CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF ECOTOURISM IN THE WEST COAST OF CAMEROON
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Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Ecotourism has been considered as sustainable tourism since it has been believed to preserve the environment of a tourist destination as well as to satisfy the various needs of tourists. This work examines the challenges and prospects of ecotourism in the west coast of Cameroon. From the population, a total of 50 local inhabitants, and 30 workers of the ecotourism sites were interviewed and administered with questionnaires to get the data on the challenges and prospects of ecotourism. The results show that the various challenges which are associated with ecotourism in the west coast of Cameroon are; littering and poor waste management, poor infrastructure, limited accessibility, and high transport cost are discussed. The various advantages of ecotourism includes creation of opportunities to travel and discover, helps in environmental consciousness and helps you understand different cultures. To solve these problems, key recommendations were that, the government and business sector should improve on lodging and road infrastructures outside the ecotourism sites to provide comfort to ecotourists. Littering should equally be completely prohibited in this sites.
Ecotourism or environmentally conscious tourism was born and has been used since the 80’s. Other terms associated with ecotourism are; Green tourism, sustainable tourism and nature-based tourism. Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In each year, more people choose to travel using ecotourism over conventional travel activities (Ecotourism World, 2022). Across the world, ecotourism has been hailed as a panacea for developing nations, a source of clean development that can bring wealth to rural Communities while simultaneously helping to preserve pristine environments (Honey, 1999).
The world economic focus has ranked 136 nations on the basic of their natural resources, taking into account the number of natural sites, the total number of species and protected areas and UNESCO world Heritage sites. Brazil is ranked first because, it is characterized by a wealth of natural resources among the most diverted in the world. They are very few places in the world that have not been fully explored yet and the Amazonian Forest in Brazil is one of them (Marras, 2022).
Some of the main ecotourism destinations is the world include costa Rica, Great Barrier reef in Australia, South Korea especially the city of Seoul, Spain, United State, Ecuador, Italy, Indonesia, China, Pean, Mexico, Brazil. These countries are making ecotourism a priority by thriving on a new economy, conserving their natural assets through sustainable tourism ventures. With an environment and natural beauty that shines on its own, these destinations do not need architecture, towering buildings or man-made attractions (even though all these exist) to put them on a travel bucket list (Chiara, 2022).
Global annual ecotourism revenue is estimated to be from $800 billion USD (the International Tourism Society) to 1Trillion USD (UNWTO).
Ecotourism employs over 11million people directly and adda ancillary (additional) income for millions.
Eco-travelers are younger than the average travelers and according to the international tourism society (TTES) surveys, are more committed to ecotourism and sustainable practices, as they cost less in infrastructure per unit than any other type of traveler. Over 90 nations now have an ecotourism or sustainable tourism Initiative nationally or at a regional level. About 70% of people under 30 say sustainable travel is a priority (The-International- Ecotourism- Society, 2019).
Across Africa, nature-based tourism reportedly now generates roughly the same revenue. As farming forestry and fisheries combined (Balm ford, Beresford, Green, Naidoo, Dapple and Monica, 2009) since its (ecotourism) introduction over 30 years ago, ecotourism has been central to tourism growth in Africa as Africans share of tourism growth is modest at 2% based on the 2014 statistics (UNLI To 2015).
Inspired of the tremendous success, ecotourism in Africa still faces a number of constraints or problems and limitations. For instance, most of the countries in the east and central part of Africa have been ravaged (ruined) with civil wars, political instability which have slowed down ecotourism growth trajectory and potentials. Poor infrastructure has caused many countries with diverse wildlife and plenty of chiastic species in accessible, which has thereby affected and is affecting the ecotourism potentials (Black man Mun Anura, 2016).
The best ecotourism destinations in Africa offer various wildlife experiences that benefit travel destinations and travelers alike. Some of the best ecotourism destructions in Africa include, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. There exist various ecotourism sites in these areas. For example, the volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the Seychelles Indian Ocean Island, South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, the Kambale National Park found in Uganda has over a thousand chimanes lives in Kambale as well as 12 other species and Primates, the lake Nakuru park in Kenya (one of the most fascinating national parks in Kenya, well known for leopard sightings) and more (knock, 2022) there are also many other ecotourism sites that exist in these countries, but those mentioned are the most visited areas in the various countries.
Cameroon has long been a touristic destination since the times of the Carthaginians who noticed “the chariots of the gods”. But it was until a few years back that tourism started effectively despite its captivating beauty, scenic splendor and magnificent views and wildlife. Cameroon is generally referred to as a microcosm of Africa hence the name “Africa in Miniature” as it is cuts across all major climatic and ecological zones of the African continent. Kupe Managua division in the Southwest region of Cameroon is second only to Fako in terms of ecotourism potentials (Blangah and Frederick, 2017).
Cameroon which it located in the Central Africa Sub-region is a major ecotourist or ecotourist distraction in the region considering the fact that unlike many at its neighbors, Cameroon is blessed with an abundance of attractions such as its sandy and black sand beaches in Kribi and Limbe Mount Cameroon in the Southwest region, which is the highest pack in western and central Africa and the country (Cameroon itself). Although Cameroon is endowed with this mind – blowing tourism potentials, the country tourism is still in its infancy state, Cameroon which only attracts about 500.000 tourist per year, is not on the list of major tourist distractions listed by the world tourist organization (Cyprian, 2012).
Cameroon was ranked 15th out of 130 countries in terms of the concentration and number of total known floral and facials species in the 2008 world Economic forum (WEF) Travel and Tourism competitiveness report. The country is top destinations include, the idea National Park, korup National Park, Dja Faunal reserve, lobeke National Park, Ebogo ecotourism’s, sultanate Foumban, lamidats of ReyBouba, the fandom of Befit and the coastal resorts of Kribi and Limbe at the foot of mount Cameroon. Ecotourism became a key development objective in Cameroon in 1981. However, it is only within the last two decades that Cameroon tourism industry has been significant, with effort that are being made to promote its development and enhancing its competitiveness through a varies of reforms undertaken by the government (Albert, 2017).
The west coast is a district of Cameroon located in the Fako Division and the South West region of Cameroon. Its headquarters is in idea. The West coast of Cameroon is one of the regions or part of Cameroon with the highest ecotourism network (that is in attractions and activities). The main cities or to cons of the West coast include idenau, Limbe and Kribi.
The West Coast of Cameroon is one of the resourced ecotourism destinations in Cameroon due to its high endowment with ecotourism potentials. The effective Organization of ecotourism can thus play a significant role to the growth and development of the local economy and the country at large. However, ecotourism in the West Coast of Cameroon is played by several challenges.
Threats to indigenous cultures; local are exploited in various ways such as using them for cheap labour. Local people lose their traditional wats of life as they become accustomed to “Western” cultures. Some locals are used as attractions to enable tourists to get traditional photographs of indigenous people. Ecotourism does also have the potential to make certain destination much more popular for visitors and eventually would lead to some traditional problems with tourism manifestation, including the displacement of indigenous people.
Insecurity is another major problem faced by ecotourism in the West Coast. The West Coast of Cameroon is found in the South West region of Cameroon. Due to the Anglo-phone crisis which broke out in 2016, involving the Northwest and Southwest region of Cameroon, ecotourism activities have tended to slow down as these areas (Southwest region) has been labeled as one of the danger zones or “on-go” areas in Cameroon. Tourist fear visiting this arears again due to the fear of being kidnapped or killed and also due to the scary stories they might have seen or heard concerning the West Coast of Cameroon.
Litters of waste products that have not been properly discarded. Littering is a problem faced by ecotourism in the West Coast of Cameroon as litter endangers our environment, our wildlife, it also degrades our natural attractions. For example, in the west coast. Pressley the Coastal town of Limbe, litter is evident as nylon and other garbage are seen inside and around the Limbe River passing through the Botanic Garden.
There is also the problem of poor infrastructure as this ecotourist attractions are characterized by very old infrastructures such as old restaurants and guest houses, even the hotels are very old buildings that have not been renovated since they were built. This infrastructural problem has tended to reduce the attractiveness of the ecotourist sites.
Inadequate community participation is another delicate problem. In the Context of rural ecotourism, community participation is seen as an active involvement of local communities to solve problems and control over rural tourism development initiatives, decisions lives or the lives of others. Community participation is considered an effective measure to protect the eco-environment and to improve people’s livelihoods in protected areas local communities’ exclusion, a pithy and lack of commitment to participate in ecotourism, Hs resulted in numerous threats that maybe detrimental to ecotourism development and these include, vandalism, marauding and hostility of locals, ecotourism sites, authorities and even tourists.
Absence of an ecotourism plain; an ecotourism plan is a development strategy where natural resources can be utilized as tourism attractions without causing harm to the natural environment or area. The absence of this ecotourism plan has therefore led to all the problems faced by the ecotourism industry in the West coast of Cameron.
Low level of community benefits is another problem as the communities in these areas (around the ecotourism sites) benefit little or nothing from ecotourism as the resources gained as a result of ecotourism activities are not evenly or yearly distributed of among the people or population. They instead suffer from problems like pollution, which is harmful rather than beneficial to their community.
Main research question
- What are the Challenges and prospects of ecotourism in the West coast of Cameroon?
Specific Research question
- What are the ecotourism potentials in the west Coast of Cameroon?
- What are the Challenges of ecotourism activities in the west coast of Cameroon?
- What are the prospects of ecotourism activities in the West coast of Cameroon?