Achieving more sustainable tourism in Africa
In Africa, this research has advanced workforce skills, generated innovative niche tourism products and influenced the practices of hundreds of people whose livelihoods and communities depend upon the tourist trade across many countries such as Namibia, Kenya, The Gambia and Ghana.
In 2013, the Gambian Tourism and Hospitality Institute was inaugurated following Novelli’s World Bank commissioned research into the strategic planning of vocational education and workforce development in the country. This resulted in training schemes increasing the level of professionally trained workforce and employability in the sector, including train-the- trainer schemes, on service standards co-developed and in collaboration with The Gambia Hotel Association.
In 2015, the World Bank and Gambia Ministry of Finance commissioned Novelli to complete an evaluation study of the World Bank’s $3m investment to increase tourism competitiveness and productivity in The Gambia. This study informed the World Bank’s institutional project monitoring and evaluation phase, contributing to the successful completion of their interventions in the country.
As a direct result of Marina Novelli and Adam Jones’ 2014-2016 research on the Ebola- induced tourism crisis, the Gambia Ministry of Tourism and Culture established new crisis management procedures and a crisis fund. The Gambia Chamber of Commerce introduced new crisis management procedures and communication strategies employing internet and social media platforms. More recently, based on earlier experiences of dealing with the Ebola epidemic, Marina Novelli was invited by the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority to co-create an action-oriented task force on COVID-19. This became the Building Bridges for Sustainable Tourism in Africa initiative, advocating for proactive collaborations to address the COVID-19-induced tourism crisis at continental level. Marina Novelli’s research then informed discussions of the first ever African Tourism Authorities/Board CEO Forum held in 2020 and several other virtual forums, establishing a path towards tourism recovery.
Marina Novelli’s Peer-to-Peer approach has shifted wider tourism sector narratives internationally towards achieving the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with impactful interventions at global, national and local levels. In 2016, the transformative value of the Peer-to-Peer approach, and its ability to improve socio-economic benefits for host communities, were acknowledged as tourism best practice by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in their report on The Power of Transformative Tourism.
Over a seven-year period, Marina Novelli’s commissioned research underpinned investment and workforce skills capacity-building in Namibia, The Gambia, Kenya and Ghana. Through product development training, community members acquired new knowledge, skills and values associated with sustainable tourism business planning, conservation and community development. This included establishment of the first ever community-based turtle conservation project in the country, ‘Turtle SOS The Gambia’, to respond to devastating turtle poaching activities and offer a system of awareness building and educational programmes to low-income coastal communities.
Since 2018, Marina Novelli and Adam Jones have implemented the Peer-to-Peer approach in Ghana, through a collaboration with globally-renowned artist Serge Clottey, La360 community-based arts festival team and a local youth group. This intervention improved community living standards in the low-income coastal neighbourhood of La (Labadi) in Accra. It stimulated change in community members’ attitudes, turning them from passive bystanders witnessing the degradation of their urban and ocean environments, to active custodians of these environments.