Project title: KONSO COMMUNITY TOURISM PROJECT
Current status: Ongoing Concluded
Duration (est.)/dates: March 2007 – January 2011
Partner entities: Konso Special Woreda Tourism, Parks and Hotels Desk (KTPHD); Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia; Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPRS); Tourism Parks and Hotels Agency of Southern Region (TPHA); Ethiopia Tour Operators’ Association; Ethiopia Tourism Association; SNV Ethiopia
Source(s) of Funding: ST-EP Foundation
Executing Agency: Konso Special Woreda Tourism, Parks and Hotels Desk (KTPHD)
Main project objectives: to organize a quality tourism offer in Konso that will enhance the quality of the visitor experience and increase the number of tours that stop in Konso , and to contribute to improve the quality of life of the residents of Konso through the creation of employment and income generating activities and to preserve the unique cultural heritage.
Konso is the name of the ethnic community that inhabits the area, which is located strategically as the gateway to the lower Omo Valley. Many attractions are present in Konso and a number of tour operators are operational in the Southern Circuits. However, due to an unclear and disorganized tourism offer, most of the tourists did not stay in Konso, and the community barely benefited from tourism.
Activities were divided in various components.
- Development of a Tourism Information Centre (TIC): The TIC was completed using local hand labour and local materials and construction works were finalized in the beginning of 2010. The Centre was equipped with office materials and photos of Konso tourism assets are displayed. The Centre opened its doors at the end of 2010. Four members of KTPHD received trainings (over 15 days) in tourism planning and management, community consultation, computers, and project management and participated in 2 exchange visits to Tanzania.
- Awareness raising with local communities: Meetings were organized with over 15,000 community members and students from 12 different villages. Topics like tourism and its impacts, heritage conservation, development and revenue sharing and hospitality were widely discussed.
- Development and diversification of the visitor offer: During the consultation meetings, different activities that could enable communities to participate in tourism were identified, e.g. the provision of food and drinks, homestays, performances, handicrafts, guided excursions, etc. Moreover, and after consultation with various tour operators, three towns (Gesergio, Mechake and Dokatu) were prioritized to host tourist camp sites.
- Promotion: A website was developed www.konsotourism.gov.et to promote the destination and a brochure and posters werre drafted and distributed to main tourism stakeholders in Ethiopia. Information on the project was also shared on the radio.
Main project outputs/deliverables:
- There is a strong team at TIC: The team of KTPHD was successful in lobbying with the Regional Government for the redistribution of 70% of the admission charge to the local communities of 12 surrounding villages (funds are disbursed in equal parts). It also managed to collect several private donations and supported the local communities on their selection of social projects to implement as well as the local entrepreneurs on how to deliver good service to the customers. Moreover, the KTHPD team was strongly involved in the collection of data for the process of registering Konso as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The offer is diversified: The handicraft producers started using new designs in their production processes and several improvements were by the accommodation facilities (e.g. clean toilets, menu with information on the dishes available, waiters using gawan uniforms, etc). Local communities started providing food and drinks to tourists and there were also shops that started selling handicrafts to tourists. Cultural performances were also showcased to visitors. Some private investors built the Strawberry Fields Lodge and the Kanta Lodge in Konso, increasing considerably the accommodation capacity in Konso.
- The number of visitors is increasing: In 2010, 8,293 foreigners and 1,172 domestic tourists visited Konso. This figure is considerably higher than the numbers registered in previous years, which shows an increase in the interest for the destination.
Remarks: The project was successful in awakening the interest of tour operators and donors in Konso and contributed to increase the number of visitors, which has surpassed the initial target of 3,000 a year. Moreover, linkages with other ongoing projects were created and thus results are being upscaled.