Tourism in West Africa: Community-Based Challenges and Opportunities
Updated: May 17
I remember when the Calabar Carnival in Rivers State, Nigeria was a highly anticipated event in Nigeria and abroad every December. It used to be one of the hottest events in Africa, with hotels fully booked across the state. However, it has lost its hype in recent years, leaving people wondering what happened and why it has not been as popular. This is what inspired me to write this article.
Before we discuss the issues related to tourism in the West African region, I will go over some developmental and social issues that could have contributed to the decline in the popularity of tourist attractions such as the Calabar Carnival:
Lack of Infrastructure: In recent years, there has been a decline in the infrastructure of the cities, such as Calabar, making it difficult to host massive tourist events. The roads leading to the city are poorly maintained, there is a lack of reliable transportation, and the electricity supply is often erratic, which can affect the smooth running of the event.
Security Concerns: Nigeria has faced various security challenges, including terrorism, banditry, and kidnappings. This has created fear among tourists, who may be hesitant to attend tourist events. Also, there have been reports of violence and theft during such events, which can also discourage visitors
Economic Recession: Nigeria has faced economic challenges in recent years, with high inflation, unemployment, and a devalued currency. This has made it difficult for people to afford to travel and attend events like the Calabar Carnival.
Poor Organization and Management: In the past, there have been reports of poor organization and management of tourist attractions, leading to delays, confusion, and disappointment among attendees. This can discourage people from attending future events.
Changing Priorities: With the advent of social media and new forms of entertainment, people's priorities and interests have shifted. Younger generations may be more interested in attending music festivals, sporting events, or other forms of entertainment, rather than tourist attractions.
These are just some of the possible reasons for the decline in the popularity of tourism in West Africa. Addressing these issues could help revive such events and bring back their former glory.
West Africa is a region known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and diverse communities. Unfortunately, this region is also known for its poverty, underdevelopment, and social inequality. One way to address these issues is by promoting community-based tourism, which can create economic opportunities for local communities while promoting cultural exchange and understanding. We will explore the developmental and social issues involved in building partnerships with local communities to promote community-based tourism in West Africa, as well as the solutions that can be implemented to address these issues.
Developmental Issues affecting tourism in West Africa
One of the primary developmental issues that must be addressed when promoting community-based tourism in West Africa is the lack of infrastructure. Many communities in this region lack basic amenities such as clean water, electricity, and transportation. This lack of infrastructure can make it difficult for tourists to access these communities and for locals to provide the necessary services to tourists. In addition, the lack of infrastructure can also impact the quality of life for locals, making it difficult to attract and retain skilled workers.
Another developmental issue is the lack of access to financial resources. Many communities in West Africa lack access to credit and other financial resources, making it difficult for them to invest in tourism-related projects or start their own businesses. This lack of financial resources can also make it difficult for locals to compete with larger, more established tourism operators.
Social Issues affecting tourism in West Africa
In addition to developmental issues, there are also social issues that must be addressed when promoting community-based tourism in West Africa. One of the primary social issues is the lack of education and training. Many locals in this region lack the skills and knowledge needed to provide high-quality tourism services or to market their communities effectively. This lack of education and training can also make it difficult for locals to communicate with tourists effectively, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Another social issue is the lack of cultural understanding. Many tourists may come to West Africa with preconceived notions about the culture and may not take the time to understand the local customs and traditions. This lack of cultural understanding can lead to misunderstandings and cultural clashes, which can be detrimental to the success of community-based tourism projects.
Solutions to issues affecting tourism in West Africa
To address the developmental and social issues involved in promoting community-based tourism in West Africa, several solutions can be implemented.
One solution is to invest in infrastructure development. This can include building roads, providing access to clean water and electricity, and improving transportation options. By investing in infrastructure development, it will be easier for tourists to access local communities and for locals to provide the necessary services.
Another solution is to provide access to financial resources. This can include providing microfinance loans, grants, and other financial resources to local communities. By providing access to financial resources, locals will be better able to invest in tourism-related projects and start their own businesses.
To address the social issues involved in promoting community-based tourism, education, and training programs can be implemented. These programs can include language and cultural training, as well as training on tourism-related skills such as hospitality and customer service. By providing education and training programs, locals will be better equipped to provide high-quality tourism services and communicate effectively with tourists.
In addition, cultural exchange programs can be implemented to promote cultural understanding. These programs can include homestays, cultural tours, and other activities that allow tourists to learn about the local customs and traditions. By promoting cultural exchange, tourists will be better able to understand and appreciate the local culture, leading to more positive experiences for both tourists and locals.
Promoting community-based tourism in West Africa can create economic opportunities for local communities while promoting cultural exchange and understanding. However, to be successful, developmental and social issues must be addressed. By investing in infrastructure development, providing access to financial resources, implementing education and training programs, and promoting cultural exchange, it is possible to build partnerships with local communities to promote community-based tourism in West Africa and ensure that this type of tourism is sustainable, fair, and equally beneficial for both tourists and locals. By working together and incorporating the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we can help to promote a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable future for West Africa.
The promotion of community-based tourism in West Africa aligns with several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people have access to opportunities for prosperity and well-being.
SDG 1: No Poverty - Community-based tourism can reduce poverty by creating income-generating opportunities for locals.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth - Community-based tourism can create decent work opportunities for locals, particularly in hospitality and tourism-related services.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities - Community-based tourism can promote sustainable development by encouraging the preservation of cultural heritage and protecting the natural environment.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - Community-based tourism can promote peace and justice by encouraging cultural exchange and understanding between different cultures.
Here are some ways we can all contribute to the growth and promotion of community-based tourism in West Africa.
Research and choose community-based tourism options when traveling in West Africa
Support local businesses and artisans when visiting these communities
Engage with locals and learn about their culture and customs to promote cultural exchange and understanding.
Leave positive reviews and recommendations for community-based tourism businesses to help promote them to others
Donate to organizations working to support community-based tourism in West Africa
Spread the word about the benefits of community-based tourism and encourage others to support it as well
WRITTEN BY Anam Umanah
Anam is a tech enthusiast, a basketball fanatic, and a passionate cook. He currently works at a bank as a fraud analyst, where he is always seeking out new ways to incorporate the latest technologies into our daily operations. When he is not at work, you can usually find him in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and cooking up a storm. Basketball has been a passion of his since he was a child, and he loves following his favorite teams and players. With his diverse range of interests and talents, he is always up for a new challenge and eager to continue learning and growing in all areas of his life.
EDITED BY Chizulu Uwolloh.
'Zulu is a writer, self-proclaimed bibliophile, lawyer, and international development professional passionate about social impact and showing people how they can create change in their communities. She is also the founder of Kurerie, a digital platform, and community that amplifies the voices of youth making an impact in their communities. Kurerie educates young people on how they can become active stakeholders in the achievement of the SDGs. She is passionate about showing young people that they can change the world with the smallest actions.
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