Description of Challenge
Governments get excited about mass tourism to boost GDP. Local communities generally suffer as a result. How can tourism and local communities live with each other with benefit to both? The Gambian government’s tourism policy is increasingly based on the promotion of eco-tourism. Coastal villages are likely to see eco-tourism as a way of generating local jobs and income. At the same time the ecology of coastal areas is being devastated by deforestation and tourists will not visit such places.
“Responsible tourism brings discerning travellers together with local communities to their mutual benefit and delight”
The Ecovillage Design Education course (EDE) is a wonderful way to promote eco-tourism. The social, cultural, economic and ecological potential that exists within coastal villages brings new and bigger visions for participants. Sandele Eco-Retreat hosted a second EDE for participants from 10 coastal villages. The participants decided to form PeCEN – “The People’s Coast Ecovillage Network”). It was emphasised that eco-tourism is just one of many possible local businesses and that it could bring benefits to their community. The identification of criteria to judge responsible tourism investors was another outcome. PeCEN will continue as a “community of communities” and the vision now is to translate EDE videos and other materials into local languages and to hold an EDE in each of the 10 villages.