ACTSA, Action for Southern Africa was set
up in 1994 as the successor organisation to the Anit-Apartheid Movement in the
United Kingdom. ACTSA researches and campaigns on a variety of issues which
affect the Southern Africa region, for example aid, trade and debt and
In July 1997 ACTSA launched a major campaign, which is expected to run for many years to come - the campaign for People-First Tourism in Southern Africa.
Why Tourism ?
There are many potential economic and social benefits of tourism which, if carefully managed can contribute to sustainable development. As a labour intensive industry it can create jobs, particularly in marginalised rural areas. Tourism is an export that can earn vital foreign exchange for countries affected by heavy debt burdens and declining terms of trade for traditional commodity exports, without the 'product' leaving the country. Tourism can also contribute positively to wealth redistribution and economic empowerment through the development of small and medium enterprises.
Why Southern Africa?
Many regions of the world have acknowledged the developmental potential of tourism and are striving to harness the benefits. Post-apartheid Southern Africa is at the forefront of these. International tourist arrivals to Southern Africa have increased dramatically since the end of the apartheid. Between 1990 and 1996 the number of visitors to the region more than doubled. South Africa was the world's fastest growing destination in 1996. Action for Southern Africa has identified international tourism as a vital force for future economic diversification and growth, as well as for social development and community empowerment.
People-First Tourism - the vision
The vision of a new type of tourism already being articulated by key actors in Southern Africa, from regional bodies to governments and right down to community level. The South African White Paper on tourism outlines various key aspects of what it calls 'Responsible Tourism'. Other groups refer to 'alternative' or 'peoples' tourism, all involve a core set of elements which have been synthesised below as 'people-first tourism'.