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Africa's 4th Ecotourism Symposium
Three Bridges to a Secure Future:
Ecotourism, Peace and Compassion
by Jerry W. Bird


Part 2
Ecotourism's Trio: Land, Culture and Wildlife.
This nature, wildlife and culture-oriented trend has bred a more active, involved, compassionate and caring type of tourist, upstaging the sun, fun, cocktails and beach crowd. Hon. Alabo Graham- Douglas, Nigeria's Minister of Culture and Tourism calls it responsible tourism. "Ecotourism conserves the natural environments and sustains the well-being of local people" he said. "The continent is endowed with a vast potential of human and natural resources. Its tourist locations include wildlife parks, non-polluted beaches, hills and mountain ranges, waterfalls and warm springs.

There's also a rich culture; heritage, as expressed in our arts and crafts, songs and folklore, paintings and architecture, exotic cuisine and numerous historic relics and monuments." He's right on that score, myself and ATA colleagues have been visiting Africa for years and have hardly scratched the surface. We've spotted the vast potential that the Minister speaks of as follows: "The economic benefits to be gained from tourism linked to natural areas, have long been recognized as significant for conservation at several levels. First by providing an economic return to the nation, it can justify setting aside large areas of land for conservation and secondly, entry fees can generate substantial funds for support management. Thirdly, tourism expenditures on logging, transportation, food, guides and souvenirs are important source of income for communities nearby."

Treasures of Africa - its National Parks
Each year, starting this June, as our "Treasures of Africa" Road Show tours North America, Africa Travel Magazine and partners will showcase a special treasure, Africa's National Parks. This asset is growing in importance every year as a symbol of
Peace Through Tourism. In 1991, Nigeria established six national parks (Yankar, Kainji Lake, Old National, Cross River, Gashaka-Gumti and Chad Basin), totaling 23,000 sq. km). Its aim was to preserve and conserve the vegetation and wild animals, including large mammals (elephants, hippopotami, lions), reptiles, birds monkeys, chimpanzees, cheetahs, leopards, wild hogs, fish and sea life. Cross River National Park, in the south east forest belt, contains the last remnants of the rain forest ecosystem. Some of the animals found in this park include gorilla, drill, chimpanzee, forest elephants, and over 200 different species of bird. It is without doubt one of the best spots therefore for ecotourism.

Nigeria's Cultural Treasures
Tourism Minister Graham-Douglas also spoke of his country's efforts towards preservation of cultural properties; theater, music and art (exhibitions, seminars , workshops) video, film and publications. In 1988, a cultural policy was established to promote creativity in the arts, science and technology, plus traditional skills and sports. These efforts resulted in The Nigerian Film Corporation, National Council for Arts and Culture, National Troupe of Nigeria, National Gallery of Art, Center for Black and African Arts and Civilization, Nigerian Copyright Commission, National Theater and National Institute for Cultural Orientation. Hon. Alabo Graham- Douglas, Nigeria's Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Agriculture and Environment
"Although revenue from oil and gas exploration accounts for 80 percent of the total national income, the country has remained basically an agricultural economy," said the Minister. "Agriculture is the largest employer of labor. In this area, new planks in the program include a National Forestry Action Plan, National Conservation Strategy, National Resources Conservation Action Plan, National Water resources Master Plan and the Green Agenda of Vision 2010 (National Agenda 21)."

(Minister Graham -Douglas Continued)


Government Officials: Above from left- H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, President, Nigeria; H.E. Atiku Abubakar, Vice President, Nigeria. Below- Hon. Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Minister of Culture & Tourism, Nigeria; Hon. Alhaji A. Abdullahi, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

ATA Participants
Hon. Michael Afedi Gizo, Minister of Tourism, Ghana and President, Africa Travel Association
Mrs. Mira Berman, Executive Director, Africa Travel, Association
Mrs. Josephine Macaulay, Chairman
Mrs. Bode-Thomas, President, Nigeria Chapter, ATA

Papers Presented at the Ecotourism Symposium were:
"Preservation of Land, Culture and Wildlife."
Keynote address by Hon. Alabo Graham-Douglas, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Nigeria'
"Environmentally Sensitive Tourism: Promotion of Ecotourism for Sustainable Development in Nigeria."
by Dr. Muktar Aminu Kano
"Conservation Master Plan as a Tool for the Restoration of Major Historical Sites in Nigeria."
Dr. Joe Eboreime, National Coordinator, UNESCO World Heritage Program, Chairman ICOMOS Nigeria
"Linking Tourism Profitability to Environmental Responsibility,"
Jeffrey Balkind, Urban Project Team Leader, World Bank, Washington, DC
"Ecotourism Potential of Forests Outside National Parks."
K. Adeyoju , Emeritus Professor, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
"National Parks and their Benefits to Local Communities in Nigeria."
Lawan B. Marguba, FFAN Conservator-General"
"A Case Study of Nigerian Ecotourism."
H.E. Mrs. Onari Duke, Wife of Cross River State Governor, Nigeria
"Sustainable Travel and Tourism Development for Nigeria,"
Olatunde Obasola, Tourism Plus, Ibadan and D. Okali, NEST, Ibadan

(other details to come)

New! Photos from the Symposium.
More features from the Symposium and Nigeria coming on this page
and in a variety of media through our network feed)

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