UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) hosted the first of a two-part sustainable tourism, capacity building and networking program on 17 November 2021. The training, which was attended by regional tourism authorities, museum curators and World Heritage Site Managers, was delivered online and centered around the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit, with a specific focus on the first topic “Understanding Tourism at your Destination.”
In his remarks, UNESCO ROSA Culture Programme Specialist Mr. Francisco Gomez Duran said the interactive online learning discussion would develop a visual representation of the situational analysis that could be used for further resource mobilization, showing how the World Heritage Journeys programme with UNESCO’s support can address the issues identified in the situation analysis.
Participants from all nine countries covered by ROSA (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) were taken through the UNESCO World Heritage Center Visitor Management Assessment Tool (VMAT), a new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit. The VMAT assesses the state of current site governance and visitor management within the bounds of the Four Pillars of Sustainability, which are: 1) Sustainability Management; 2) Social & Economic; 3) Cultural and 4)Environmental. Additionally, it offers users a blueprint for developing visitor management.
Attendees will be joining the next workshop on 26 November 2021. This next gathering will explore the second topic of the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit, “Developing a Strategy for Progressive Change.” Connecting the aims of the first topic and the one to be delivered on the 26th, a representative from Botswana highlighted the fact that resources and knowledge are not equally available or distributed by country, destination, or site, thus the reason regional conversations about sustainable tourism practices at UNESCO designated sites are important.
Tourism is an increasingly major source of growth, employment and income for many countries worldwide, and within the Southern African region, this represents huge opportunities for sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation. The World Heritage Journeys of Southern Africa Project is designed to bring together tourism and World Heritage authorities from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and to introduce UNESCO’s World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme and the various tools and case studies available to them.