UNESCO’s Sustainable Cultural Tourism Strategy for Southern Africa gets thumps up
Over 60 stakeholders who attended the presentation of the UNESCO Sustainable Cultural Tourism Strategy (STCS) for Southern Africa on 8 March 2021 agreed that the strategy was well elaborated and captured the most important elements to support cultural tourism in the region.
Speaking during the online meeting, UNESCO Regional Director and Representative to SADC, Prof. Hubert Gijzen emphasised the importance of dialogue between culture and tourism stakeholders at sub-regional and national levels with a view to strengthen sustainable cultural tourism and contribute to sustainable development.
Professor Hubert Gijzen encouraged stakeholders in the meeting to make sure that the tourism strategy “builds on the cultural heritage of the region, builds on collaboration between member states, benefits the local communities and tourism that creates low impact on environment and contributes to environmental protection of nature and wildlife, and safeguards the Cultural heritage”.
The first session of the meeting spoke to the interconnectivity between Culture sector’s main mandates, namely world heritage sites; intangible cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries. Mr Farai Mpfunya (a UNESCO Expert) gave a presentation during this session, which emphasized the need to explore the cultural and creative products on offer and provide a “menu” which potential tourists can enjoy. This menu needs to consist of both natural and cultural heritage in the region. Mr Mpfunya, advocated for an integrated strategic plan across the region where cultural strategies across the region could be synchronised and be leveraged to enhance tourism.
UNESCO Culture Consultant, Ms. Mulekeni Ngulube gave an overview of the Sustainable Cultural Tourism Strategy for Southern Africa while Mr Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi, Regional Director of National Gallery of Zimbabwe guided the session on Situational Analysis. Mr Mathews Lambulira, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Tourism, Hospitality and Management at Mzuzu University from Malawi gave a synopsis of the strategy’s proposed pillars, objectives and activities.
Stakeholders agreed on the need for a strategy that guides countries to develop their own flagship projects connecting culture and tourism. Emphasis was given on the importance of a well-structured implementation plan. One participant noted that a strategy was as good as its implementation, and there was need for country specific projects.
The Strategy is designed to guide UNESCO ROSA’s technical support, assistance and advice to member states in the SADC region in exploiting their cultural and heritage resources for the development of cultural tourism and its contribution to sustainable development. It acknowledges and builds upon key tourism policy documents and strategies formulated by international, regional, sub-regional and national organisations. The meeting participants included SADC country representatives for the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, UNTWO, National Commissions for UNESCO, academic and critical partners and stakeholders interested in the strategy.