Tourism: Going Beyond Training!

The announcement earlier this month by the Minister of State, Minister of Tourism and Leisure that a higher institute of tourism will soon see the light of day in Bertoua, East Region certainly took many keen observers off their seats in awe. Understandably so as knowledge, they say is power, and a key development sector like tourism absolutely needs well-armed men and women to deliver the goods. Tourism stakeholders play a vital role in welcoming guests, serving at table as well as guiding tours in museums and different tourists’ sites.
The revelation by Minister of State, Bello Bouba Maïgari on January 12 during the 2024 New Year Wishes ceremony that, “To achieve the objectives set out in the national development strategy in 2024, we will be focusing on the quality of services and the proper maintenance of hotel and leisure facilities. To achieve this, we needed a training institution for hotel staff and all leisure facilities,” is hope-raising.  Underlining that, “We obtained the authorisation of the Head of State two or three years ago to build a training institute for tourism, hotels and leisure facilities in Bertoua. The project is well under way and is due to open in a few months’ time,” therefore sets the stage for high expectations for better service delivery in the vital sector.
It is known that Cameroon has more than 200 ethnic groups with over 250 languages and a diversity of cultural activities. There are also ecotourist potentials that can be explored from North to South and East to West thanks to the highly contrasting landscape. Observers have noted that Cameroon concentrates all the beauties of Africa; which explains why people consider that nobody could really discover Africa without having visited Cameroon. The country is full of melting and contrasting views, which provide tourists with a unique spectacle. This ancestral land relies on a symbiosis between sea and desert, waterfalls and Sahara area, temperate climate in the South and great heat in the North. Attractive indeed!
The relation between tribal societies and modern cities, the exceptional variety of the flora and fauna, the cohabitation of traditional and democratic leadership quite often gives tourists the impression that they are visiting several countries at the same time. Any visitor may feel in harmony with art, nature and its people. This is awesome for a country, described severally as Africa in miniature. A place anyone would desire to visit, if only for the description. 
However, potentials alone are not enough to bring tourists to a country. There is more to tourism than simply having the naturally-endowed sites, some of which have not been fully developed or made accessible.  It is common knowledge that a destination’s success largely depends on its tourism stakeholders and their ability to find shared ways and solutions to achieve their common goals, such as well-tailored investments to attract tourists in line with a destination’s tourism offer and the capacity of the people to welcome and live with tourists.
When sites deemed touristic are left in their archaic state, when roads to tourists’ sites are not passable all year round and when services in accommodation areas are amateurish, no one would desire to visit such sites, irrespective of their significance. Attractiveness of a tourist site is not only in its worth, but more in the package put together to make visitors comfortable.  
This is certainly where Cameroon is still wanting. The country’s cultural diversity is supposed to be an asset, unfortunately it remains largely underdeveloped to attract whoever from wherever. Historic sites that would have been well developed to attract tourists are most often left to decay or given shabby handling in the name of developing tourists’ sites.
There is first of all, the need to identify tourists’ sites, come out with their specificities and proceed with an in-depth development to give them the image desired by any tourist. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for the central government to do so alone, at least efficiently. The decentralisation policy which is more on paper therefore needs to swing into full a...



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