Sustainable tourism is, for the tourism sector, the expression of sustainable development. It is a form of tourism that differs from traditional tourism in that it takes on more ethical concerns: economic development over the long term that is respectful of environmental and socio-cultural resources and of people (visitors, host populations, employees in the sector).
Aware that environmental quality is an important factor in competitiveness and must therefore be protected, sustainable tourism ensures the economic development and fulfilment of local populations (fair and stable remuneration), partners (decent working conditions) and travellers (authentic encounters with local populations, knowledge exchange).
In 1992, at the Rio Conference, the countries of the world committed themselves to “Agenda 21”: a programme effective from the beginning of the 21st century which would promote sustainable development and, by extension, sustainable tourism. It is to give concrete expression to this commitment that Côte d’Ivoire adopted an instrument in 1996 (and for 15 years): the PNAE-CI (National Environmental Action Plan).
Since then, the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts (MTA) has conducted studies for its implementation in Côte d’Ivoire.
As a result of these studies, Côte d’Ivoire has a tourism and handicrafts code, a tourism development fund (FDT), a support and promotion fund for handicrafts, airport boarding taxes, legislation for the protection of tourist areas, a one-stop shop and the “Côte d’Ivoire Tourism” exhibition.
Thus, the SODERTOUR, a state-owned company (decree n°2008-37 of 14 April 2008) which manages the development and promotion of tourism in the lakes region, organised from 16 to 18 December 2009, a reflection seminar with Moroccan experts in the sector. These very encouraging measures demonstrate the commitment of the State of Côte d’Ivoire to the implementation of this concept in our country.
The effective realization of fair and sustainable tourism in Côte d’Ivoire is not automatic, it requires as much a real will of the concerned public authorities, relevant choices, a set of voluntary and targeted measures as the participation of the actors of the sector and the community groups.
Sustainable tourism concerns the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts, the Ministries of the Environment, the Economy and Employment. In future issues, we will endeavour to show you what this terminology means.
(To be continued)