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Monday, 25 August 2008

Village tourism...

AFP reports on an old mining community in the Namibian desert that is slowly being resurrected by locals using innovative tourism. After a bleak period, the locals discovered the tourist appeal of a pre-historic cave painting in the nearby Dâureb mountain, and set themselves up as tourist guides, attracting foreigners to their tiny settlement in the desert. The role played by the government has been particularly critical :

....The mountain guides of Dâureb have joined some 50 other communities in a local initiative which the Namibian government has encouraged since 1995 -- to devolve authority over wildlife and tourism to local residents.

In these conservancies, which now cover some 15 percent of the country, the rights to exploit the resources are transferred to communities, increasing their income and increasing wildlife and conservation areas.

Training in history, geology, astronomy, management and ecology is provided thanks to a semi-private foundation.

The Namibian government, in a report published by the tourism ministry, said the project is "effective as a rural development strategy ... generating income for local communities, and providing new skills and expertise."

On the whole, conservancies provided an income of 26 million Namibian dollars (over two million euros, three million dollars) in 2006, compared to 600,000 Namibian dollars in 1998, of which more half comes from tourism and trophy hunting.

With Uis now attracting groups interested in ancient cultures from as far away as Europe, the town has begun to rise from the ashes, with almost 10,000 people who left after the tin mine closed now having returned....

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