UNWTO Organizes Tourism and Biodiversity seminars in Tanzania and Ghana

04 Jun 14

Within the framework of the COAST (Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism) project in Africa, UNWTO is continuing its efforts to provide training to local tourism professionals to encourage them to become champions for environmental protection in their destination. The COAST project is a GEF funded project carried out by UNEP as implementing agency, UNIDO as executing agency and UNWTO as associate agency, including activities in nine countries in Africa (Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, and Tanzania).

A first Tourism and Biodiversity seminar had been organized in The Gambia in 2013, and based on the positive outcome, budget from the COAST project had been reserved to replicate the seminar in Tanzania in March 2014, and in Ghana in May 2014. The seminars had a duration of three days, and were organized in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, and Ada, Ghana, which are the demonstration sites in the COAST project. In each of the destinations, UNWTO had implemented a COAST eco-tourism project in the past two years, creating opportunities for local people to generate increased income from tourism, in particular through developing and promoting new eco-tourism products.  The Tourism & Biodiversity seminar specifically targeted stakeholders of the eco-tourism projects, approximately 25 participants per site, providing guidance on how to act as champions for biodiversity conservation and environmental management in their enterprise and community.

The seminars were organized in close collaboration with the Ministries of Tourism, and benefitted from detailed presentations of Ministry officials and representatives of Government Agencies dealing with environmental management. In each seminar, participants were trained to assess the main threats to the environment in their destination, caused by tourism and other economic activities, and to identify approaches to mitigate the threats and try to use tourism as a vector for biodiversity conservation. Field exercises were carried out in a tourism resort in the destinations to learn how to assess the operation of an enterprise, identify good environmental practices and make suggestions for improvements for environmental protection. On the last day of the seminar, participants prepared detailed action plans with a specific timeframe on the activities they will start undertaking to operate as champions for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in their enterprise and community.

The seminar in Ghana was officially closed by the Hon. Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Ms. Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, who thanked the participants for their commitment to help protect the environment and develop Ada as a leading eco-tourism destination in the country. During the closing ceremony, the Honorable Minister also handed mountain bikes, a boat motor and a computer to the group of community guides with a view to enabling them to further diversify the eco-tourism excursions in Ada and manage a local tourism information office.