Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tourism for rural development, also an option for developing countries ?

Farm diversification into touristic activities, such as for example agro-tourism, has been recognized as an opportunity to diversify their income in Europe. Why could this concept not work in developing countries and lift rural poor out of poverty?

This week end, i joined a group of young and motivated people that took up the challenge to make tourism work for development in a small gurage village in Ethiopia.Two trips have already taking place.

Flyer for the next trip
The idea is to offer the tourist an opportunity to immerse into Ethiopian rural life, participating in every day rural life. Tourists pay these services, giving the opportunity for the locals to diversify their income and therefore increase their resilience.

Today, the group is not only preparing the 3rd trip but also starting to think about how to make sure that the value added of tourism is spread into the whole community. In other term, how can we make tourism work to become a sustainable, market based tool to promote bottom up rural development?  This is crucial to insure that tourism does not only benefits the few who provide services to the tourist but to the whole community and avoid that disparities in the community increases, making the poor poorer.

It is pretty challenging to find an efficient way to share benefits of tourism to the whole community. Maybe in the Ethiopian case one might make use of existing informal institutions. It is definitely an amazing challenging and interesting topic from which you are likely to hear more about on this blog.

Have a look at the website of the inside travel for more information about next trip.

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