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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Who benefits from tourism?
Tourist watching hippo in Zambia
It is World Tourism Day on Wednesday. Is Africa doing enough to promote its prime sites?

Every year Africa receives 37m international tourists, yet this number is only 4% of the global tourism market.

Countries like South Africa, Morocco and Kenya are top destinations. Supporters of tourism argue that Africa's vibrant cultures, natural beauty and historic sites should be promoted more, but critics say the sector exploits local people and can lead to prostitution and poverty.

Does tourism benefit Africa? What kind of tourism do you want in your country? Is tourism good or bad for local communities? Have you ever been a tourist?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

If correctly managed tourism is a big income maker
Riam Kendi, Mombasa, Kenya
If correctly managed tourism is a big income maker. Unfortunately Africa lacks a solid infrastructure hence the inability of tourism growth for its people. The main people that benefit from tourism in Africa are the corrupt leaders and then the large international organisations. The locals benefit only for a short period. The corrupt African leaders, fail to reinvest into a gold mine, they only see their gold mine.
Riam Kendi, Mombasa, Kenya

To increase tourism, Africa needs to improve its road systems. I was planning on going to Lilongwe in January, but I cancelled because chances are the road to Luangwa will be closed for the wet season. Governments should also consider starting their own tour companies. Africa is still mysterious to the west and package deals where all transport and lodging are taken care of are the best way to snare people who are worried about such things.
Lawrence, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

It is a good thing we are abstractly meditating on the goods that comes from tourism, because those of us who have had the opportunity to visit other part of the world have seen what we Africans are missing by not making use of our natural environment for good. But though, one thing we all fail to address is the instability of our society that hindered the investors from investing their hard-earn fortunes in our potential tourist sites.
Livinus E. Inordee

In most of Africa, I'm afraid it's the Europeans who benefit from tourism. Perverts have the chance to prey on poor and desperate locals when it comes to sexual exploits. I also fear a rise in 'pink' tourism because most of the young boys who get involved in gay activities are just poor and looking for a way out. Mind you, with a regulated system which removes these risks, tourism could be a gold mine. We don't hear the British complaining regularly about the above problems, do we?
Ngum Ngafor, Manchester, UK

Tourism has done more harm than good in Africa. Tourists come to Africa in the name of missionaries or mere visitors. They exploit our natural resources, abuse our girls sexually with dollars or Euros. They end up stealing some of our valuable assets.
Nche Sam Takoh, Bamenda, Cameroon

Tourism is the second biggest contributor to Botswana's economy and generated more than P12 billion last year. Last year over one million tourists visited Botswana. The government of Botswana is urging the locals to get involved in tourism, because the trade is at present in the hands of mostly foreigners. In this case it is only the government and foreigners who are gaining from tourism in Botswana. The government financial schemes are only for those who can afford to pay the required Fee, in order to qualify. Ordinary Batswana are left out, the same time their traditional way of life is destroyed by foreign cultures. Therefore, I think the government must make it possible for the ordinary people to gain from tourism in Botswana, by developing their existing traditional trade to fit into the modern trade.
Boipelo Busk, Give, Denmark

Africa is a wonderful place. Unfortunately, with Western civilisation, everything is changing. Culture is changing, and people will soon loose what belongs to them. Climate is also changing as we are experiencing a lot of drought in Africa, particularly Kenya. If we don't change our ways of living and preserve natural ecosystem, we are bound to lose this income in 20-50 years to come.
Kanda B Cheserek, San Antonio, Tx, USA.

My dad runs a safari company in Kenya, and I can say without a doubt that tourism is great for the local communities. Most of my dad's staff have been with us between 10-30 years. Many have introduced family members when we need new staff. We take care of our staff and immediate family's medical needs and we are putting several members of staffs children through school, we start off with the oldest child. Yes, there are people who will exploit their staff but that happens the world over.
Jodie Allan, Australia

I recently visited Uganda and Rwanda. The main idea I got was using tourism collected money to develop communities around the tourist attraction areas. It is impressing that 5 million dollars will be spent on the communities around Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. Clean water, schools for kids and even hospitals were built already. While we need to get money from tourism, it's equally important to protect the indigenous people because they are part of tourism attraction.
John Aguma, Los Angeles, California

Recently my girlfriend and I completed a 7 month trip from Cairo to Cape Town using local transport. We ate in local restaurants and stayed in local guesthouses wherever we felt safe enough to do so. The problem we had was that the local people in all countries but Uganda and Malawi seemed to resent us being in their areas, at times they were very hostile. Unfortunately this sends out a poor message to those independent travellers who want to meet real Africans that we are not wanted!
Martin, Galway, Ireland

It is crazy to think tourism does not help, think about it, if a lot of tourist visit then those hotels, stores, and what ever else will need to hire more employees, which then creates jobs for the locals, tourist are the best thing to help a country that is poor
Nicole R, Tampa FL, USA

I worked within the tourism industry in Africa for six years. What many people here have ignored is that in many countries the only reason why so many animal species have survived/ are protected is because of the money that tourism brings in. Wages for those working in the tourism industry are very low - both for blacks and whites. For the most part Africa as a whole could benefit much more from increased revenue from tourism is a small minority stopped portraying the African continent as an unsafe place to travel where "white" people are automatically going to be ripped off.
Alex, London, United Kingdom

Regrettably, most African countries still have to discover the benefits of tourism in the growth of the economy. My country, Cameroon is littered with a vast array of touristic potentials but these are grossly under utilised. I really wonder how many Africans really have time for tourism. This is because if I offer to take some friends for a tour say to a garden or natural forest, they will prefer I spend half of that money on alcohol instead. we have to truly redefine our priorities.
Chi Primus, Bamenda, Cameroon

Actually it depends on what kind of tourism practice is in place. This would greatly reflect on who benefits more or less. Sustainable tourism should be the rule rather than the exception.
Festus Ogu Idoko, Jos, Nigeria

Rural Africans welcome tourists and are happy to receive them. Tourists are a window to the rest of the world. Real tourists will give the locals true respect.
Boris, Lusu, Zambia

Tourism brings tremendous benefits to the economy for any country. But African government given the first priority not for tourism but how to stay in power for longer.This kind of mentality should be change in order African tourism to be useful.
Fesseha, Seattle, USA

Do you care to know who really benefits? Then, I will tell you. Most of the time, the tourists themselves benefit more than the local people; and a few who make the most use out of the business of tourism.
Victor Chambers, Nairobi

I think tourism has done more harm than good
Hankie Uluko, Lilongwe, Malawi
I think tourism has done more harm than good. Mostly, the tourists use their cash to exploit locals. They also use hotels which are owned by their countrymen. In that case money goes back to them.
Hankie Uluko, Lilongwe, Malawi

I travelled to Africa this summer and often felt ambivalent about giving small items to children. Are we being generous and spreading joy or simply encouraging begging? Our tour group probably added minimally to the local economies.
Dorothy Brown, Pennsylvania, USA

I would want to see a kind of tourism in my country that brings out our good culture show our positive side and how others can learn from us. When we do not check tourists who comes into our country they would leave behind bad lifestyles in our communities and local areas. We need to check that what they leave behind is in the interest of our country. It should not always be foreign currency, but we should protect our culture and project ourselves as Africans.
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso, Accra, Ghana

Many, but not all African game reserves, are actually lands stolen from marginal people
Pieter Smit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Many but not all African game reserves are actually lands stolen from marginal people like Maasai and other nomads and forest peoples. Often the displaced are facing abject poverty in rural slums. These parks should be blacklisted and boycotted by all decent people. Traditional land rights can be combined with game reserves as some good parks prove.
Pieter Smit, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cameroon is fondly referred to as 'Africa in miniature' because of its lush flora, fauna reserves and picturesque landscape. But we have little to show for it in terms of a buoyant tourism industry in spite of this potentials.Our road network needs to be revamped and measures put in place to ensure that tourists get the most out of their visits.Otherwise we will miss the proceeds of this industry.
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Bamenda, Cameroon

Tourism brings immense benefit to the economy of any country. Prostitution is the world's oldest profession and its eradication is impossible hence the need for proper regulation by various governments. Tourism is beneficial to all if managed well.
Nduka Tolefe, Hague, Netherlands

In no case has tourism led to the development of Morocco
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco
In Morocco there are people who benefit from tourism, like craftsmen and merchants who sell the handiwork. But tourists do also bring a lot of waste with them. Sometimes tourism does lead to prostitution, but in no case has it led to the development of Morocco.
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco

Both the tourists and the countries they visit benefit!
Gady Mwamba Museka, Lusaka, Zambia

In Rwanda we have many who come for seeing the remains of 1994 genocide, but should we be proud of that? On the other hand everyone benefits because sometimes we get new friends from those who come to view our prime sites.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Rwandan in Cameroon

Most African countries lack a vibrant and solid infrastructure hence the inability of tourism to grow. Tourism is a wonderful employment booster, foreign exchange earner and allows for a meeting point of our different world cultures and must be encouraged by all governments as it breeds understanding amongst the world's peoples.
Nduka Tolefe, Hague, Netherlands

Liberia would love to see the long coastal beaches, high mountains in its hinter lands be developed to attract tourists. Our reserved forests in the south eastern part that have lots of strange trees and animals. Tourism in itself is good for the communities because it helps to develop their infrastructure, namely school, market places, hospitals etc.
Joe Noutoua Wandah, Liberian in Accra

In Kenya, tourism is among the top foreign revenue earners. Contrary to what the situation should be, revenue from tourism finds it's way into pockets of a few individuals. Communities living around National Game Parks and Reserves continue to be in conflict with animals. The Government should be in a position to put up security measures to protect human being from animals, if this is the least they could do. If the management of local wildlife is left in the hands of the local communities, there may be hope for direct benefit and probably a peaceful existence between animals and humans.
Terah Kipchiris, Frostburg, MD

Africa is yet to get the benefit of her tourist potential despite her rich culture and tradition. Our food is one example, most Europeans strive not to eat junk food and envy Africans who are still able to eat natural food. But where do our tourist guides direct them? Your guess is good! To continental food stores where the food does not even taste as well as that prepared by Europeans.
Ojubo Ikun, Osogbo Nigeria

Many African countries have not invested on the tourism sector. If the government can develop the tourism sector it will generate income for the state and it citizens as well. My perturbation is that our tourist use these sites as a breeding ground for prostitution. Tourists come and exploit our local resources leaving the indigenous people poor and badly oriented.
Eric Mbumbouh, Bamenda,Cameroon

Tourism could fetch Africa huge foreign exchange if well harnessed, but unfortunately, it is being neglected and its potential under-utilised. Africa should develop the vast tourism potential that abounds in the continent, especially exotic sites and her beautiful cultural attires.
Ashipa James Olashupo, Abuja, Nigeria

My south Sudan is endowed with natural beauties like the mighty Nile river, mountains and even the wide culture which can fetch revenue for a country that has been torn apart by war. Tourism is okay. Locals can benefit from it through employment from would be investors,so i ask potential investors to come and invest in south Sudan.
Delu Juma, Juba, Sudan

From my experience in Benin City I would say that tourism could be of immense benefit to local people rather than exploitative. I used to see local people making a lot of money from tourists who take photos of bronze and ivory which the ancient Benin Town is renowned for. They also earned some hard currency in the process. I think it is a sector Africa must not ignore if we are to go beyond monolithic dependence on natural resources as our only major source of foreign exchange and development.
Johnny Bob, Uyo,Nigeria

Tourism is good for Africa. Calabar in Nigeria is fast becoming a tourist place for the world. This is very good for the state. Other states in Nigeria are developing their hotspots too. I think this is very good for the economy. The negative impression some people have about Africa can be changed through tourism.
Victor Owo, Eket, Nigeria

Africa does not necessarily need to promote its tourist sites, the sites promote themselves. It only took one visitor to visit the source of the River Nile in 1800's making it a major historical and tourism site today. Though the tourism industry has tried to provide employment to some of the people among the local communities, it seems most of the money goes into constant rehabilitation of the main roads in some of the districts.
Prossy Nannyombi, Uganda

Read a section of your comments below:

In Nigeria, not much is being done about tourism as the government's focus is on oil
Omorodion Osula

Without mincing words, tourism will be a great source of income to many Africans who are unemployment or without any means of livelihood. Half bread they say is better than none. In Nigeria, no much is being done about tourism as the government's focus is on the black gold (Oil). A lot of the tourist attractions are not properly cared for. Take the case of the Benin Moat in Edo state which can only be compared with the great wall of China, is now a refuse dump and people are now building houses around it. Since there are few or no industries at all in most African countries, tourism will be a life line.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

There are many tourists coming to Kenya every year but the communities living around tourist destinations such as the Maasai Mara and along the shores of Mombasa and Malindi are some of the poorest in the country. Local authorities and wildlife services should provide basic services such as boreholes, hospitals and schools for these people. After all tourists pay a lot of money to see the local communities as well.
Richard Okech, Nairobi, Kenya

From an economic standpoint, tourism is beneficial. Ultimately though, the extent of the benefit depends on the economic structure of the host country. For example, if the hotels and resorts are mostly foreign owned and local tour operators have bank accounts abroad where they transfer their profits then the economic effects of tourism would be severely diminished. The outflow of money will prohibit the emergence of an integrated, dynamic and sustainable tourism industry. In such a scenario the environmental and social costs of tourism will outweigh any economic benefit.
Marc Taslimi, Toronto, Canada

Tourism can be destructive to the locals especially when they are poor. I was at the tourist seaside town of Kribi in Cameroon and it was a disgusting sight to see very old Western men cuddling teenage Cameroonian girls along the long nice sandy beaches.
Fred A, Nijmegen, Netherlands

The locals learn a lot from these tourists, mainly their cultures, like kissing each other in public
Allanie Njateni

I truly believe that tourism benefits Africa. Tourists spend their money buying food, curios and other items. Most of the time they bring foreign currencies which are scarce in Africa. Yes, there are several tourists coming to Africa with evil mind such as buying cannabis and engaging in prostitution with young girls and boys. Even the locals learn a lot from these tourists, mainly their cultures like kissing each other in public. In our culture that is a taboo. I have been a tourist within my home country visiting national parks and Lake Malawi.
Allanie Njateni, Mtengowanthenga, Dowa, Malawi

I recently spent a year travelling by road from the Gambia in west Africa to Mozambique in East Africa. This trip included more than 20 African countries, in each of which I spent an average of three weeks. Wherever there were tourist options aimed at affluent Westerners, the cultural environment was clearly perverted. Prostitution inevitably accompanies boatloads of Western visitors. Naturally, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these were generally aimed at small groups of independent or environmentally minded people and many of those have trouble making money.
Nathaniel Calhoun, New York, USA

African countries are not doing enough to benefit from their tourism potentials. If carefully planned, they could develop the service industry which will boost the economy and help to alleviate poverty. However, the trade-off will be the upsurge of prostitution and paedophilia.
Ouborr Kutando, Ghana

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