UNWTO implements the first two seminars of its series of training on tourism and biodiversity in West and Central Africa

With the rapid growth of the tourism sector in West and Central Africa, tourism has become an important pillar for local economies in many destinations in the Region. Challenges in preserving the biodiversity in an appropriate and quality environment may in the long run affect visitors´ satisfaction which ultimately would result in lower income generation from tourist related activities. Consequently, UNWTO in collaboration with Chimelong, has launched a capacity building programme in West and Central Africa involving 5 countries and for which the first beneficiaries, who are Gabon, Benin and Niger, have already benefited from it. 

Seminar on tourism and biodiversity in West and Central Africa

Home to 13 national parks covering 11% of the country, Gabon has a rich biodiversity including species of global conservation concern such as forest elephants, lowland gorillas and sea turtles. As a result, the country has been identified by UNWTO as the first country to host the seminar on capacity building on tourism and biodiversity, taking place June 20-22. Similarly, Niger and Benin, home to the Park W the largest territory of protected savanna in West Africa, have been identified for the second training from July 11-13, involving participants from both countries. The seminars are part of the UNWTO/Chimelong initiative, aiming at enhancing natural resources management for improved social and economic benefit to local communities.

Taking place in the Pongara National Park, 20 minutes away from Libreville (Gabon) by boat and the W National Park, 2 hours away from Niamey (Niger), the seminars welcomed tourism and environment stakeholders from the public and private sector. In order to encompass all the challenges surrounding conservation in these countries, the participants were ranging from executives to employees of parks, hotels and tour operators; Gabon hosted 25 participants coming from different parts of Gabon, while Niger welcomed 36 participants coming from Benin and Niger.

The successful completion of this UNWTO/Chimelong initiative was facilitated by the support of each Ministry led by H.E. Mrs. Madeleine Berre Minister of Private Investment Promotion, Trade, Tourism and Industry in Gabon, H.E. Mr. Ahmet Botto, Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts in Niger and H.E. Mr. Ange N´Koue Minister of Tourism and Culture in Benin. The efforts put forward by these 3 governments in hosting these workshops highlights the importance given by them to the contribution of the tourism sector in their countries to socio economic development and biodiversity conservation.

Building up on this promising start, the last two seminars in the series will take place in the Republic of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo in October 2017.