Strathmore University’s Centre for Tourism and Hospitality (CTH), in collaboration with African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) hosted the 1st African Conference on Sustainable Tourism (ACoST) on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th October. The vibrant and enlightening conference hosted academia, trade professionals, students and other industry experts for a unique learning and networking opportunity.
Under the theme, Sustainability in Tourism, the conference focused on key topics that make tourism count to communities, ecosystems and businesses. These included; Community and Ecotourism entrepreneurship, Ecotourism and Biodiversity conservation, Hospitality and Tour operations for sustainable tourism, Wildlife legislation and sustainable tourism, and Education for sustainable development.
In her opening remarks, Ms Keziah Odemba – Assistant Director Ministry of Tourism, lauded the University for hosting such a conference, stating that this will be a step towards improving tourism. “Tourism can only prosper when companies engage the community. This conference is very important because tourism is growing fast,” she said.
In the keynote addresses, Dr. Brian Czech – President, Centre for the Advancement of the steady State Economy, USA, indicated that “sustainable tourism means, tourism sector operating within a steady state economy with GDP not exceeding carrying capacity.” He also gave an elaborate scenario on development of the economy comparing nature to humans. Mrs. Judy Kepher-Guna, Founder and Consultant, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda spoke about the Community and ecotourism entrepreneurship. In her address, she encouraged industry partners to include the community in their businesses giving them a sense of ownership. This sense of ownership she advised, will enable them to support the businesses, “we’ve made the community feel like beneficiaries rather than participants in the industry. Is Ecotourism a product?” Mrs. Agatha Juma – CEO, Kenya Tourism Federation discussed the role of private sector in sustainable tourism in Kenya. Encouraging the tourism business owners to work with the community, consequently getting to learn from them, she said “Investment can motivate conservation. Businesses can finance conservation and learn from communities.” To finalize on the keynote addresses was Dr. Rosie Trevelyan – Director, Tropical Biology Association, UK. In her remarks, Dr. Trevelyan urged the industry players to ensure Ecotourism is positively impacting biodiversity conservation in a measurable way.
The conference also had breakout sessions where the delegates were put in groups to discuss the key pertinent issues. Focusing on the key topics, the groups were able to engage with members of academia who presented their research papers, discussing matters that had been researched and possibilities of way forward.
Outside the conference hall, some tourism companies exhibited their products creating good opportunities for networking as well as business.
The two-day conference culminated in a Gala dinner – African theme that featured Kayamba Africa. Guests were entertained to lots of feasting and dancing.
For more information on ACoST click here.