Redesigning tourism policy and practices in Africa

Submitting Institution

University of Brighton

Unit of Assessment

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Tourism
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration

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Summary of the impact

Researchers at the University of Brighton have changed national tourism policy and workforce training practices in African countries. Working with international organisations, including the World Bank and UN agencies, the underpinning research has identified approaches for developing capacity and skills in the tourism workforce. As a consequence, the Nigerian Board of Technical Education redesigned the national curriculum for leisure, tourism and hospitality; the Namibia Tourism Board introduced customer service skills training; government guidelines for ecotourism development were produced in West Africa. In the Gambia the research led to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture developing service standards and establishing the €2.7m Gambia Tourism and Hospitability Institute.

Underpinning research

Over the last 13 years, a research programme integrating academic, policy and community-based participatory research has generated new knowledge and methodological developments related to tourism policy and planning in Africa. These are issues of continental importance, as Africa has been one of the fastest-growing tourism regions in the world, but policy and planning has been slow to respond to some of the human resource and development challenges.

Origins: Tourism policy and planning research originates from journal papers by BURNS [reference 3.1], NOVELLI [3.2] and BENSON [3.3] based on findings from applied empirical work funded by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). The findings demonstrated the inadequacy of traditional approaches in tourism policy and strategic planning for human and physical resource used both in developing and developed economies. BURNS' research focused on post-conflict, fragile and emerging economies. This theme was further researched in Africa by NOVELLI [3.4, 3.5] and by BENSON [3.3], who demonstrated the opportunities and challenges for linking the rapidly growing phenomenon of ecotourism and volunteer tourism to development. Further empirical research by NOVELLI and BURNS [3.5] revealed the importance of tourism network development and peer-to-peer capacity building aimed at workforce development and poverty alleviation in Africa.

Critical intervention: The researchers devised new methodological approaches that have also impacted upon tourism policy in Africa. A novel participatory research method, the Rapid Situation Analysis (RSA), was developed with funding from the ESRC (PTA-026-27-1451), and used to produce new knowledge on innovative ways in which tourism can contribute to local development [3.4]. Based on phenomenological principles, the RSA approach included workshops, in-depth interviews, collaborative community mapping and a range of public consultations aimed at investigating stakeholder perceptions and practice in local tourism systems. RSA demonstrated the importance of moving beyond largely Western conceived ideas for establishing who benefits from existing tourism activities, in order to give voice to those who experience tourism in some of the most remote rural and poverty stricken areas of the world. In this way indigenous voices can be embedded into both the micro- and the macro policymaking processes.

Impact expansion: RSA has been used subsequently in research funded by international organisations, including the World Bank, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The research has led to knowledge transfer, human capacity building and improvement of training and service standards in Africa. The significance of the research findings and methodological developments in the African context has been emphasised by the decision of the Aga Khan University to work with University of Brighton researchers in developing their executive tourism programme to be delivered at their new campus in East Africa.

Key researchers:

Angela Benson: Senior Lecturer (Jan 2004-Jul 2006), Principal Lecturer (Aug 2006-to date)
Peter Burns: Professor of Tourism and Development (Sept 2000–Sept 2013)
Christina Koutra: Research Officer (Sept 2007–Aug 2008)
Marina Novelli: Senior Lecturer (Sept 2002–Jul 2006), Principal Lecturer (Aug 2006–Jan 2013), Reader (Feb 2013–to date)

References to the research

[3.1] BURNS, P. (1999) Paradoxes in planning: tourism elitism or brutalism? Annals of Tourism Research, 26(2), pp.329-349. [Quality validation: output in leading peer-reviewed journal].


[3.2] NOVELLI, M., SCHMITZ, B and SPENCER, T. (2006) Networks, clusters and innovation in tourism: a UK experience. Tourism Management, 27 (6), pp.1141-1152. [Quality validation: output in leading peer-reviewed journal].


[3.3] CLIFTON, J. and BENSON, A.M. (2006) Planning for sustainable ecotourism: the case for research ecotourism in developing country destinations. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 14(3), pp.238-254. [Quality validation: output that has been through a rigorous peer-review process].


[3.4] NOVELLI, M., MORGAN, N. and NIBIGIRA, C., (2012) Tourism in a post-conflict situation of fragility. Annals of Tourism Research. 39(3), pp.1446-1469. [Quality validation: output in leading peer-reviewed journal].


[3.5] NOVELLI, M. and BURNS, P. (2010) Peer-to-Peer (P2P) capacity-building in tourism: values and experiences of field-based education. Development Southern Africa. 27(5), pp.741-756. [Quality validation: output that has been through a rigorous peer-review process].


Key research grant:

KOUTRA, `More Than Simply Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications of CSR for Tourism Development and Poverty Alleviation in Less Developed Countries' ESRC award, (PTA-026-27-1451), 2007-2008, total funding: £69,840.

Details of the impact

The underpinning research and participatory methods have impacted on policies that aim to address the lack of tourism and hospitality human resources capacity, which is key to any nation's successful tourism development.

The World Bank commissioned research into education, capacity building and training in Gambia, which led to a re-designed education and training policy. The research influenced the decision of the Spanish government to fund The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI), a national centre of excellence for tourism and hospitality education. The research provided: a feasibility assessment (2009) and business plan (2011) to direct policy, later implemented through `The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute Bill', which sought to create an enabling environment for Gambians to study up to the level of a Higher National Diploma in travel, tourism and hospitality. This bill was approved by the National Assembly in 2011 (source 5.8). Drawing upon the University of Brighton's recommendations, the GTHI was inaugurated in 2013 after an investment of €2.7m. The GTHI aims to train an average of 200 school leavers per year and upgrade the level of professional training amongst the 30,000 workers in tourism and hospitality, a sector that contributes 16% to the national GDP (5.1, 5.2).

UNESCO-funded research in Nigeria led to a new national curriculum for leisure, tourism and hospitality workforce training. As part of a larger project aimed at revitalising Nigeria's Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), in collaboration with the Nigeria Board of Technical Education (NBTE), NOVELLI produced a `Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality Curriculum Review' (2004), followed by a `Capacity Building/Train-the-Trainers Programme' (NOVELLI and BURNS 2009). This led to the adoption of new industry and employment-centred leisure, tourism and hospitality teaching materials and a new national curriculum replacing the previous redundant one, which dated back to colonial times. An evaluation of the material and curriculum undertaken by the NBTE concluded that the impacts had spread beyond Nigeria and that: `The tangible outcomes of the initiative have been accepted for adoption in the ECOWAS countries... Other counties outside the region, e.g. Libya, Bahrain, Ethiopia, etc. have also benefitted from its achievement and have used the curricula developed as part of their own national curricula.' (5.6).

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) contains 32 coastal states, where unsustainable tourism practices have already led to irreparable damage to fragile ecosystems and significant economic losses. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Global Environmental Facility (GEF), UNIDO and UNWTO have worked together to develop the Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) initiative targeting the sub-Saharan coastline. University of Brighton researchers were part of a consortium of five experts undertaking research in three of the nine COAST Demonstrator Projects. Research into `Best Available Practices/Technologies' in Nigeria, Gambia (NOVELLI) and Ghana (BENSON) led to the identification of training needs and government guidelines for ecotourism development. On this basis, COAST identified demonstrator sites and delivered, for example, targeted training and local initiatives in the village of Kartong (5.7). This research enabled local stakeholders to articulate a vision for tourism development in their village and contributed to the community's growing confidence in the future of that village. The process was transformative on both sides leading to direct and indirect support for local businesses, having far-reaching social and economic benefits within the wider community (5.3).

The Gambia Ministry of Tourism and Culture commissioned the research project GambiaHost that was aimed at the design of national tourism and hospitality service standards to improve destination competitiveness. NOVELLI facilitated participatory research with 67 industry stakeholders that identified the pitfalls of service standards and the mitigating actions required to address them. Drawing upon the recommendations from GambiaHost the Gambia Ministry of Tourism and Culture funded a follow-up 12-day `Train the Trainers Programme' with 40 staff from hotels and tourism-related institutions on Customer Service Skills and F&B Cost Control. The beneficiaries of this training will in turn train the rest of the employees on best practices on customer excellence in their respective hotels (5.2, 5.9).

The Commonwealth Secretariat funded a project into customer service capacity building in order to support the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) in implementing the 2011 `Tourism Human Resources Strategy for Namibia'. NOVELLI and Taylor led three `train-the-trainers' pilot programmes with 60 Namibians working in tourism, who then became NTB-certified trainers in January 2013 (5.5). Following the success of these programmes the NTB has commissioned a further project into customer services and the delivery of a Capacity Building Customer Service Training Programme that will train 25 tourism and shuttle operators and immigration officials in Swakopmund and Windhoek.

NOVELLI and BURNS were further commissioned to produce two research studies by the Aga Khan University (AKU) that produced recommendations on ways to bridge the gap in postgraduate and executive education in Africa. These led to AKU's strategic decision to invest in the establishment of a new tourism-focused graduate and research school in East Africa (5.4).

Sources to corroborate the impact

5.1 Testimonial available from Private Sector Development, The World Bank. This confirms the impact of the World Bank Project and the establishment of the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute.

5.2 Testimonial available from The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTC) of The Gambia. This confirms the development of the World Bank funded study for the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute and the MOTC funded GambiaHost Service Standards' Study.

5.3 Testimonial available from former Chair of Kartong Association for Responsible Tourism and proprietor of Sandele Eco-retreat and Learning Centre, The Gambia. This confirms the impact of the UNIDO COAST Project on local businesses and the local community.

5.4 Testimonial available from Senior Advisor, Aga Khan Development Network, Project Director Graduate School of Leisure and Tourism. This confirms the establishment of a new tourism-focused graduate and research school.

5.5 Testimonial available from Industry Human Resources Development Coordinator, Namibia Tourism Board. This confirms the impact of the customer service training and support with the implementation of the Tourism Human Resources Strategy for Namibia.

5.6 KAZAURE (2012) Impact Evaluation Study of the UNESCO-Nigeria TVE Revitalisation Project. Available at:
[Accessed: 8 November 2013]. This evaluation confirms that the impacts had travelled further than Nigeria. The evidence of expansion is quoted on page 7.

5.7 COAST (2012) Quarterly newsletter, Edition 1, October 2012. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013].
COAST (2013) Third Quarterly newsletter, June 2013. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013]. This confirms that COAST identified demonstrator sites and delivered targeted training and local initiatives in the village of Kartong.

5.8 Gambia Hotel school Bill press release. Dibba, A.G. (2011) Gambia: Tourism and Hospitality Institute Bill Passed. Foroyaa Newspaper, [online] 16 Dec 2012. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013] This provides confirmation that the Bill was passed.

5.9 Service Standards Development in The Gambia press release. Sallu, Y.S. (2012) Tourism Minister: Gambians are `Jewels'. Daily Observer [online] Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013]. This confirms the impact of continued training and enhancement of quality service standards.