Officially opening a four-day planning workshop on this theme here on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Samuel Rathedi, said heritage sites were among unexplored opportunities of improving the livelihoods of communities, noting that such sites in Africa were situated in rural areas where they formed people's belief systems.
Rathedi said there was need for pragmatic means to address poverty and contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
He said conservation and preservation of cultural heritage through tourism depended on all sectors of the society.
There was thus a need for a strong framework on the part of government and a commitment at local and institutional levels to ensure policy implementation.
"I am convinced that you will consider local relevance and stakeholder participation so that intended projects meet local ownership and impact positively on livelihoods," he said.
Heritage sites in Africa continued to receive an increasing inflow of visitors, he noted.
As a result, it was important to identify and address challenges affecting the sustainability of these sites and to ensure that part of the proceeds from tourism were channeled back to support conservation efforts and to improve livelihoods.
Rathedi said the workshop had come at a time when heritage experts and practitioners were emphasising on utilising tourism to support preservation of heritage sites while promoting sustainable development on the African continent.
In the National Development Plan 10, he said, government stated that to expand cultural heritage tourism, community-based initiatives would be strongly supported so that local communities may get more involved in travel and tourism, he noted.
It further says that local communities will be encouraged to utilise natural resources in their areas and to be fully involved in the development and promotion of cultural tourism.
"The government remains committed to the ideals of the African World Heritage Fund, for example, to support the preservation of sites on the African continent," he said.
Rathedi urged participants to share and learn from one anothers experiences of managing heritage sites and to come up with models of jointly leveraging economic potential from the sites.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism, Samuel Rathedi said that economic development was a means to improving people's lives.
He said that the current consumption and production rates of the global economy were exerting a heavy pressure on the ecosystem and on critical life supporting systems.
"This means that we cannot continue to ignore the fact that we have to adopt green economy strategies just because there is an issue of poverty eradication", he said.
He however said that green economy should take into consideration the different developmental levels of countries.
"Developing countries must continue raising peoples living standards whilst reducing their adverse environmental footprints, recognising that poverty eradication remains a priority," he said.
The ministry's permanent secretary, Samuel Rathedi, has acknowledged that as a result of budget cuts due to the economic recession, office accommodation for all departments under his ministry is a major challenge.
Some departments were allocated funds to develop their plots, but because of the recession, the funds were frozen.
Addressing staff here last Thursday, Rathedi said the ministry was considering interventions like renting out portable cabins to relieve the situation.
"We are thinking of using money that was generated from the sale of elephant tasks in Kasane to help address the situation," he said.
Rathedi applauded the employees for their commitment to their work despite the challenges they encountered and acknowledged the other problems as presented.
Some of the money from the sale of elephant tasks would be used in the control of animal movement, he said.
Rathedi urged the staffers to acquaint themselves with the new Public Service Act that took effect last May.Rathedi appealed to them not to overlook their supervisors when they have complaints regarding promotions.
"While it is good to voice out your concerns, it is important to do it in a proper manner," he said.
"I understand that in some instances, the problem lies with your supervisors who fail to give your cases the urgency they deserve."
Rathedi cautioned them against temptation to be corrupt and reminded them that some of their colleagues were under investigation for corruption.
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