ATLAS to Host Cultural Based Tourism Conference in Kenya


ATLAS is set to host an INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN Mombasa in Kenya.

Theme: “Cultural Tourism in Africa: Strategies for the New Millennium”
Venue: Whitesands Hotel, Mombasa, Kenya
Dates: December 13 – 17, 2000

The European Association for Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS) in collaboration with the association’s African Chapter are currently organising an international conference to be held in Mombasa, Kenya from 13th to 17th December, 2000. The conference will bring together scholars in tourism and leisure studies and other related areas from all over the world. Further, resource persons and practitioners in the tourism and leisure industry in Africa will also be invited to attend the conference. Thus, it will be a good meeting point between academicians and practitioners in the tourism industry from different parts of the world.


The main organisers of the conference are ATLAS ( whose head office is at Tilburg University, the Netherlands) and the Department of Tourism, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.

ATLAS was established in 1991 to promote transnational education in tourism and leisure studies. The association provides a forum to promote international staff and student exchange, to initiate research, to facilitate curriculum and professional development, and to exchange and disseminate information through conferences, seminars and workshops. Currently, ATLAS has over 140 members from over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. At the moment, the continental office of ATLAS-AFRICA is based at the Department of Tourism, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya. The Department offers tertiary level training in tourism management. The degree programme aims at producing professionals who can perform the functions of planning co-ordination, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of touristic activities in both public and private establishments including hotels, museums, cultural centres, parks, reserves, travel agencies, etc.


The theme of the conference is, “Cultural Tourism in Africa: Strategies for the New Millennium”.

Conference Themes

The following are among the proposed conference sub-themes:

Museums, ruins, archaeological sites, monuments and old towns (their preservations and development for tourism).

The development of indigenous craft industry for tourism and it’s probable economic and social-cultural impacts.

The development of landscapes and spatial locations of cultural / ritualistic value for tourism. The role of tour guides and interpretive information in the development of culture based tourism.

Marketing of culture based tourism products.

The development of religious tourism.

The development of rural tourism.

Impacts of tourism development on indigenous cultures.


With its diverse cultural and natural resources in each of the more than 50 countries and a population of over 700 million people, the African content has tremendous potential for the development of a viable domestic industry. According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) statistics, over 600 million international tourists travelled globally in 1998 and the industry generated an estimated $445 billion in revenue. This makes tourism a principal industry in the global economy. However, Africa’s present share of the global tourism industry is significantly below its potential in contributing to the sustainable economic development of the continent.

Another main characteristic of tourism development is the fact that despite immense and diverse potential, the development of tourism in most countries in Africa, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa is narrowly focused on the development of limited products based on wildlife and beach attractions. Consequently, Africa’s rich and diverse indigenous material & non-material cultures have not been appropriately developed for tourism.

For long term sustainable tourism development in African countries, there is need to diversify the range of tourism products, particularly by incorporating elements of the rich and diverse indigenous African cultures in the development of the industry. This will expand the range of tourist market segments and, thus, will enhance prospects of increasing tourism product demand. In addition, the development of culture based tourism has great potential of promoting intra and inter-country travel within and among different African countries. Furthermore, the development of authentic culture based tourism products may help in demystifying existing negative image and stereotypes of Africa as a ‘Dark Continent’.

Thus, the main aim of the conference is to help identify existing impediments in the development of culture based tourism in Africa. The conference will search for innovative and creative strategies for the development, promotion and marketing of culture based tourism in Africa in the new millennium.

Cultural tourism can be defined as the movement of tourists to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence, with the intention of gathering new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs. In the broadest sense, cultural tourism comprises all aspects of travel, whereby travellers learn about the history and heritage of others or about their contemporary ways of life. Thus culture may be history and heritage of others or about their contemporary ways of life. Thus culture may be perceived as contextual, where its role shapes the tourist’s experience of a situation in general. Cultural tourists learn about the products and processes of other cultures. Specifically the term cultural tourism has been used to describe the consumption of art, heritage, folklore and a whole range of other cultural manifestations. In the conference deliberations, cultural tourism will be taken in its broadest sense as it relates to the African context.

The following are some of the proposed conference sub-themes:

The development of a crafts industry and the building of heritage for tourism, its promotion, conservation, management and development for sustainable tourism in Africa. These include museums, ruins, archaeological sites, monuments and old towns. Papers can be presented on the current status of the craft industry and the build heritage in Africa (using case studies from specific countries or regions), cultural authenticity and commodification, and how to package and market culture for both domestic and international tourism.

The tourist-host community relationships in Africa: under this topic papers can be presented on the nature and current characteristics of tourist-host community encounter in Africa, indigenous community’s perception of tourists and its implications in the development of tourism in Africa, the socio-economic and cultural impacts of tourism development on African communities.

Other manifestations of culture and their promotion and development for tourism. These include indigenous festivals, music and dance, landscapes and spatial locations of cultural/ritualistic value.

Factors hindering the development of cultural tourism in Africa, the packaging of culture for tourism, interpretation and presentation of culture to tourists, marketing and promotion of cultural tourism, training of practitioners of cultural tourism, negative impacts of cultural tourism, the promotion and development of cultural tourism for cross-cultural understanding and international harmony.

Organizational Activities for the Conference

Already various activities have been put in place to advertise, market and raise funds for the Mombasa-2000 conference. The ATLAS secretariat in Europe is currently marketing the conference internationally via Internet, electronic mail transfer, brochures and TV advertisement. Also, the Africa Chapter secretariat at Moi University is currently conducting visitations to Kenyan tourism stakeholders, ministry officials and NGO’S to sensitive them on various aspects of the conference and, to request for their active participation. The stakeholders are also being requested to provide sponsorship for various conference activities (i.e to provide funds or sponsor local and international delegates/resource persons, cultural exhibitions, art performances and excursions to cultural sites in Mombasa and its environs, etc.). Further, contacts have been made with tourism institutions in Africa requesting for their participation and/or provision of sponsorship for certain aspects of conference activities. This will give the conference a broader African cultural touch. Also, the secretariat is in the process of forming a national steering committee to be in charge of organising and co-ordinating various conference activities.

Attendants to the Conference

Tourism Scholars
Tourism scholars, researchers and experts from international universities, middle level colleges, training and research institutions with interest (conducting teaching and research) in cultural tourism are expected to attend the conference. More so, the conference is expected to attract international tourism researchers and professional who have an interest in developing and initiating strategies to promote and market cultural tourism in Africa for long term sustainable development. In this connection, ATLAS is willing to sponsor 10 resource persons who are renowned experts in cultural tourism with special reference from different parts of African and the rest will be from Europe, North America and the rest of the world. Currently, extra funds are being sought to be used in sponsoring more resource persons.

Practitioners in the Tourism Industry
In important component of the conference is going to be private practitioners in the tourism industry. They include the hoteliers, tour operators, travel agencies and managers of recreation and leisure facilities among others. Most of these practitioners will be drawn from different regions of Africa. Also, representatives of indigenous communities and volunteer groups are expected to attend the conference, and present their viewpoints on different aspects of cultural tourism in Africa.

Government Officials
Government representatives of Ministries of Tourism from Eastern, Southern, Western and Northern Africa are also going to be invited to the conference. Their inputs on policy related issues on cultural tourism development in African would be central to the conference deliberations.

Main Conference Activities

Paper Presentations and Discussion
This is going to be one of the main activities of the conference. At least, not less than 50 scientific and issue-oriented papers are expected to be presented at the conference. The presentations will be of publishable quality and should deal with specific issues of cultural tourism development from the African perspective.

Cultural Performances, Displays and Exhibitions
Conference organisers are in the process of identifying indigenous cultural performance groups and cultural exhibitors to participate in the conference and present cultural performances and productions. This will provide a uniquely African cultural touch to the conference and, thus, an international conference of this magnitude should not only consist of paper presentations. However, due to logistics and the cost involved, most of the cultural performance groups will be mainly drawn from Kenya.

Cultural Excursion
At leat two cultural excursions will be undertaken during the conference. The excursions will enable conference participants to visit specific cultural sites in the Kenyan Coast (e.g. Fort Jesus, Old Mombasa Town and GED Ruins etc.). This will provide participants with first hand experiences of aspects of cultural tourism development in Kenya. Also, film and video presentations portraying various aspects of African culture and how it relates to tourism will be presented.

Conference Outputs

Official launching of the ATLAS-AFRICA Chapter with network representations of memberships drew from various tourism institutions in Africa.

A declarative document starting the way forward and containing proposals and strategies for funding of tourism projects on cultural tourism.

Compilation of conference proceedings to be published in book form. The processing and production of the book will be undertaken by ATLAS. The book will be marketed and circulated internationally.

Sources of Conference Speakers

  • Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Kenya Tourist Board
  • Museums of Kenya
  • Kenya Association of Tour Operators
  • Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers
  • Bomas of Kenya
  • Kenya Tourist Development Corporation
  • ATLAS-Europe
  • UNESCO representative
  • UNDP
  • African Development Bank
  • World Tourism Organization (WTO) representative
  • International Eco-tourism Society representative
  • Organisation of African Unity (OAU) representative

Representatives from the following regional associations COMESA (East, Central and Southern Africa)

  • East African Community
  • ECOWAS (West Africa)
  • North Africa
  • SADC (Southern African Development Corporation)
  • Ministries of Tourism from various African Countries

Delegates from the following International Bodies European Union (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries)

  • World Bank/International Monetary Fund
  • South to South Co-operation Organization
  • MHO-Tourism Nuffic Project
  • Universities/colleges with interest in tourism development
  • Research agencies/Institutions/Stakeholders/Practitioners with interest in tourism development