The tourism value chain offers SMEs the opportunity to participate in trade by selling goods and services to hotels, restaurants, tour operators and a myriad of other service providers directly involved in tourism.
The panel discussed best practices to integrate local suppliers into tourism value chains, thereby supporting income generation in communities. They also explored developing country opportunities in new niche tourism offerings such as Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism.
A delegate from Tanzania observed that much of the discourse on tourism is focused on attracting long haul tourists: Regional tourism in Africa is the key to the sustainability of the sector. The challenges of intra-regional tourism in Africa were also noted: visa facilitation; logistics – it is easier to fly to other regions than within Africa. The continent may still need to focus on tourists with “the deepest pockets,” said Mr. Lamy, if it is to capture the most value addition. What matters is how much tourism spend remains in the local economy.
A good way to promote community-based tourism is to develop discrete strategies that can fit into the overarching policy for the sector. Dominica has adopted such an approach, and it can by replicated in other countries.