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Overcoming Tourism Challenges May Boost the Industry

BY ISSA YUSSUF, 5 SEPTEMBER 2012

Experts from various countries worldwide met in Zanzibar mid last month to discuss various issues on tourism industry in developing countries. The International Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Developing Countries was organized by the University of Dar es Salaam Business School (UDBS), Marketing Department.

Dr John Philemon, the Conference Coordinator said the August 8 and 9 meeting at Zanzibar Beach Resort in Zanzibar was to “deliberate on findings emanating from various researchers on matters pertaining to the industry, as well as practical experiences that would offer solutions to numerous problems facing the tourism industry in developing countries.”

The conference, attracted participants from Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, Israel, Nigeria, South Korea, Iran, Mexico, Sweden, United Kingdom and hosting Tanzania. Some delegates came from Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States and Germany.

In his speech to open the conference, Zanzibar second vice president ambassador Seif Ali Iddi said friendly eenvironment are important in promoting sustainable tourism in developing countries with a focus on cultural tourism, capacity development, and awareness in conservation.

“It is now common knowledge that social and economic development in African and other developing countries depends considerable on establishment and development of small and medium size enterprises,” the vice president said in his speech read by Mr Said Ali Mbarouk, Minister for tourism, on his behalf.

He said that the enterprises are now greatly in tourism sector, therefore the need for sustainable tourism remains crucial in developing “our countries,” as most of the participants mainly students, lecturers, and tourism operators from 15 countries mainly African countries nodded in support.

Several papers were presented at the conference being held at the Zanzibar Beach Resort, with emphasis on sustainable tourism to involve conservation, environmental integrity, social justice and economic development, aiming at benefiting people.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam Prof Rwekiza Mukandala also observed that sustainable tourism was important at this era when sustainable tourism plays a big role in economical development.

The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “tourism which leads to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.”

In addition WTO describes the development of sustainable tourism as a process which meets the needs of present tourists and host communities whilst protecting and enhancing needs in the future.

It explains further that sustainable development (including tourism) is about making sure that people throughout the world can satisfy their basic needs now, while making sure that future generations can also look forward to the same quality of life, it should recognise that the three ‘pillars’ – the economy, society and the environment – are interconnected.

But according to the researchers, and stakeholders at the meeting, although in many developing countries like Tanzania, there have been efforts to develop tourism, little efforts is being taken to overcome challenges facing the tourism sector and particularly how it could be improved, and alternative tourism products managed so as to maximize their contribution to economic development and poverty alleviation.

Mr Simon Ole Seno, from the school of natural Resources management- Narok University College, Kenya also mentioned another challenge of the tourism market is almost entirely controlled by both the tourism companies and the tourists of the developed countries, with little benefits by local people surrounding the tourist sights.

Local people and Members of Parliaments (MPs) have been also complaining about the foreign dominance of the tourism industry. Many hotels are owned by foreigners, most staffs in hotels are foreigners, and most tourists are foreigners! With only few benefit for local people.

Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives (MPs in Zanzibar) have repeatedly that the tourism sector is dominated by foreigners contrary to the isles ambition of establishing the industry three decades ago.

At Tourism conference, participants urged governments in developing countries to focus at training local people to work in hotels instead of foreigners, motivate local investors to invest in tourism business, improve infrastructure, and over come other challenges.

Mr Sudhanshu Shekhar Mahato, Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Science College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Dodoma says, “Although there has been substantial growth in the number of tourist in the recent years, but it is difficult even to maintain the trend in the absence of improvement in the existing infrastructure and facilities.”

Mahato said expanding business in tourism, means individual government in developing countries have to overcome some of the existing challenges in the tourism industry which include infrastructure, poor hotel services, climate change, maintaining good relations with local people, wild fire, drought and migration, and security in the country and tourist sights.

Infrastructure: plays a vital role with regards to convenient movement of people both from inside and outside the country. Access to different parts of the Tanzania and Zanzibar by roads, railway, air is most suitable from comfortable point of view as well as the travelling cost is concerned.

Hotel Services: Hotel services throughout the country are limited especially at the tourist spots. This gives no option for the tourist to make a choice but to opt for what is available at hand although the prices are very high in comparison to the facilities available.

Climate Change: One of the significant issues that have posed to be a matter of serious concern to the government, researchers and social activist in the recent years is the impact of climatic change experienced by water bodies specially.

The dropping down of water level in Lake Victoria due to climatic change is very threatening. Similarly loosing of glaciers from Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in the African continent by almost 80 percent since 1912 and rising water level in Indian Ocean undoubtedly suggest the consequence of climatic change. Beach erosion has become almost a regular feature in recent years, mitigation could help.

Eviction of people from the National Park Area: A good number of people, who have inhabited the areas from generation after generation, are forcefully evicted when the government lease out the area for industrialization and other reasons. This threatens the social harmony in the region.

Although efforts are made for their resettlement and compensation but the compensation paid is not adequate to meet their requirement especially in terms of recreation of their livelihood.

Wild fire: Besides acute shortage of water, the spread of wild fire is equally a great threat to flora and fauna of the regions. A number of species are endangered because of either natural or manmade fire that engulfs the insect and small animals particularly.

Drought and migration of animals: During dry season in general and droughts situation in particular compels the huge migration of animals from one region to another either in search of food to meet their hunger or looking for water to quench their thirst.Since there is no physical boundary to restrict their movement, there exists every possibility of a large number of animals entering into the neighbouring territory.

Security: Although developing nations like Tanzania in African continent can proudly boast of not having a civil war or the act of terrorism as mostly reported in other developing countries but the maintenance of such temperament itself is a big challenge for the government. Mere negligence of the government might spark an ignition that would cause huge pay particularly to this growing industry serving as the backbone of the nation’s economy.

Presenting a paper at the tourism conference on “the Impact of 2011 post elections violence and “Boko Haram” insurgency on tourism development in northern Nigeria…” Mr Ibrahim Sani Kankara from the department of history and security studies at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina state, Nigeria said that the development of tourism industry in Katsina that was established over long period time has been greatly destabilized over the period.

“Katsina state is the centre of origin of Hausa people and at the same time an important centre of learning in the West African sub-region. The historical development in the area had left Katsina with legacies of historical sites and monuments that attracted people from different continents as tourist over the last century,” said Ibrahim adding

“The government in the area over the years have committed millions naira to burst and improve the tourism potentialities through building of roads and providing basic amenities in order to give the tourist site a world class outlook. But, with 2011 post election violence that erupted after the April elections and the present Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern Nigeria region economic activities were greatly affected.”

Tourism in Zanzibar which relies heavily on biodiversity with several wonderful sights from historical sights, culture, to the sandy beaches on its coastline, is a major foreign exchange earner with about 80 percent. It now employs over 40,000 people including those employed indirectly.

Source: allAfrica

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Climate Change – Bleak Future for Zanzibar Economy

BY ISSA YUSSUF, 29 AUGUST 2012

ZANZIBAR is already highly vulnerable to climate variability, and will be amongst most affected by future climate change, while sea level rise received most attention; there are multiple risks, particularly to ecosystem services that underpin island economies.

This is a concluding paragraph in a research report conducted on ‘Climate Change on Zanzibar: Impacts, Adaptation, Economics &Low Carbon Growth’ by the Global Climate Adaptation Partnership, and local partners. Thanks to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for funding. Researchers in the report launched two weeks ago, have advised Zanzibar that adaptation can reduce the risks, cautioning of cost, and requires necessary finance and capacity to access and effectively use resources.

Mr Paul Watkiss, the research project director, led other experts in the eight month research in the Islands advising further, Zanzibar to act now, including considering Low carbon development by providing a more sustainable energy future, development and sustainability benefits, and opportunities for finance

The objectives of the study were to: Assess climate change impacts and their economic costs for Zanzibar, analyze costs and benefits of adapting to these effects over different timescales, assess the potential for low carbon growth, including development benefits and finance opportunities, and build national capacity and take advantage of local knowledge. In a general perspective a large proportion of Zanzibar’s GDP and most of the livelihoods on the islands are associated with climate sensitivity activities, either directly such as with agriculture or tourism, or indirectly for example from the use of natural resources.

Therefore the economy and people of the islands are very dependent on the weather and climate. However, the finding in the research shows that climate of Zanzibar has been changing, and in the last decade has seen a significant increase in extreme events (climate variability), the recent extreme events such as droughts and floods, as example, which has led to major economic costs.

The researcher observed that future climate change may also lead to a change in the frequency or severity of such extreme weather events, potentially worsening impacts, and that it will also change the climate of the islands, leading to a number of potential impacts. “As an island, Zanzibar will be potentially be affected by sea level rise and coastal erosion, as well as possible impacts on the agriculture and tourism industries. The islands have a rich marine environment that provides important ecosystem services, and these are particularly at risk,” the report says.

In her speech at the launch of the report, Ms Fatma Abdulhabib Fereji- State Minister responsible for climate change and environment said the study is to prepare “our country along the pathway of a green and climate-resilient economy. In order to minimize the impacts and maximize the opportunities posed by climate change, Zanzibar must now plan and implement appropriate actions and coordinated response towards climate change.”

She said that there was importance of mobilizing climate funding from a variety of sources, public, and private bilateral and multilateral, regional and international, including innovative sources of finance, to support Zanzibar’s need on climate change adaptation and mitigation plan, should be recognized and taken seriously. The minister said that although Zanzibar is already benefiting from climate change finance such as a pilot programme for climate resilience supported by the government of Japan under the UNDP-AAP programme, and the implementation of HIMA-REDD project financed by the Government of Norway through care International, “but more is required.”

Fatma thanked development partners and DFID for supporting the study, as she emphasized, “It is extremely important that any climate change policy, strategy, action plan, National Mitigation Actions (NAMA) and alike of the United Republic of Tanzania (URT) should have a specific bearing on the needs and uniqueness of Zanzibar. Only then can the URT show a unified commitment in mainstreaming the issues of climate change adaptation in every corner of its society.”

On his part the Zanzibar climate change committee chairperson- Dr Omar Shajak said “We all know that climate change is real and the impacts of climate change on our environmental, social, and economic setting are visible. The debate has now moved from whether climate is happening or not, rather it has moved towards how we can prepare our country against the negative impacts of climate change, as described in the goals of MKUZA-II.”

He explained that MKUZA-II focuses on the national capacity to mitigate and adapt the impacts of climate change on Zanzibar by year 2015. “This can be done through strengthening of climate change adaptation responses at all levels of our economic sectors,” he said. Shajak pointed out that the path towards climate adaptation is not an easy one, and that it requires a national determination to engage all the three major options of climate change which include: capacity building in climate risk mapping, climate monitoring and awareness programsme; short-term NO regret options that focus on strengthened environmental management, protection and conservation; and climate screening in policies, planning, projects and on infrastructure.

“…there are many areas in Unguja and Pemba that are already experiencing this impact. Examples include increased salinity in the coastal wells; natural degradation of existing sea boundaries; intrusion of soil water to the crop fields; and destruction of fragile infrastructure,” he said. As example of some negative impacts of climate change in Zanzibar in last decade, the researchers mentioned in their report, rising impacts such as the 2005 flood (highest intensity of rainfall on record), which made 10,000 people homeless, and estimated economic cost 0.5 per cent of the GDP.

In 2007 drought (low and erratic rains) one of worst agricultural harvests, reduced island GDP by 2 – 4 per cent leading to about 300,000 people in malnutrition in 2008; 2009 and 2011. Wind storms (wind speeds increased in recent years), and major damage from monsoon winds, with property destruction. In the same year (2007) heat wave (highest ever recorded on island), and Sea surface temperatures highest on record, affecting seaweed industry.

The researchers also observed that future climate change will lead to high economic costs in “developing countries especially Africa and small Islands like Zanzibar, likely to have higher relative impacts with uncertain economic costs than other world regions.” It is mentioned in the report that future changes also threaten national growth/development objectives, risks of non-marginal changes (irreversible loss), and that without global mitigation, post 2030 impacts would be very severe.

Coral bleaching, mangroves destruction, drop in fisheries, agriculture, and tourism, are other likely threats, but the risks can be reduced through adaptation; protection, but also measures of coastal vegetation buffer zones. Agriculture: with no adaptation, maize yields in Zanzibar could decline significantly, though minor crop on the islands, possible effects for rice, and potential risk to cloves from wind speeds and changing zone.

Energy: For Zanzibar, potential effects on electricity supply via submarine cable (interconnector) from Tanzania mainland’s national Grid, disruptions in recent years affected tourist sector and whole economy, but also increasing electricity demand on island for cooling (air conditioning) from hotter temperatures, therefore power is important because of tourism industry. Health: effects of climate change – major impacts likely around food and water borne disease, possible risks of new vector borne, and effects of flooding.

Ecosystem services: Provision, regulation, support, and recreational and cultural services, which includes large economic benefits, this would underpin very large percentage of economy of small island developing states, in Zanzibar, provision of food and supporting industry (fisheries), and coral (tourism). Coastal protection (mangroves) and many other areas, key to growth, exports, revenues, and terrestrial ecosystems on small island states vulnerable to shifting ecological zones, and growing recognition of the role for ecosystem based adaptation.

Tourism: often major sector for small island developing states, large part of tourism driven by climate (tourism comfort index). Climate change may reduce attractiveness, especially beach tourism, for Zanzibar, tourism attractiveness is a more complex mix of climate, cultural and historic, natural resource based.

Climate change will act directly and indirectly, cross cutting through all sectors (sea level rise, coastal erosion, marine, water, energy, ecosystem services), emerging linkages with low carbon (aviation). The researchers put emphasis on adaptation to reduce the impacts of climate change, and that practical adaptation requires different approach: Capacity building and soft (ecosystem based) options, not just technical, options that robust against future uncertainty, framework of decision making under uncertainty, and Iterative (risk based) decision making.

Electricity supply: Invest in renewable generation investing in indigenous energy to increase system capacity in view of future demand, and away from expensive back-up, improve infrastructure and demand efficiency, reducing grid losses and increasing efficiency of use through improved, appliances could potentially reduce future supply needs significantly. Urban and transport sustainability: Promotion of non-motorised transport.

This could be done through restricting vehicles in certain areas or further incentivizing cycling/walking by promoting safety or via other incentives e.g. credit schemes. Vehicle efficiency promoted through import restrictions and/or maintenance/inspection regimes. Agriculture: Improved cropland management a range of practices for enhancing agricultural system resilience, increasing productivity and for developing carbon finance projects; and promotion of sustainable tourism by addressing energy efficiency and wider carbon footprint, to enhance tourism sector image, long term sustainability and energy supply.

Source: allAfrica


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Zanzibar faces serious challenges of climate change

Facing environmental and economic challenges posed by global climate change, Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island need to take steps to minimize the impact which could hinder the region’s future development, a report said Tuesday.

Zanzibar, Tanzania’s semi-autonomous region, is experiencing the effects of climate change especially along its coastal area where sea water is invading habitational and agricultural lands, said Fatma Freji, Zanzibar’s Minister of State in the Second Vice President’s office, while issuing the report.

Climate change is also affecting tourism sector as sea shores are being destroyed by environmental degradation and soil erosion, which has become a threat to the island’s economy which depends heavily on tourism, she said, adding that Zanzibar lacks resources to eliminate the effects of climate change.

The report indicated that Zanzibar need to have reliable sustainable strategies to give priorities to environmental issues, disaster management and civil education among public and private sectors.

Due to the importance of the situation, there is a need to secure financial procurement from different sources, including public and private sectors, other countries, regional and international organizations, to help Zanzibar’s efforts of fighting against climate change, the minister said.

“It is true that Zanzibar does benefit from financial assistance to deal with climate change…and my office has introduced coordination in coping with environmental effects and climate change,” she said.

Source: China.org.cn