An observation: the boom of tourism in the countries of the south maintains the inequalities in development.
In attaining 12% of the world GNP and 8% of employment (200 million people) tourism has become an essential activity in the world economy and continues to grow. In fact, the number of tourists was 700 million in 2002 and the International Bureau of Tourism anticipates that this number will increase to 1.6 billion travelers by the year 2020.
Since the early 1980’s, the southern nations have considerably increased their participation in international tourism. It is undeniable that tourism offers new perspectives in development and job creation in the regions that are poor with weak infrastructure. In certain forms, tourism can also constitute an essential element of growth for developing nations.
However, the northern nations continue to be the principle beneficiaries: airline companies, tour operators, hotel chains…
Tourism too often develops in spite of the local populations in the regions where tourism is poorly managed: hyper concentration of infrastructures, increase in prices, rural exodus, precarious employment, child labour, prostitution… in fact tourism tends to create an in-balance between tourists and locals, and gives a stereotyped image of the country visited.
In order to combat this type of , new models of alternative tourism have developed over the past few years such as responsible tourism. This is the concept that we would like to promote through this travel guide.
Responsible tourism is “ a group of activities and services proposed by tour operators to responsible travelers, and elaborated by the communities visited. These communities participate in the evolution and the definition of these activities” (Source: Association of equitable and supportive tourism).
The two fundamental elements that define responsible tourism :
- It is created and managed by a “community”: village, organisation, cooperative… It enables local economic development, diversification of revenue sources, and limits rural exodus.
- It enables direct exchange between the traveler and the locals : It is the locals and not the tour company who have decided to welcome the travelers in their village. The traveler discovers the realities of the country through dialogue with the locals.
Our objective: to promote the responsible tourism in Africa
With the intention to respect these principles, Baobab Guides has thus chosen hotels and quality activities, which are managed in a socially respectful manner and belong to the members of the local communities. This with the intention that tourism will have direct positive impact on the local economies.
Baobab Guides also seeks to reinforce intercultural exchange between local populations and tourists: hotels and activities highlighted in this guide are small scale in order to offer a more authentic human experience.
We are a social business
Contrary to associations, foundations, or other non-profit organisms who depend on external financing, a social business is a financially self sustaining entity.
This new form of economic activity has been brought to the spotlight by the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Yunus, also a pioneer in microcredit, whose goal was to propose an alternative to the current all for profit system, and in some ways, renewing capitalism, by bringing Man back to his central role.
The social business gives up it’s profits to diminish costs, and to the production of social advantages. It does not pay its leaders, instead, only reimburses them the investments made.
It is this economic model that we are developing, here at Baobab Guides; we seek to grow the social impact of our economic activities, in effect the principle beneficiaries of this guide are the local communities who are practicing equitable tourism. In addition, journalists, professors, and local students bring their contribution to the development of this guide in order to maintain the context of the project.