Pro-poor tourism and sustainability
Pro – poor tourism is defined as tourism that generates net benefits for the poor and the benefits may be economic, social, cultural or environmental. Pro – poor tourism is not a specific product or sector of tourism but an approach to the industry.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and in general, Africa has recorded a higher increase in the international tourism arrivals hence the tourism industry making important contributions to the economies of developing countries. But is it important to those countries with a high proportion of poor people? For the case of Uganda, tourism has been a major driver of foreign exchange, investment & employment thus contributing a relatively higher GDP which was estimated about 7.3% in 2017.
For tourism in Uganda to generate that high GDP, it has focused on Uganda’s wildlife, culture & landscape but the local people around those attraction sites have remained extremely poor because of high levels of revenue ‘leakage’ and of the revenue that is retained in the travel destinations, much is captured by rich or middle-income groups not the poor. This has forced local people near the wildlife areas to harm the wildlife which encroach on their crops or livestock. Some hungry locals staying around the national parks will poach or hunt down bush meat in order to take care of their families and without community involvement and integration, wildlife conservation cannot be successful in the long term.
Fortunately, in many destinations where Ujambo Boots Safaris operates, we try to make sustainable tourism more pro poor which benefits the poor and in order to move this agenda to tackle poverty alleviation, Ujambo Boots Safaris requires a number of fronts;
• Expanding the focus of mainstream tourism initiatives beyond mainstream destinations, to destinations where many of the country’s poor live and their voices need to be heard.
• Moving beyond a community tourism focus to developing mechanisms that unlock opportunities for the poor at all levels and scale of operations.
• Putting the poor & poverty at the centre of sustainability debate, rather than just the environment.
With pro – poor tourism & sustainability, Ujambo Boots Safaris will help to manage all resources in such a way the economic, social & aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support system.
Munyirwa Osman Ganja