Ecotourism in Cameroon
Ecotourism in Cameroon is a growing industry promoted by government in order to preserve natural surroundings and help alleviate poverty. Whilst ecotourism in Cameroon remains a small industry, it is now experiencing encouraging growth.
Africa in Miniature
The government promotes ecotourism in Cameroon by drawing attention to its regional diversity, dubbing it “Africa in miniature”. There are a number of packages available that promote ecotourism in Cameroon, including the Mount Cameroon Inter communal Ecotourism Board.
This is a not-for-profit organization which concentrates on developing community-based ecotourism in Cameroon. Formerly known as Mount Cameroon Ecotourism Organization (Mount CEO), its objectives are to promote ecotourism in Cameroon by integrating tourism and the conservation of natural surroundings.
As ecotourism in Cameroon continues to grow, a number of projects around the country now exist to ensure that ecotourism in Cameroon is developed in order to support local communities.
Tourism is now concentrating on offering tours and safaris using guides taken from local villages who possess extensive indigenous knowledge. These are often former hunters who, thanks to ecotourism in Cameroon projects, can now find alternative forms of employment which helps to protect wildlife.
Mount CEO’s motto is “income for village communities and conservation of biodiversity through ecotourism in Cameroon.” Their main objective is to improve the livelihoods of the local populations, whilst combining the growing ecotourism industry with nature conservation.
Sustainable Ecotourism in Cameroon
The principles of ecotourism in Cameroon are carried out on a number of levels; regional, local and by agreement with the Cameroon Ministry of Tourism.
At Mount CEO, a multi stakeholder structure was implemented in 1998 and 1999 in order to effectively manage ecotourism in Cameroon activities. At regional level, a board of directors determine policies and at local level, committees coordinate activities through the ecotourism office.
Benefits of Ecotourism in Cameroon
The local population benefit from ecotourism in Cameroon in three ways: through the village development fund, where a percentage of the profits is paid-in; through hunters working as guides and porters and through ecotourism-related activities such as village performances, traditional cooking and craft-making.
Wages for guides and porters are paid directly to them, but an additional fee is also charged, which is collected and distributed amongst the stakeholders and the village fund. Further funds are raised from the sale of information, as well as hiring out camping equipment.
Although the organization receives further support from the German Development Service, it remains a challenge to ensure that ecotourism in Cameroon is financially sustainable over the next few years.
Country-wide Ecotourism in Cameroon
The diversity of the country offers the opportunity to develop ecotourism in Cameroon widely. Mountain ecosystems such as Mount Cameroon house a variety of wildlife, flora, crater lakes and waterfalls, whilst coastal regions offer a range of reserves and are where the most ancient of the forest people, pygmies, live.
In many areas, local hunters have been retrained in a variety of disciplines, including communication and guiding, ecology, volcanism, waste management and first aid. Mount Cameroon is currently working with 30 guides and over 100 porters.
Ecotourism in Cameroon is promoted for each region by the production of leaflets and brochures for international trade fairs and by contact with tour operators and hotels is established. All of this has meant that ecotourism in Cameroon is experiencing a significant rise in the amount of tourists it attracts.
Across the country, links are being set up with various environmental projects which help to train hunters from different areas. Although the different provinces have separate initiatives, these are beginning to share information through various networks which concentrate on ecotourism in Cameroon.
Tourists fill in evaluation forms so that activity and impact can be monitored and reports are also gathered from guides, porters and villages. Many local communities are already benefitting from ecotourism in Cameroon not only through employment, but by receiving assistance through the funds to have electricity supplied.