August 16, 2017: Communities in Oesilo and Fonte Sagrada take a leadership role on the development of sustainable tourism in their localities

August 16, 2017: Communities in Oesilo and Fonte Sagrada take a leadership role on the development of sustainable tourism in their localities

In total, over 100 people have actively participated in four tourism workshops organized by ZEESM TL in collaboration with UNDP where many new ideas have emerged. This work constitutes the first phase of an ambitious community based tourism project that will develop two travel packages in Fonte Sagrada and Oesilo area and initiate new businesses with the assistance of the Oé-Cusse Business Incubator program.

This and previous week, the Regional Secretary for Communitary Tourism RAEOA – ZEESM TL, Ms. Inácia Teixeira with UNDP’s technical support organized set of group meetings in Fonte Sagrada and Oesilo area with the aim of starting the development of a community based tourism, a kind of tourism “that allows tourists to discover local habitats and wildlife, and celebrates and respects traditional cultures, rituals and wisdom”, according to Ms. Teixeira.

All stakeholders in the community of both localities have actively engaged and participated in four workshops where many new ideas have emerged to promote tourism in the region. Tais weaving, traditional pottery, palm sugar, freshly picked coconut, are just some of abundance of local produce that have been identified as significant for further strengthening in Oesilo. Whereas, in Fonte Sagrada ZEESM TL will encourage the promotion of a walking tour through one of the most beautiful areas of the region that constitutes a sacred enclave for the community. A real cultural insight experience related to traditional sacred houses – called “Ume Le’u” in baikeno language – is also considered by the ZEESM TL as one of the main points of attraction to develop in Oesilo, next to mud geysers.

During the meetings, Edmundo Pereira, OBI Coordinator in ZEESM TL, has also taken the opportunity to present the Oé-Cusse Business Incubator, a process designed to assist starting up new businesses and accelerate the growth and success of existing ones. Through an array of business support resources and services that will include physical space, capital, coaching, common services and networking connections, OBI program is also complementing development of community based tourism. Pereira reminded all the attendants that the registration process for OBI is still open until 18th of August 2018 and invited all the interested applicants to register. “From ZEESM TL, we are encouraging community groups to register their business ideas, which will later on with the assistance of OBI staff be further developed and potentially turned info business plans”, Pereira further explains: “The business plans will enter a competition round and best ones will be awarded with support for development of businesses”.

This is the first phase of an ambitious tourist project that, through joint efforts in partnership with all the members of the community, aims to develop two travel packages that go beyond the conventional tourism. “Many times, tourists leave a place without getting in touch with the local community and the real culture”, claims Nela Slezak, Community based Tourism Planner and Strategist in UNDP, and adds: “What ZESSM TL together with locals aims to develop is community based tourism: travelers come and share knowledge and experiences with the local people, whereas both the traveler and the host learn”. From a ZEESM TL perspective, this is a huge opportunity that “will make community aware of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism, which also fosters community based conservation of these resources”.

Meetings in both localities have concluded with the formation of two tourism working groups that will lead the process in the coming days and include representatives from the education and private sector, as well as NGO’s, the community and ZEESM. “Your participation in the process is very important”, insisted Laura Fiorotto, Project Manager in UNDP, to all the attendants last evening in Fonte Sagrada: “You will be the leader of the change in your community”.

Development of Community Based Tourism is integrated with Oé-Cusse Business Incubator OBI program as a way to encourage local people to engage in the development of their Suco’s.