(eTN) - Considering Africa's potential in biodiversity, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has pledged its support to African countries to develop sustainable tourism through the management and protection of national parks.
Responding to declaration that was endorsed by participants of the First Pan African Conference on Development of Sustainable Tourism in National Parks the UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai said African countries need to work together to achieve a common goal in developing the continent's tourism.
He said Africa needs a new approach to development of tourism, most important working together with local communities neighboring the national parks, in order to bring a joint responsibility in protecting biodiversity for sustainable tourism base.
âWe need to work together to protect and sustain national parks and we must share our knowledge as Africans in order to develop sustainable tourismâ, Dr. Rifai told the conference delegates.
In their declaration, read before the UNWTO chief, participants of the conference, including a group of African tourism ministers, national parks managers, tourism professionals and policymakers, said this continent has been endowed with extreme diversity of nature (flora and fauna) parks and other such protected ecological areas with economic benefits to respective countries.
Through their declaration, the conference participants had encouraged African governments to consider the role and potential for sustainable tourism in national parks and protected areas, as a priority in each country's national policy.
They also recommended African countries to have high consideration of issues related to good governance of sustainable tourism and particularly, the need to associate local communities in management of parks and other protected areas, so as to ensure that they gain concrete benefits through employment and income generation.
Participants of the conference emphasized the need to create synergies among the relevant stakeholders, between public authorities and private sector, as well as the need to coordinate and consolidate public policies and strategies related to tourism and national parks management.
Other recommendations reached out by the conference participants are for African countries to consider opportunities for collaboration ways that would improve policies for management of tourism in national parks and protected areas, and to exchange knowledge and technical expertise in order to achieve this goal.
They also requested through their declaration, the UNWTO in association with member states and international organizations to consider the creation of observatories to develop scientific, environmental, economic knowledge and social awareness regarding national parks and protected areas in Africa.
On the other hand, the conference participants noted that experience from African countries shows sustainable tourism management in national parks and protected areas greatly contributes funds to support biodiversity conservation, protect endangered species and develop public interest for development and sustainable tourism.
Other benefits from sustainable tourism are improvement of quality of life of local communities and effective poverty reduction, creation of opportunities for employment and decent jobs, creation of small and medium enterprises linked to tourism, provision of resources to the relevant countries and support for social stability in relevant regions and countries.
The conference has attracted more than 400 delegates from 40 African countries and the rest of the world and has been organized by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
It attracted high profile official from Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Tanzania.