Five African destinations have been selected as part of the novel world tourism organization’s Best Tourism Villages project. In total 44 destinations were celebrated at the just held 24th UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, Spain.
The five African countries are Morocco, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius and Ethiopia.
Le Morne-Mauritius, Wonchi,-Ethiopia, Sidi Kaouki-Morocco, Olergesailie-Kenya, Nkotsi Village, Rwanda
Nkotsi Village, Rwanda
Nkotsi brings together communities around the Virunga Mountains to promote community sustainable development by involving local people in programs which improve their livelihood through Environmental Conservation, Arts & Culture, Education, and Community Health & Food Security Initiatives.
The Village of Old Grand Port is known as the cradle of the colonisation of the island being given that the first settlement of the island was set up in this area by the Dutch. Its multi-ethnic population which is mainly composed of the fishermen community, farmers and local artisans, still perpetuate the traditional way of life and cultures that was once prominent on the island in peace and harmony.
Situated about 150 km west of Addis Ababa, Wonchi is one of the most magnificent tourist destinations in Ethiopia. Its magnificence emanates from the blend of the natural cultural peculiarity of which its landscape and the lake laying in the deep basin offer an extraordinary beauty.
Sidi Kaouki is a small village located 2 hours away from Marrakech. A Berber fishing and shepherd village, its main activities besides fishing and agriculture include the production and marketing of high-quality 100% natural organic products such as Argan Food, Cosmetics, Honey, Amlou, soap, shampoo, and cream.
Located in the Southern region of Kenya, Olergesailie is famous for the hand axes many of which date back almost one million years and are some of the oldest ever found.
Here we will look at finds unearthed in this region dated between 1.2 million and 490,000 years ago. it’s home to the maasai people that still practise their ancient traditions.
These initiatives create employment opportunities for women and youth through arts and culture experiences focused on conservation and skills sharing through workshops.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
A total of 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions were granted recognition in 2021. All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative includes three pillars:
1. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’: Recognizes villages which are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.
2. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme: The Upgrade programme will benefit a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive the recognition. These villages will receive support from UNWTO and its Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
3. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network: The Network will provide a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities. It will include representatives of the villages recognized as the ‘Best Tourism Village by UNWTO’, the villages participating in the Upgrade Programme, as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development.
A total of 174 villages were proposed by 75 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could present a maximum of three villages) for the 2021 pilot initiative. Among which 44 were recognized as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO. Another 20 villages will enter the Upgrade Programme of the Initiative. All 64 villages enter to make part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network.