Article

Comoros trains youth tour guides to promote sustainable tourism

Participants in the youth tour guide training workshop © CNDRS

Comoros National Center of Documentation and Scientific Research (CNDRS), with the support of UNESCO, organized a two-day capacity-building workshop entitled “Training of Tour Guides for the Heritage of Comoros” on 1 and 2 September 2021. The hybrid workshop was held online with the physical participation of 25 youth participants (over a third of which were females), from 6 historical sites and different institutions on the 3 main islands of Comoros (Anjouan, Moheli and Grande Comore), including the Directorate General of Arts and Culture, Directorate of Tourism, Site Managers, students at the University of Comoros and civil society agents.

The workshop, which is one of the final activities of the project "Capacity Building in Sustainable Tourism Development and Management for World Heritage in Comoros" funded by the Netherlands Fund-In-Trust to UNESCO, aimed to raise awareness among local tour guides about the heritage values of the Historic Sultanates of Comoros and  UNESCO guidance for sustainable tourism practices in order to better preserve, protect and manage the flow of visitors to Comoros. The workshop followed a training workshop carried out on 13 and 14 July 2021 to finalize the Sustainable Tourism Management Plan for Comoros.

The workshop was opened by Mr. Ibrahim Saïdi, a Technical advisor of the Ministry of Youth, Employment, Labor, Sports, Arts and Culture, who thanked UNESCO and the Netherlands for their contribution and support to this project, and congratulated the national team for successfully finalizing the Sustainable Tourism Management Plan for Comoros. He recognized that the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme offers an opportunity to build the professional capacity of young people in contributing to the management, conservation and promotion of cultural and natural heritage.

Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture at UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, introduced the UNESCO Culture Programme, the World Heritage Convention and Sustainable Tourism Programme as well as the activities of the Netherlands-funded capacity building project, which supported a mapping of cultural assets in Comoros, development of a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan and implementation strategy, as well as a promotional film and photo exhibition together with the tour guide training workshop. Through presentations by national experts, participants also learned about the role of tour guides in Comoros, national legislation for the protection of culture, and the history of cultural sites in Comoros, including the potential “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Historic Sultanates of Comoros, which is the focus of a World Heritage nomination file currently under preparation by the Union of Comoros.

The World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme promotes a ‘destination management’ approach, which evolves from the simple management of sites to a broader vision involving the wider ecosystem, respecting the socio-cultural identity of host communities, and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits. This training workshop is empowering Comoros’ tour guides to play a key role in sustainable tourism management. By increasing their understanding of the heritage values of the tourist sites in Comoros, they will be better able to convincingly convey conservation needs and positively influence visitors’ behavior at the heritage sites.
Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Culture Programme Specialist, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

On the second day of the workshop, participants learned about the importance of World Heritage Sites; tour guide's knowledge and know-how; expectations from visitors; and tourist valorization of the heritage. Youth participants contributed greatly to the group discussion, which included a suggestion that the national authorities develop criteria and a comprehensive curriculum for young people to become certified heritage tour guides in Comoros.

National authorities, local communities and tourism stakeholders share responsibility for the promotion and conservation of Comoros’ cultural and natural heritage, and for ensuring its sustainable development through appropriate tourism management. I am confident that through this workshop, participants, especially youth, have gained a better understanding of the connection between World Heritage conservation and sustainable tourism.
Dr. Toiwilou Mze Hamadi, Director General of the CNDRS

For more information on the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme, please see: https://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism/