ADVOCACY PROGRAM ON THE STAGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ECO-TOURISM COMMUNITY VENTURE: BUILDING AWARENESS, UNDERSTANDING AND ACTION
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS
The local community and the public in general have a low understanding of the concept of eco-tourism and how it can fuel local livelihood diversification for increased economic income and reduce reliance on state provided income which had been dwindling in Seychelles with the recent economic crisis. With the desire of the present Government Policies 2017 to increase Seychellois stake-holding in the tourism sector, it is evident that the only way those local communities can get an entry point in that ‘demarche’ is through eco tourism. Other viable tourism entrepreneurships in Seychelles are way out of the pocket bracket of many Seychellois, whilst there is a great desire of many to do enter into such undertakings. Eco-tourism ventures thus are really the one and only entry points where individual Seychellois can tap into the tourism sector and with the appropriate support grow over the years to become profitable businesses.
It is thus necessary to improve local people’s understanding of the value of local eco-tourism ventures through various awareness and advocacy activities.
At the end of the project we expect many new ecotourism ventures to be in the implementation stages with the technical assistance of TESS.
On-going advocacy and awareness building programs will be carried out using various educational materials produced within this project. Other results will include leadership training and media programs on eco tourism.
It had been identified that there are three distinct and consistent stages that communities pass through in the process of developing a community-based eco-tourism enterprise. Step one involves Awareness building; step two furthers Understanding, and step three sees the community move into Action.
Through the proposed project TESS will use the funds to undertake awareness and understanding programs to educate the local communities about the principles and underlying components of an eco tourism venture. Many homes and small industries presently in Seychelles have the potential to develop into an eco tourism venture and reap benefits from the tourism sector. The project will implement sensitization activities to raise awareness within the communities to emancipate their conscience that they may already be undertaking an eco tourism venture that they may now take to another level and make profitable. Visits to on-going eco tourism ventures and lessons learnt in the undertakings will be done with selected proposals and potential eco tourism ventures. These will be done concurrently with seminars on eco tourism and the production of a small guide on “How to Set Up an Eco-tourism Community Venture in Seychelles” with the inputs of those participating.
Further capacity building and networking will then be undertaken with identified ventures to ensure sustainability.
This project will introduce a 1 year program that will kick start a longer term process to sensitize the public and educate the local communities about eco tourism ventures and their benefits to get the whole community involved in sustainable livelihood activities.
BENEFICIARIES OF THE PROJECT
The community at large in Seychelles is expected to benefit from the sensitization campaign. It is expected that the project will start gauging eco tourism potentials of small scale activities in the Anse Royale District and then diversify within the south region of the island and into other districts.
The project strategies will bring about greater understanding of eco tourism ventures. With this we hope that people will want to develop their ongoing ventures into an eco tourism activity to sustain their livelihoods. The project will also develop and enhance existing capacities of practitioners and community members to network and reap more benefits through complementary activities.