Saturday, September 20, 2014

Turismo y Desarrollo Comunitario

It is only when I started to travel and live beyond my home that I understood how viable Tourism is for local community development. Many people refer to Tourism as a frivolous asset of little economic value. But residents should educate themselves about the potential positive impact of tourism and the opportunities it can create to bring people together.

I have had the chance to experience two roles during my trips or whenever I stay in my home town: the tourist and the resident. In fact, every resident and every visitor are essentially complimentary partners in tourism planning and its impact on community development.

Five months ago, I decided to cross the borders of my country and of my mind by travelling to Alaska. The trip was undoubtedly unique, as was the fact of being in a place that was, to some extent, infamous. Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska, is a place that has benefitted from Tourism for years. Even during cold seasons, Anchorage still attracts tourists with a passion for winter sports, lofty mountain peaks, marine wildlife, ice-sculptured fjords and glacier cruises to see the massive tidewater glaciers of Alaska. Tourism supports about 40,000 jobs for Alaskans on an annual average basis. Many of these jobs are in restaurants, bars, hotels, lodges, sightseeing businesses and other establishments that provide services to tourists.

What I have learned while I was in Alaska is that every resident, not just tourism employees, has the capacity to affect a visitor’s perception of the place. Every resident in Alaska is a partner in customer service which is significant in tourism, because it thrives on word-of-mouth reports to friends and family, and now through social media, too. This means that the whole community takes part into the tourism development process, which will contribute to the community’s development afterwards and therefore make tourism a sustainable business. 

In my home town, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy something else. Having been the centre of the Carthaginian Empire and a Phoenician colony during the 1st millennium BC, Carthage has been an excellent historic site in the north of Tunisia, which is over 2800 years old. This city of 20,000 inhabitants attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world each year.

Carthage has grown rapidly during the last decade. We have been encouraging support for tourism by residents, as well as government and local businesses. Many hotels, resorts, museums, and the prestigious International Festival of Carthage have all been contributing to the development and the reputation of the city and the country as a whole.

I believe that residents and tourists are able to help communities discover their tourism potential and work on it. For many communities on earth, tourism has grown into a global economic power and savior in the developing world. However, tourism is also about endless possibilities of life in new places with different people. Because I believe that, to live means to travel in high-definition; any other life is black-and-white.

Ala Oueslati

Somewhere in Anchorage

Anchorage Trails