Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 57



Feature
shopping, for instance,” says Snyman. “Or they drive
secondary employment through hiring people for
childcare, or to tend their livestock while they work. Or
they’re sending their children to school.”
The survey, conducted in South Africa, Botswana,
Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, found that
staff were earning, on average, US$278 dollars per
month – which flowed to direct dependents, but then
also continued to circulate within the local economy, and
stimulated other employment opportunities.
Snyman, who works with private tourism operator
Wilderness Safaris in various capacities, included some
of this organisation’s lodges in her surveys.
“If you were to extrapolate the findings from the lodge
staff that I interviewed, to encompass all 683 people
employed at the places where I did the research, that
means that 4 781 people are downstream beneficiaries
of those pay cheques.”
“This has a huge economic impact. These wages help
to build human capital in rural areas where there aren’t
many other economic opportunities,” she says.
However, in terms of the development implications of
tourism and its potential to help create educational and
economic prospects for these far-flung communities,
Snyman maintains that it is still important for
civil society organisations, the private sector and
government to invest in capacity-building within these
communities, so that they can become equal and wellequipped partners in tourism ventures.
This is key, particularly if tourism ventures want to bring
local communities into partnership arrangements in
running lodges and concessions.
“If we want people to thrive in businesses like this, we
need to be sure we don’t try to get local communities to
run before they can walk. People need to be trained in
bookkeeping, management and accounting. They need
to understand the industry; for instance that if someone
spends US$400 a night, that isn’t a clean US$400 profit;
expenses need to be covered first.”
Individuals hoping to work in the sector need to
understand the role of marketing and communication,
as well. Snyman’s observation is that many development
projects in this sector don’t invest enough in this sort of
capacity-building in their development work.
‘Inclusivity’: the new ‘sustainable tourism’
These downstream benefits of tourism can be measured
in clear economic terms, but the social, environmental
and political impacts are also key to driving ‘inclusive
growth’ for the rural communities getting involved in
tourism.
“The term ‘inclusive growth’ is a relatively new one in
the tourism sector,” Snyman explains, maintaining that
it has gained traction recently as other terms, such as
‘pro-poor’, ‘responsible tourism’ and
‘sustainable tourism’ have lost their
momentum.
“An example of the social
benefits would be the
improved infrastructure
and services that come
to an area when, for
instance, a new lodge
is built. Often, when
tourism comes into
an area, the roads are
upgraded, and mobile
phone networks
come into the area.
Sometimes you even
have clinics being built.”
Local residents can also
benefit from the education
that might come as people are
trained up in aspects of tourism, such
as lodge management or bookkeeping.
Others might benefit from the empowerment that
comes with being part of joint ventures or becoming
tourism operators themselves.
Inclusion from an environmental perspective could
be because land is now conserved, and isn’t used for
mining or agriculture. There might also be a reduction
in poaching as communities see the benefit of
conservation, meaning animal numbers might improve.
“If water sources inside a park are well-conserved,
that can improve water quality outside the park, where
communities extract water from rivers, for instance.”
Sectors need to work together
But tourism in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is being held back, largely by
failures in other sectors.
“The problems that operators have with travellers’ flight
schedules, for instance, originate in the transport sector,”
Snyman argues.
Meanwhile, problems such as poor communications
originate in the information and communications
technology (ICT) arena; and visitor visa hurdles must
be resolved by member countries’ home affairs
departments. These problems with infrastructure,
transport, and visas and customs policies are all
inhibiting growth in the sector.
Resolve those, Snyman argues, and tourism across
the region will take off, bringing with it the potential
to meet some of the region’s poverty-alleviation and
development challenges.
By Leonie Joubert, freelance science writer. Images by
Wilderness Safaris.
Zero hunger, sustainable cities and responsible consumption 52





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