There had been many bumpy village tracks, meetings in chiefs’ houses, performances of traditional dancing and trial runs of visits for the Responsible Travel Company to get to this day.
(TRAVPR.COM) UNITED KINGDOM - August 31st, 2012 - There had been many bumpy village tracks, meetings in chiefs’ houses, performances of traditional dancing and trial runs of visits for the Responsible Travel Company to get to this day. With months of preparation, the big day finally took place when eight Community Representatives from villages around Southern Malawi came together to meet RSC guides and take part in an ecotourism training day.
Each Community Project Member shared their challenges of youth unemployment, the difficulty of getting their HIV positive community member’s access to ARV’s, and how community tourism might impact their rural communities.
Andrew Kayuni (RSC Head Guide) explained the effects community visits had on RSC clients, ‘It is the small things that they always talk about, the women collecting water from the river, the children shelling maize for the evening meal.’
The day finished with an open discussion of how community tourism could act as an additional income, generating activity for the village projects involved. Handled sensitively, it was agreed that this model tourism, where RSC tourists donate to the community project fund, offers a chance for everyone in the community to benefit.
The days success perhaps was best measured in the feedback from the members who attended the day.
Moses from Blantyre: “I feel like here with RSC we are like family members, we are supported.”
Andrew, RSC Head Guide. “ We see the company, clients and me as a guide, trying to responsibly look after the environment and also trying to make tourism reach local communities.”
Joseph from Mangochi. “I have been inspired. I have learnt what the communities role is in eco-tourism”
The Responsible Safari Company currently works with 5 community based organizations across Southern Malawi providing community visits to their guests and ensuring the benefits of tourism reach local communities.