Ecotourism vital for rural communities

In a bid to promote eco-tourism, Chitsanza Development Association, a community-based organization has embarked on a massive project to refurbish ancient historical and sacred sites along the Nyangani Mountain Range in Manicaland.

The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has called for the promotion and support of eco-tourism in the country’s rural communities, not only as an instrument for promoting sustainable resource management, but also to bring tourists to the backwaters of underdevelopment.

Globally, there is a growing enthusiasm for grass-roots efforts to promote various forms of tourism. Local communities are trying to attract visitors interested in their cultural heritage and rich biodiversity.

“Several historical and sacred sites lie along the Nyangani Mountain Range, mainly composed of underground pits lined with granite stones as enclosures,” said Itai Nyamaropa, CHIDA Programmes Officer.

During a recent tour of some parts of the range, he noted that the sites were also used for traditional ceremonial rituals. They were also used as hiding places by locals running away from violence perpetrated by political thugs during the orgy June 2008 elections.

“When given the opportunity and access to resources, local communities are more likely to engage in direct actions to protect and improve the environment,” said Zefania Jaravaza, Nyanga Rural District Council Chief Executive Officer.

“We have since believed that our traditional spirits control historical and sacred sites and this helped reduce over-exploitation of forest resources,” said Michael Magaso, an aide to Chief Hata of the district.

Such projects reveal that innovators understand the importance of integrating tourism into a more balanced programme of productive development, said a senior official in the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Richard Machigere, during the tour.

“Local communities in the district are attempting to find a way of creating a dignified way of life in a changing world that to some extent underestimates their capabilities,” said Joseph Tasosa, Executive Director of ZIMNET.

Post published in: Travel

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