Marking the annual International Day of the African Child, the African Tourism Board had explained the role which tourism plays in the development of African children welfare, directly and indirectly.
While the relationship between tourism and child welfare is complex, there are several ways in which the tourism industry can contribute to the well-being of children in Africa, African Tourism Board (ATB) President Cuthbert Ncube said through a message.
“Tourism is a major contributor to economic growth in many African countries. Increased tourism revenue can lead to more public resources being available for social services, including education, healthcare, and child protection,” Mr. Ncube said.
“When governments invest in these areas, it can lead to better overall welfare for children”, he added.
Tourism industry creates jobs and employment opportunities for local communities, which can have a positive impact on child welfare and when parents have stable employment and income, they are better able to provide for their children’s basic needs, mostly food, shelter and education, said the ATB President.
He said that many tourism initiatives in Africa focus on community-based tourism, which aims to involve and empower local communities in the planning, management and benefits accrued of tourism. This approach can lead to improved infrastructure, access to education and healthcare services for children in those communities.
“Tourism can also play a role in raising awareness about the challenges that African children face. Many tourists are drawn to Africa for its rich cultural heritage, wildlife and natural beauty. As they learn more about the continent and its people, they may be more inclined to support initiatives aimed at improving child welfare”, Mr. Ncube noted.
On tourism and travel philanthropy for African children, the ATB President said that tourists and tourism companies may engage in philanthropy or volunteer work to support projects aimed at improving the lives of children in Africa.
“This could include funding for schools, orphanages and healthcare facilities or participating in hands-on projects like building classrooms or teaching English”, he pointed out.
“However, it’s important to note that tourism can also have negative effects on child welfare in some cases. For instance, an increase in sex tourism can lead to the exploitation of children”, he said.
Furthermore, tourism development can sometimes lead to the displacement of communities, which can disrupt children’s lives and access to vital services.
In order to maximize the positive impact of tourism on African children’s welfare, it is crucial for governments, tourism operators and local communities to work together to promote responsible and sustainable tourism practices that prioritize the well-being of children and their families.
The ATB President highlighted other key areas for children welfare and development in Africa which are education, health and welfare of children in several ways of which tourism can contribute.
While the direct impact of tourism on these areas may vary depending on the region and the specific tourism activities, the overall contributions can be significant.
Tourism revenue can provide governments with additional resources to invest in education including building schools, providing educational materials and training teachers.
In some cases, tourism operators may also actively support education by sponsoring schools, offering scholarships or partnering with local educational institutions to improve the quality of education.
On increased access to education, tourism can lead to the development of infrastructure such as roads and transportation networks then making it easier for children in remote areas to access educational facilities.
Community-based tourism initiatives may also provide opportunities for local children to learn new skills, languages or gaining exposure to different cultures and ideas.
The revenue generated from tourism can also be allocated to improving healthcare services such as building clinics, hospitals and providing essential medical supplies and equipment.
In some cases, tourists or tourism companies may engage in philanthropic efforts to support local healthcare initiatives like funding vaccination campaigns or providing medical training to local healthcare providers.