NELSPRUIT, South Africa -- Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe
have worked since late 1999 to create a transborder nature preserve
that they expect to debut sometime this year.
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park incorporates the 1
million-acre Limpopo National Park, created last year in
Mozambique, plus Kruger and Gonarezhou national parks in South
Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively.
As part of the project, some animals already have been
relocated, and South Africa this spring will begin removal of a
fence it constructed on the Mozambique border during apartheid.
The plan also envisions a "univisa," said Fernando Sumbana,
Mozambique's minister of tourism, a document that would let
tourists enter the park from one country and leave from one of the
The park, one of a series planned under the auspices of the
Peace Parks Foundation, was hailed at the inaugural African Peace
Through Tourism Conference here as an example of how
tourism-related projects can contribute to peace.
Speaking at the conference, Valli Moosa, minister of
environmental affairs and tourism for South Africa, said, "We won't
create peace" at the Nelspruit conference, but joint efforts like
the three-nation park make cooperating countries dependent on one
another and "that focuses the mind on creating peace."
For Limpopo, internal peace in Zimbabwe turns out to be a
greater concern, as observers worry that recent elections might
spark a civil war.
If Zimbabwe cannot proceed initially, a Peace Parks spokeswoman
said, Mozambique and South Africa will take the initiative because
ecotourism is very essential to sustainable economic growth in this
Numerous African tourism officials addressed the conference,
which was sponsored jointly by the Africa Travel Association and
the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism.
There was a general agreement among the speakers that tourism
contributes incrementally toward peace because travel leaves
visitors "wiser and more tolerant," according to Dawid de Villiers,
deputy secretary-general at the World Tourism Organization.
However, participants said, tourism's more direct role is in
alleviating poverty, a key source of instability and, hence,
Iain Christie, consultant to the World Bank, said that
institution has recommitted itself to tourism development in order
to reduce poverty, and it wants to help Africa increase its tourism
The welfare of the environment, deeply intertwined with tourism
and poverty issues, was a key conference topic, as well.
Poverty degrades the environment, and a degraded environment
contributes to poverty, de Villiers said.
If poorly managed, tourism can be harmful, too. For the
lesser-developed countries -- often the most blessed with natural
wonders -- using those resources to prosper hinges on using them
wisely and involving local communities, said Philemon Luhanjo,
permanent secretary, Tanzania Ministry for Natural Resources &
He said if properly planned, tourism can contribute to the
conservation of natural resources; de Villiers said tourism's
positive impact already is discernible in the preservation of many
global cultural and heritage sites.
De Villiers and others also noted that if unguided, tourism can
result in the exploitation of people through child labor and
prostitution, for example, and the degradation of local value
Even the most benign tourist activity can accelerate the
difference between the rich and the poor as well as between urban
and rural, said Cheryl Carolus, chief executive officer, South
Other programs presented here that aim to facilitate African
travel and provide tourism benefits to the region are as
• The Peace Parks Foundation, based in South Africa, has
identified several areas in Africa where transborder parks would be
logical for resource maintenance.
The first of these parks, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in
Botswana and South Africa, launched in May 2000. Great Limpopo will
be the second.
• About two dozen west and central African nations agreed to
liberalize air transport among them.
Effective this August, the pact permits the nations' designated
airlines to carry passengers between any participating states
(fifth freedom rights), allows carriers to set fares without prior
government approvals and ends limits on frequencies or capacity of
service among any of the states. Participants can phase in certain
provisions for up to two years.
• Mozambique's Sumbana said 14 southern Africa nations are
discussing a regional univisa that would give visitors free
movement among all participants. He said he expects the univisa to
be available within two years.
Similarly, nearly a dozen west African nations are pursuing a
Tanzania will host the second African Peace Through Tourism
Conference in November 2003.