The region along the Indian Ocean is among the world’s greatest regions for experiencing cultural and natural heritage

The region along the Indian Ocean is among the world’s greatest regions for experiencing cultural and natural heritage. Africa is a home to 135 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tourism has the potential to bring economic benefits to destinations, but it also generates impacts, that can negatively affect the environment and host communities. Tourism’s growth into a large-scale, global industry was its overarching success in the 20th century. Controlling demand and mitigating tourism’s impacts will be its challenge in the 21st century.

Cruise tourism is characterized by bringing large numbers of people to concentrated areas of destinations for brief periods, thus multiplying and concentrating the impacts. Cruise development may lead to loss of precious biodiversity and destruction of cultural heritage if infrastructure and itinerary development outpace monitoring and evaluation of environmental and cultural resources and fragility. The impact, challenges and implications of cruise tourism development are representative of our planet’s overall challenges in approaching economic development.

This paper presents a case for development of a Regional Cruise Tourism Strategy and seeks to spread awareness of sustainable development in cruise tourism, catalyze collaboration across the region and stimulate the strategic implementation of best practices and innovations.

The premise of sustainable tourism strategy is that the unique natural and cultural heritage offered by a destination is what generates its brand reputation, its value and what drives tourist demand. It is of utmost importance to manage growth to preserve the natural and cultural heritage assets of a destination and to sustain tourism’s long-term economic vitality.

The envisaged sustainable tourism strategies that can drive the new paradigm shift are as follows:

1. Approach regional cruise tourism development by focusing efforts on controlling demand, rather than stimulating it