Kigali: Presenting Burundi as a case study on tourism and development, the eighth annual ATLAS Africa conference heard on Monday that bringing tourists to this post-conflict country will be a long road of development and marketing to the region and world.

Marina Novelli and Carmen Nibigira presented their findings from their study at the conference, “Tourism in a Post-Conflict Situation of Fragility,” which published last year.

The study examines Burundi, as a fragile country recovering from a long civil war. Tourism is low, and the researchers looked at the challenges to local tourism and how to overcome them.

Marina Novelli, is a leader in tourism and development at the University of Brighton in England. She researches tourism policy and planning with a focus on the developing world.

Carmen Nibigira is a Burundian doctoral student in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department at Clemson University in the United States. Her research focuses on human resource development in developing counties and the effect of politics on tourism.

“Many tourists are afraid to travel to Burundi for security concerns,” Nibigira said. Civil unrest can damage a country’s reputation for years, discouraging tourists. Yet tourism can be a great way to grow jobs and revenue in newly peaceful nations.

Tourism is like a tree, Novelli said. She described the benefits of tourism as the fruits, with employment and poverty alleviation as major ones. The tree’s roots are the infrastructure, safety and national policies that make the country safe, supportive and attractive to tourists.

Tourism is about more than just a beautiful destination, it’s also about improving human resources, Novelli said. « You can have the most beautiful natural resources, but if you don’t have the people supporting it, or understanding the value of it, very little can be done, » she said.

In order to improve tourism in a post-conflict country like Burundi, work needs to happen across the board. « The reality is that capacity building needs to happen at every single level, » Novelli said.

While Rwanda has many similarities with Burundi, including a similar culture, shared language and a post-conflict recovery period, Burundi’s peace agreement is fairly recent.

« We have to take into account that the peace process only really started in 2005, » Nibigira said. « We are taking the steps, baby steps, hoping we will make it one day. » (End)

Source : Marnews

Building tourism in post-conflict Burundi

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