 1 million in 2011.

Ben Ohene-Aryeh at the Ghana Tourism Authority (http://www.ghana.travel/) is optimistic bigger things are to come: “[The scene] is catching on well with the youth and now we hope that it will be done on a massive scale,” he said.

There is, however, a downside to this strategy: drug use is on the increase. According to the West Africa Commission on Drugs (wacommissionondrugs.org), marijuana use is on the rise as well as harder drugs such as cocaine.

It’s clear there are pitfalls to the youth-tourism strategy, but these can be managed with the right strategy – and the economic opportunities for small communities are substantial.

Published: November 2013

Resources

1) Information on drug tourism from DARA Thailand: DARA is Asia’s first and leading international destination for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Website: http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/drug-tourism/

2) 3rd UNWTO International Conference on Tourism and the Media: How new media is shaping the news: With the rise of the new media, both the media landscape and the way stories are being told are changing. Millions of consumers now have the possibility to directly engage in the editorial process due to faster than ever evolving technology. More recently, mobile technology and a myriad of applications for smart phone devices are increasingly influencing communication flows. Website: http://www2.unwto.org/en/event/3rd-unwto-international-conference-tourism-and-media-how-new-media-shaping-news

3) The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer: A regular publication of the Tourism Trends and Marketing Strategies Programme of UNWTO aimed at monitoring the short-term evolution of tourism and providing the sector with relevant and timely information. Website: http://mkt.unwto.org/en/barometer

Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa: INVESTOUR is an annual tourism business and knowledge exchange platform in which representatives of African tourism and potential Spanish and Portuguese investors/partners meet to discuss about business and cooperation opportunities. Website: http://africa.unwto.org/en/event/v-tourism-investment-and-business-forum-africa-investour-edition-2014-madrid-spain

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022