Southern African states need to create the right policy, fight corruption and build infrastructure if they want tourism to thrive in their countries. By doing so, they will allow the economic development potential of the sector to trickle down to communities in a way that encourages inclusive and sustainable growth.
This is the recommendation of Dr Sue Snyman, economist and tourism expert with the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU), based in South Africa.
‘Some African countries don’t encourage investment in tourism, particularly from the private sector,’ she explains. ‘For instance, if taxes and visa policies are restrictive, it makes it difficult for tourists to visit a country, and private operators won’t invest there.’
Governments also have a role to play in building good road and communications’ infrastructure, in curbing corruption, and creating political stability - all of which create a country which tourists are more likely to want to visit.
Tourism on the continent has become highly competitive and if one country fails to create a thriving sector, tourists will shop elsewhere.
These are some of the conclusions which Snyman reaches in her chapter contribution to a new Springer title, Reframing Sustainable Tourism, due out in the new year. She focuses on strategic community participation on sustainable tourism.
‘Botswana is an interesting case,’ she says. ‘Its strategy is to grow its low-volume, high-cost ecotourism market. This means that tourists get an exclusive experience, and at the same time it stops some of the problems associated with mass tourism.’
Planning in this way can help establish a sector which, even though a relatively small contributor to Botswana’s GDP, will become more important as the diamond industry, its main money-earner, loses momentum in future.
‘Tourism has great potential to boost economic development in Southern African countries,’ concludes Snyman, who also works with the regional tour operator Wilderness Safaris, ‘and governments have an important part to play in fostering the right conditions for the private sector to thrive in a way that allows communities to benefit.’
Dr Sue Snyman’s work focuses on how to include communities in sustainable and inclusive tourism ventures on the subcontinent. For more information, contact Dr Snyman on SNYSUS002@myuct.ac.za.