Heritage and heritage tourism in Africa: historical overview and contemporary issues

N. Lwoga, E.A. Adu-Ampong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Africa is a small but expanding region of the global tourism economy. While its regions endowed with natural heritage resources such as wildlife, beaches and warm climates have been primary tourist places, regions endowed with cultural heritage resources including the colonial and indigenous tangible and intangible African heritage are also becoming more important in the African tourism product mix today. Regarding the latter kind of heritage, its use and development for tourism in Africa is inherently endowed with complex dynamics both theoretically and practically, especially when the local perspectives are given central focus. This chapter provides a historic overview to highlight the development of heritage tourism in Africa, and position it in the global heritage politics. In this way, it highlights the critical paradoxes in heritage tourism development and practices across the continent from a local Africanist eye. The chapter argues that, at a time when many African government and international organisations are acknowledging the developmental significance of heritage tourism, the use of heritage for tourism within the paradoxical frameworks that are based on Western doctrines is problematic. The current heritage tourism frameworks result into marginalisation of African heritage and traditions and local communities – the primary custodians of heritage – in heritage tourism development, mistreatment of African heritage, and ambiguities in heritage tourism promotion and marketing programs. Such frameworks were indoctrinated during the massive slave trade and colonialism, and further amplified through the prevailing neocolonialism agenda. Their effect – often given a shallow deliberation in tourism impact literature – are not only detrimental to heritage tourism longevity and sustainability but also humiliating to the cultural pride and self-esteem of Africans. The chapter advises heritage tourism and conservation policymakers and practitioners to reconsider broader theoretical issues that translate the means under which they ascribe sites as national heritage, formulate heritage tourism plans, and treat and develop African heritage for tourism.

This chapter provides a historic overview to highlight the development of heritage tourism in Africa, and position it in the global heritage politics. It draws on local heritage concerns to provide an overview of critical issues facing heritage tourism in Africa, including prospects for developing heritage tourism, that appropriately integrate the local heritage narratives and practices. After independence from the late 1950s onward, most post-colonial African states had agendas of restoring lost cultural heritage that they held with high value and pride. The current heritage tourism frameworks result into marginalisation of African heritage and traditions and local communities – the primary custodians of heritage – in heritage tourism development, mistreatment of African heritage, and ambiguities in heritage tourism promotion and marketing programs. Such frameworks were indoctrinated during the massive slave trade and colonialism, and further amplified through the prevailing neocolonialism agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa
EditorsM. Novelli, E.A. Adu-Ampong, M.A. Riberio
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter4
Pages69-84
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781351022545
ISBN (Print)9781138496088
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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