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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Life is about trial and error (Part II)

23rd October 2012

One could ask numerous questions about the tourism sector, as answering these questions could bring about more doubts or it could prove that everyone is somehow affected by tourism, directly or indirectly.

We hear from numerous quarters of the contribution of tourism to our national economies. Perhaps what we need to look at now is its impact on our societies at large and our environment.

Tourism ofcourse has negative as well as its positive side. The bottom line is how to eliminate the negative effects and accentuate the positive.

There are various forms of tourism, tailored to the needs of specific target groups. Each type of tourism has baggage of good and bad. Local tourism policies usually determine what type of tourism it attracts to its respective country, which usually regulates who would benefit from it. Though, this does not make for equal distribution of the fruits of the industry but one might earn some portion from it.

In recent decades, some countries have realized that perhaps the aim of tourism is to firstly guarantee high local participation and benefits. As without local contribution and participation, the industry might not see a steady or progressive growth. There are some examples of destinations in the world that have jumped on the community-based tourism bandwagon, like some islands in the Caribbean or Southern Europe.

These destinations have had to focus on protecting their environment and safeguarding the welfare of the local communities. It is all done in the name of “tourism for all” - after all it is all about the people.

The tourism sector like any other industry requires knowledge and awareness conducive to positive changes. Changes that should benefit “all” directly or indirectly. The goal is to involve everyone where possible.

Every destination has its attractions, be it the natural flora & fauna, vivid history, exotic culture and ofcourse the people – this is what normally drives most outsiders to the exploration of the individual countries.

Though we must also learn how to preserve these precious gems of what make up our homes and unique tourist destinations, we should encourage and inspire the younger generation on the importance of preserving their identity while still reap the fruits of tourism, in a sustainable manner. We should instill pride in them as well empower them to be the next pioneers in the tourism sector so that they can showcase the power of the local people and the beauty of their culture and heritage.

We have learned that in order for the industry to thrive, infrastructure is needed to cater for the various needs demanded by visitors. Though, if we were to remove from the equation, the infrastructure and other investments made to cater for the tourism industry, we are left with the local communities and the environment. This in essence indicates the significance of these two factors in the whole equation. Every equation needs a balance so that the end results can add up and form a well calculated formula.

In this case, one side of the equation is the infrastructure and the other side is our societies and environment. Some might argue that both side need just as much focus to ensure that the equation balances.

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