Mbabane: Rural tourism plays a vital role in the development of local communities in rural areas in a sustainable manner. This ethical traveling choice takes place in wide-open places with low levels of tourism development, which allows travelers to make a difference in rural communities.
This was said by the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Moses Vilakati at Mahamba George during the launch of the tourism month, which is themed “Tourism and Rural Development”
Vilakati noted that tourism in rural areas offers important opportunities for economic recovery in communities therefore supporting rural tourism is critical because many communities have no other form of economic activity that can help them generate income, thus tourism can be an opportunity.
The minister of tourism highlighted that Mahamba George is one of the most success stories in community based tourism.
Mahamba George is owned and run by the community and has created employment opportunities for the community.
The George through its annual hiking initiative “Mahamba George Hiking” has also been able to help the elderly and most vulnerable in the community, by building houses, and giving food parcels among others to help the needy.
Other areas that have contributed immensely into the development of their communities include Shewula Mountain Camp, Nsangwini Rock Art Center, Sibebe Resort, Ngwempisi Hiking Trails, Luphohlo and Bulembu projects and orphanages to name a few.
These community projects according to Vilakati have created jobs for women and young people in rural arrears not only directly but also indirectly through other economic activities and the preservation of culture and restoration of traditional activities.
Vilakati urged other communities to identify sites that can be developed and used as tourism attractions areas.
He noted that even if private partnerships are not secured to develop the areas, communities can join hands together and raise funds to support the developments and ensure that they fully own it. This according to Vilakati will contribute towards improved quality of life, economic developments and sustainability of conservation programs.