from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – SIX African rural areas have been named among the World Tourism Organisation’s (WTO’s) Best Tourism Villages for 2021.
The villages chosen at the WTO General Assembly in Madrid, Spain are Lemorne and Old Grand Port (both Mauritius), Nkotsi (Rwanda), Olergesailie (Kenya), Sidi Kaouki (Morocco) and Wonchi in Ethiopia.
They have been celebrated as the best examples of villages embracing tourism to provide opportunity and drive sustainable development.
Additionally, WTO, the United Nations’ tourism agency, will work with the villages of Fuwah (Egypt), Oukaimeden (Morocco), Gasura (Rwanda) and Ruboni in Uganda, which are participating in the Upgrade Programme, featuring 20 villages.
WTO launched the Best Tourism Villages initiative to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
The 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions were granted the recognition in 2021.
All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative, transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Zurab Pololikashvili, WTO Secretary-General, said tourism could be a driver of social cohesion and inclusion by promoting a fairer distribution of benefits throughout the territory and empowering local communities.
“This initiative recognizes those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and well-being,” Pololikashvili said.
The Upgrade programme will benefit a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive the recognition.
These villages will receive support from WTO and its partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
– CAJ News