UNWTO on the Ground / Cameroon: Developing ecotourism products along the Kribi coastline

Coastal areas around the world provide an important tourism resource. At the same time, land, water and other natural resources are often scarce around coasts, and the future of coastal tourism is dependent on coastal management issues such as waste management, coastal erosion and biodiversity conservation. These issues can be addressed by generating resources from sustainable tourism activities to support conservation and management and by raising awareness and facilitating community engagement in conservation and management.

Against this background, UNWTO is working with UNEP and UNIDO to ensure the development of sustainable forms of tourism along the African coasts through the GEF funded Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) Project. Present in nine countries in West and East Africa, the objective of COAST is to “demonstrate and support the adoption of best practice strategies for sustainable tourism to reduce the degradation of marine and coastal environments of trans-boundary significance”.


Lying on the Gulf of Guinea Coast, Kribi is a beach resort and sea port in Cameroon, renowned for its white beaches, waterfalls, mangroves and rich wildlife – on a lucky day you may be able to spot both manatees, dolphins and turtles. At the same time, the area is at the centre of many industrial development projects and rapid urban growth, increasing the pressures on the coastal and marine ecosystems.

As part of the COAST Project, UNWTO’s Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Povert (ST-EP) initiative, is currently supporting Cameroon’s Ministry of Tourism and Leisure (MINTOUL) in developing ecotourism products and protect the Kribi coastline – thus safeguarding the environment while creating sustainable livelihoods for the local population.

 

With active consultation of communities, private sector and local stakeholders, UNWTO has assisted in the drafting of sustainable management plans for several sites in the region, particularly exposed to environmental threats such as inappropriate waste management and coastal erosion.

One of these sites is Londji, the largest fisherman village and fish market in Cameroon. Once known as “the most beautiful bay of Cameroon”, the environment in Londji has long suffered from inappropriate waste management and bad infrastructure. With the support of the COAST project, Londji is well on its way to leave its reputation as a “dirty village” behind and becoming the next ecotourism destination in the country.

       

By engaging the local population, COAST has resulted in the creation of a community group, responsible for coordinating the development of new ecotourism products and cleaning the beaches in the area. The group recently became a certified community tourism operator under the name of “Londji Ecotourism Group”. Through creation and promotion of sustainable tourism products such as mangrove nature trails, walks and boat trips to unexplored beaches, tourism has brought added value to the environment and brought significant benefits for the local economy in Londji – demonstrating in practice that environmental conservation and economic development does not have to be mutually exclusive.

 

Further reading:

http://sdt.unwto.org/en/content/coast-project

http://step.unwto.org/en/news/2013-02-18/kribi-south-cameroun-developing-ecotourism-products-coast-kribi

http://coast.iwlearn.org/en/about

2nd COAST Project Newsletter