Development Of Community-Based Tourism Enterprises

Development Of Community-Based Tourism Enterprises



As we are all aware, conservation is highly dependent upon communities, which must have an incentive to protect their natural resources. Community Based Tourism Enterprise (CBTE) can serve as a strong incentive if the local communities especially those living around endangered biodiversity hot spots can have an equitable distribution of the benefits accruing from community-based tourism enterprises.

Despite the growth in popularity of experiential travel, much of Uganda’s tourism potential is untapped. The country has not fully utilized the appeal of its natural and cultural heritage and the ability this has to generate income and employment for local communities.

Uganda has much to offer the tourist outside the national parks in terms of its natural and cultural heritage, but this needs to be effectively captured and presented to tourists in a way that is authentic and engaging and structured in a way that is sustainable and provides direct economic benefits to local people.

Tourism in Uganda is dominated by wildlife viewing. People travel from all over the world to see lions, elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas and other charismatic mega fauna in the natural settings of the country’s national parks and forests. However, the ability for local communities surrounding national parks to benefit from this type of tourism is often limited. There is little value placed on preserving wildlife because community members do not benefit financially from tourism. Economic empowerment through community based tourism would create more career options, raise awareness of the value of cultural heritage and encourage greater appreciation amongst local people for the natural resources that bring tourism revenue to Uganda.

Africa Sustainable Tourism Care Foundation (ASTCF) in collaborate with local communities and key institutions in Uganda are working to develop Community Based Tourism Enterprise (CBTE) projects to enhance economic and sustainable livelihoods of local communities around tourism hubs in Uganda beginning with Kibale National Park near the Fort Portal in western Uganda.

a) Community Based Tourism Entrepreneurship Training Program
About 85 per cent of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas and the vast majority still live below the national rural poverty line. The majority perceive their villages and homesteads as underprivileged and themselves as without opportunity. Due to a lack of sufficient information and exposure, many people do not see the potential in their environment, indigenous knowledge, and culture. The unfortunate trend is that many immigrate to towns and cities in search of economic opportunities, leaving behind women and the elderly.

At ASTCF, we link tourism to conservation, cultural heritage, and sustainable rural development to enhance livelihoods and enrich Uganda’s tourism product. ASTCF initiated a Community Based Tourism Entrepreneurship Training Program where we help to build the capacity for local people (local village communities) by providing tailor-made training and expertise and other consultancy services to assist village communities and entrepreneurs to identify and analyze their natural, historical and cultural heritage resources, and to develop them into appropriate, viable and sustainable new tourism attractions, facilities, services and experiences that will meet the needs and expectations of various market sectors. We seek out villages where we can identify a strong need for sustainable tourism, and where we can help create the necessary support structures, such as village committees to organize and manage the tourism enterprise, so that tourism brings long-term benefits to the entire community.

For example ASTCF intends to reach out to village communities that are located within the tourism circuits of Uganda to develop small tourism guesthouses (new-builds in traditional style or renovations of traditional homesteads) whereby selected homes are upgraded to a level where they can host tourists and by improving household environment to a level at which rural homesteads can attract and host responsible travelers who seek to interact with nature and culture. The homesteads become part of the ASTCF “Homestead Tourism” program, giving visitors the opportunity to share the extraordinary experience of these rural achievers.

The training program also helps the village communities to include tourism in their homestead activities and to acquire homestead management skills and micro enterprises skills and knowledge on how to handle visitors, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and waste disposal thus adding value to their local assets by improving household environment to a level at which rural homesteads can attract and host responsible travelers who seek to interact with nature and culture. Through this training, the community becomes aware of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism, and this foster community based conservation of these resources and provides cross-cultural exchange between hosts and visitors.

ASTCF offers training on the following topics.

  • Community Tourism as a tool for income generation and poverty alleviation in rural areas
  • Agri -Tourism – Linking tourism to agriculture
  • Cultural Heritage – Linking tourism to local people and their cultures
  • Heritage Trails – Developing scenic and historical trails
  • Handicrafts and Tourism – Promoting ethnic designed crafts and tapping indigenous knowledge
  • Homestead Tourism – Linking tourism to rural hospitality, local lifestyles, and village environment as attractions
  • Support to small and emerging local tourism businesses in rural Uganda
  • Conservation of unique rural features and historic sites as community tourism attractions
  • Environmental conservation – Encouraging the communities to plant trees and the use of Biogas
  • Sanitation and Primary Health Care - hygiene and sanitation, and waste disposal management