UNWTO international donors’ conference is looking to mobilize funds to support sustainable tourism development in cross-border parks and protected areas spanning ten countries in West Africa (Dakar, Senegal, May 27-28, 2011).
The project, designed to unlock the tourism potential of seven CPAs stretching across ten West African countries, aims to maximize tourism’s role in poverty reduction and economic development, improve the lives of local communities, provide jobs and income, and protect the region’s biodiversity.
The West Africa Parks Project is based on a regional approach to tourism development. The ten participating countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Sierra Leone – are working together to maximize the potential of the areas they share by reinforcing regional integration and collaboration. Through such cooperation, countries can jointly address issues of common concern, promote the parks and their natural assets on a regional basis, and increase preservation possibilities and socio-economic development through cross-border tourism.
A portfolio of funding opportunities will be presented at the conference to interested donors and investors, outlining major funding requirements. Examples include providing equipment and training to park wardens to prevent poaching and enhance conservation; improving access to clean water and sustainable energy; developing micro finance mechanisms for local tourism entrepreneurs; and implementing micro enterprise support systems, especially for women and youth.
The portfolio is based on a study undertaken by UNWTO and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and funded by the Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) Foundation and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), to assess the viability of sustainable tourism development in the CPAs and make them “market ready.”
The conference, organized by UNWTO and the OIC, in cooperation with the government of Senegal, is open to international funding institutions, bilateral and international cooperation organizations, private donors, and development agencies.