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The contact person for this group is:

  Wilber Ahebwa
  Makerere University






Annual review of activities 2018

As already mentioned in last year's overview, the 11th conference will be hosted by Makerere University and Makerere University Business School, both based in Kampala (Uganda), between 12 and 14 June 2019. This time the conference will focus on tourism and innovation. The growth and development of the travel and tourism industry has been characterised by countless innovations, which cut across the entire travel and tourism value chain. While innovation has become a buzzword in tourism practice, it is in many cases used without deeper reflection for anything that is moderately novel. In addition, scholarly work on innovation has been focusing on manufacturing industries and frequently has neglected the service sectors. Generally, the study of innovation in services and tourism in particular is still in its infancy and pioneering studies only appeared in the late 1990s. Given that many countries rely on tourism for their (economic) development, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of innovativeness in this sector, not least because innovative capability is a critical factor for industry evolution and survival in light of tight competition, rapid market change and the “contest for the tourist dollar”. This international conference therefore, aims at sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences among academicians, policy makers, entrepreneurs, governments, private sector organisations and general community interested in innovations travel and tourism. A large number of sub themes have been identified under which abstracts can be submitted.

René van der Duim

Chair of ATLAS




Annual review of activities 2017

In June 2017 we organised the 10th ATLAS Africa conference at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya, focusing on ‘Africa's Tourism and Travel Competitiveness: Opportunities and challenges’. The theme was selected on the premise that despite exponential growth of tourism in terms of earnings and visitor numbers, Africa still trails other continents in terms of tourist arrivals and receipts. More than 100 participants from Africa and abroad celebrated the fact that ATLAS Africa, founded in 2000, is still a vibrant community of scholars promoting leisure and tourism studies on the African continent. The 11th conference will be hosted by Makerere University and Makerere University Business School, both based in Kampala (Uganda) in June 2019.

The Steering Committee of ATLAS Africa welcomed Joseph Mbaiwa (University of Botswana), Aggie Weighill (Vancouver Island University) and Geoffrey Bakunda (Makerere University Business School) as new members. During their meeting it was decided to actively look for funding for joint research projects and to promote scientific publications based on conference presentations. Marina Novelli (University of Brighton) offered delegates of the ATLAS Africa conference to submit their papers to two journals of which she is Editor in Chief and Co-editor.

René van der Duim

Chair of ATLAS




Annual review of activities 2016

The last year the work of ATLAS Africa has been overshadowed by the untimely death of one of our colleagues: Dr Dorothea Meyer. Dorothea worked as Senior Lecturer in Tourism at Sheffield Hallam University where she made a very important contribution to the world’s knowledge of the political economy and development of tourism in less developed countries. Many of you will have known Dorothea through her longstanding international reputation and presence as author, journal editor, reviewer, researcher, consultant, external examiner, doctoral student supervisor, project leader or team member in partnership bids, guest lecturer, conference organiser, panellist and presenter, collaborator in all aspects of academic life.

Personally, Dorothea and I worked together a lot in the framework of ATLAS Africa. Dorothea played a very significant role in the development of this ATLAS chapter and actively participated in most of the 9 conferences organized so far. Together with Jarkko Saarinen, Dorothea and I developed in 2008 an EU project with 6 African universities, in the framework of which we travelled together to countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Rwanda and edited a book titled New Alliances for Tourism, Conservation and Development in Eastern and Southern Africa. This EU project has been very instrumental in the development of ATLAS Africa and significantly contributed to the academic growth of tourism studies in Africa as many of the 12 young African scholars participating in this EU project now have obtained a PhD-degree or are about to do so. Dorothea always showed great interest in their work and developed an extensive academic network in Eastern and Southern Africa. Recently, she executed a photo-ethnographic research with female Zanzibari craft producers, the link to which is We will miss her support and inspiration to colleagues and students, and a highly valued colleague and friend.

As already explained in the coordinators report, preparations for the 10th ATLAS Africa conference in 2017, are underway. The theme of the 10th ATLAS Africa conference, which will be held between Wednesday 7th and Friday 9th June, 2017 at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya, focuses on ‘Africa's Tourism and Travel Competitiveness: Opportunities and challenges’.

René van der Duim

Chair of ATLAS




Annual review of activities 2015

2015 Dar-es-Salaam conference

The theme of the 9th ATLAS Africa conference focused on the relation between tourism and inclusive growth. Although inclusive growth as a concept is increasingly discussed by academics, international agencies and politicians, linking inclusive growth explicitly to tourism is a relatively new development. Some of the key issues addressed by the concept of inclusive growth are the inclusion of low and middle income groups in the workforce, the creation of productive employment, the promotion of equal opportunities and the reduction of the distribution of inequality as economic growth continues. Although inclusive growth is centred on economic growth, mechanisms driving inclusive growth are not primarily economic, but social, environmental and political as well. Keynotes by Richard Rugimbana (Tanzania), Hannah R. Messerli (USA) and Susan Snyman (South Africa) gave a very good overview of current state of knowledge on inclusive growth. We wish to thank the staff of the University of Dar es Salaam Business School for organising this conference and their hospitality.

Top twenty” (in no specific order) key challenges and opportunities

At the conclusion of the conference, conference participants and a panel chaired by Ernie Heath identified a “top twenty” (in no specific order) key challenges and opportunities that could impact on tourism and inclusive growth in developing economies in Africa (that could be placed on the future tourism research agenda):

1. The perception and reality of tourism safety, security and health issues (e.g. Ebola) should be addressed as strategic priority at all levels for destinations that are serious about enhancing their tourism competitiveness. This should also be a future research priority.

2. The current composition of the tourism value chain in many developing destinations is not conducive to inclusive growth. A strategic evaluation is required to identify and pro-actively address key weak linkages and enhance and leverage those that can add value to Africa’s tourism competitiveness.

3. In various instances, appropriate infrastructure development presents both a major challenge and an opportunity. Convenient and affordable accessibility by air, sea and road is often an impediment. The ability to “seamlessly” travel in and between countries and regions requires strategic research and if appropriately addressed can become a unique selling proposition (USP) for destinations in Africa.

4. In many instances the tourism product range is too limited (often the focus is too much on the wildlife experience) and therefore only appeals to limited market segments. Given Africa’s rich diversity of natural, cultural and adventure offerings, which could appeal to a wide spectrum of global special interest “experience seeker” segments, appropriate research is required to explore innovative ways to broaden the product offering (particularly special-interest experiences) in an imaginative and creative way and to explore ways in which these experiences can be packaged and themed to appeal to a broader base of local, regional and international tourist market segments.

5. Sustainability will increasingly have to be addressed as a non-negotiable cross- cutter by both public and private sector stakeholders and importantly, across the entire value chain. Appropriate research will increasingly be required regarding, for example, the impact of climate change, the responsible management of scarce natural resources, etc.

6. In some instances unfavourable policies, strategies and institutional frameworks are in place, resulting in “planning and analysis paralysis” and unnecessary red tape, which hampers inclusive growth and competitiveness. Appropriate research is required regarding relevant “best-practice” policies, strategies and effective institutional frameworks, which can serve a frame of reference for developing destinations.

7. In many instances tourism is not appropriately “balanced”, resulting in an inequitable distribution of tourism benefits and revenues. Strategic research is required to identify the key issues and provide guidelines for balancing community, industry, tourist and environmental interests and beneficiation in a responsible and future-orientated manner.

8. On a global basis there appears to be a trend away from pure economic growth to responsible and inclusive development. Research is required to determine the challenges and opportunities and possible guidelines for public and private sector tourism stakeholders to focus on responsible and inclusive tourism development in Africa.

9. Appropriate human resources development and capacity building remains a key challenge and priority in developing economies. Appropriate research is required regarding current and future tourism human resources needs, priorities, strategies and best practices, to ensure optimal inclusive growth and sustainable competitiveness.

10. The exponential growth of mobile technology, the World Wide Web and the social media provides major windows of opportunity for developing economies, particularly from a tourism marketing and communications perspective. Relevant research is required to evaluate the key opportunities in the technological sphere and to provide strategic and implementation guidelines for tourism stakeholders to optimally leverage these opportunities.

11. The traditional “tour operator” and “package tourism” situation results in considerable “leakages”, with insufficient benefits and revenue accruing to local stakeholders. Research is required to determine the nature and impact of current distribution channels and to explore innovative and future-oriented ways to ensure that local communities and industry stakeholders equitably share in the benefits and impacts of tourism.

12. The perception and reality of political instability and continuity in various developing economies is a major inhibitor to tourism investment, development and marketing. Research is required regarding the impacts and implications of the political environment and possible strategies to develop and marketing tourism in spite of the political challenges.

13. In many instances, politicians and public and private sector opinion leaders and stakeholders do not understand and appreciate the actual impacts and benefits of tourism to a destination. Research is required to quantify the role and socio-economic impacts of tourism on developing economies, as well as the economic value of sustainable tourism relative to other sectors.

14. The dynamically changing macro, competitive and market environments are posing many new challenges and opportunities to developing economies and requires a culture of fresh, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and action. Research is required regarding the key lessons from successful leading innovative and entrepreneurial destinations that can be appropriately applied to developing tourism destinations.

15. As the tourism marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive, developing destinations will increasingly have to resort to distinctive branding and clear competitive positioning in the markets that they target. Research is required regarding the latest trends, developments and best-practices regarding destination branding and competitive positioning that can serve as a frame of reference for developing destinations.

16. The traditional tourism marketing approaches and tools are increasingly being complemented and in many instances replaced by innovative and cost-effective web-based marketing tools, with an increasing power-shift to the consumer (e.g. through the social media). Research is required regarding the relevance and cost-effectiveness of the traditional versus the new media and possible strategic guidelines on how to effectively market developing destinations in the future.

17. In some developing destinations, there is increasing concern that very fragile and valuable natural and historical-cultural tourism attractions and resources are being neglected or destroyed. Urgent research and a strategic “audit” is required of current and potential attractions and resources, as well as guidelines on how to ensure that they are protected and where possible further enhanced in a sustainable manner.

18. In many developing economies there are comprehensive and often outdated tourism policies, master plans and strategies in place with insufficient focus on implementation. The need to balance comprehensive policies, plans and strategies with realistic action and actual implementation plans needs to be researched.

19. In many developing economies population growth has a major impact on destination competitiveness. Research is required regarding the relationship between population growth and sustainable tourism development, with a view to ensuring the most balanced and appropriate approaches and strategies for the future.
20. Academic tourism researchers will increasingly be challenged to undertake research that is relevant and future-orientated. The challenge will increasingly be to create knowledge that can contribute to appropriate planning, development, management and marketing of tourism on the part of both public and private sector stakeholders, so as to enhance sustainable tourism competitiveness and inclusive growth. In this regard political and funding issues related to academic research should also be addressed as a priority.

New publications

In 2014-2015 also a number of new publications were issued. First of all again a thematic proceeding of ATLAS Africa conferences (Volume 9) was published, titled Sustainability, Tourism and Africa: A natural link. A 10th Volume will be issued later this year. Two other publications which discuss the current state of tourism in Africa, in which also contributions of ATLAS Africa members can be found, are:


René van der Duim

Chair of ATLAS




Annual review of activities 2014

The best news this year is the publication of a special issue, which emerges from the ATLAS Africa Conference held in Kigali Rwanda.

   African tourism & hospitality in global society: Central or peripheral?
   Tourism and Hospitality Research (Sage)
   Special Double Issue 2014; Vol. 14, No. 1-2
   Edited by:
   Dr Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa (Makerere University, Uganda) – Chair of ATLAS Africa
   Dr Marina Novelli (University of Brighton, UK)

Tourism in Africa and particularly, in the Sub-Saharan Africa is growing at a rate faster than the global tourism industry growth rate (Katongore et al., 2014). The International Monetary Fund (2013) viewpoint for the region remains broadly positive as a gross domestic product growth at 4.75% was registered in 2012, with projected increases to 5.5% for 2013 and 6% for 2014. This implies that Africa is gaining popularity as a long haul destination.

According to a recent World Bank (2013) publication, tourism can be a powerful and meaningful development path for Africa. In fact, a welcome key finding of new research suggests that with effective planning and development, Africa’s tourism industry could create 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years, with already, one in every 20 jobs in Africa involves the tourism, travel hospitality industry.

Despite this seemingly impressive picture and percentage growth rate, while in the year 2012, the international tourist arrivals totalled to over 1.035 billion, Africa’s market share was only 52 million which is 5% of the global figure (United Nations World Tourism Organisation, 2012).

This gloomy percentage raises a question whether African tourism and hospitality sector is actually central or peripheral in the global context, a question, which we attempt to address in this special issue, which emerges from the ATLAS Africa Conference held in Kigali Rwanda (3-5 June 2013) and includes the following papers:


African tourism and hospitality in global society: Central or peripheral?
Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa and Marina Novelli


Spatial analysis of tourism income distribution in the accommodation sector in western Uganda
Bright Adiyia, Dominique Vanneste, Anton Van Rompaey, and Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa

Negotiating gender and tourism work: Women’s lived experiences in Uganda
Brenda Boonabaana

The impact of ecotourism employment on rural household incomes and social welfare in six southern African countries>
Susan Snyman

Tourism in the East African Community (EAC): Challenges, opportunities, and ways forward
Moses M Okello and Marina Novelli

Proud to be Dogon: An exploration of the local perspective on cultural tourism and cultural heritage management in Dogon country, Mali
Rosalie E van Deursen and Wendy F Raaphorst

The potential for coffee tourism development in Rwanda – Neither black nor white
Karthick Anbalagan and Brent Lovelock

Publish or perish: African scholarship in the field of tourism and hospitality studies
Aaron KB Yankholmes

Fair Trade Learning: Ethical standards for community-engaged international volunteer tourism
Eric Hartman, Cody Morris Paris, and Brandon Blache-Cohen

Book review

Walter van Beek and Annette Schmidt (eds.), African hosts and their guests: Cultural dynamics of tourism.
Claudia Dolezal

Tourism and Hospitality Research THR (Sage Journal) is firmly established as an influential and authoritative journal for tourism and hospitality researchers and professionals. THR covers applied research in the context of Tourism and Hospitality in areas such as policy, planning, performance, development, management, strategy, operations, marketing and consumer behavior. We accept papers in other areas within the context of tourism and hospitality provided the paper delivers research with significant implications for tourism and hospitality. Each issue of Tourism and Hospitality Research publishes: detailed, authoritative applied research papers from researchers and practitioners worldwide. We also accept industry Case Studies; Research Notes; Conference Reports; Practitioner Briefings; and Book Reviews that are addressing key issues, challenges and innovative aspects of tourism and hospitality. For more information about Tourism and Hospitality Research, please visit We look forward to receiving your valuable contribution to THR.

The Editorial Team
Dr Marina Novelli, Dr Clare Weeden and Ioannis Pantelidis, Merz Hoare





Annual review of activities 2013

Whereas the economic situation in Europe negatively influences numbers of members and conference participants, in Africa the situation seems more favourable. The recent ATLAS Africa conference in Rwanda attracted 158 participants, mainly from Eastern and Southern Africa and Europe. It reflects the importance of tourism for economic development in Africa. Increasing tourist arrivals and spending, even during the recent economic crisis, shows tourism’s significant potential for growth. Between 2009 and 2010, despite the global financial slowdown, international tourists arrivals in Africa jumped by almost 8 percent, making the region the second fastest growing in the world after East Asia and the Pacific. According to a recent World Bank report (see:, tourism can be a powerful development path for Africa. In fact, a welcome key finding of new research suggests that with effective planning and development, Africa’s tourism industry could create 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years. Already, one in every 20 jobs in Africa involves tourism and the travel industry.

Rwanda clearly illustrates these potentials (see: During 2010, Rwanda hosted 666,000 visitors. Comparing 2009 to 2010, international visitors increased by 10% . Obviously the great majority still came from the neighbouring countries with 80% of all visitors. However, in the Non-African markets visitors from Europe increased by 15%, while visitors from Americas increased by 18% compared to 2009. Visitors from the rest of the world including Asia and pacific increased by 27%.  It was therefore timely that the newly established Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) organized the 8th ATLAS Africa conference, titled African Tourism in Global Society: Central or Peripheral?, which took place from 3-5 June 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda. This conference turned out to be one of the most successful conference ever organized by ATLAS Africa. The large number of participant reflects the increase of tourism scholars in Africa. But the conference also illustrated the ever-increasing quality of tourism research in Africa now that educational and research programmes in universities in countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have found solid ground. A very interesting feature of the Kigali 2013 ATLAS Africa conference was the high number of postgraduate students from especially Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South-Africa whose various researches covered pertinent issues on sustainable tourism, biodiversity conservation and local community participation. The students presented their research findings in panel presentations. The conference also assisted RTUC to put itself on the map of not only Rwanda, but also the rest of Eastern Africa. Keynote presentations were delivered by Ms. Rica Rwigama, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, Prof. Richard Sharpley of the University of Central Lancashire and Prof. Moses Makonjio Okello, senior Director of the SFS Centre for Wildlife Management Studies. The conference was officially closed by the Minister of Education, Dr. Vincent Biruta, and the Dutch Ambassador. We would like to thank Callixte Kabera, Rector of the Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC), his entire staff and staff members of InHolland University of Applied Sciences for organizing this successful event in Kigali.

During the conference the Board of ATLAS Africa also discussed the publication strategy. So far the proceedings of the 7 conferences were published in 7 different Volumes (please see ATLAS website). Volume 8 and 9, consisting of the proceedings of the conference in Kampala, will be published soon. For the Kigali conference it was decided that papers will be published in a special issue in the Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research,  the newly established African Journal of Tourism and Hospitality of MOI University Press,  and  - if necessary – in a  new Volume of the ATLAS Africa series.

One of the key roles of ATLAS Africa and indeed the whole network of ATLAS is to promote education and research in tourism and leisure related studies through the holding of conferences, symposia and workshops. Towards that end, ATLAS Africa has over the years held 8 successful conferences in different African countries. In the meeting of the ATLAS Africa Board during this year’s ATLAS conference it was decided to organize the next conference in 2015 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

René van der Duim

Chair of ATLAS




Annual review of activities 2010

We are quite pleased to inform the ATLAS fraternity in different parts of globe that ATLAS-Africa has really spread its wings and now has membership drawn from different parts of the African continent and beyond. This includes parts of Western and Northern Africa where there has been least representation. Also, as the Coordinator of ATLAS-Africa, it is important to inform the membership that, at the beginning of 2009, I relocated from Moi University where I had served as a long-term senior member of the Department of Tourism Management. Currently, I am serving as the Principal of Kisii University College situated in the evergreen environment and the rolling hills of Southwestern Kenya, not far from the country’s border with Tanzania.

The Institution is a Constituent College of Egerton University one of the largest Public University in Kenya. I would also like to state that Kisii University College is the newest member of the ATLAS fraternity having received it membership a fortnight ago. It is the aim of the Kenyan Government to develop the institution into a full-fledged University to cater for the increasing population of Kenyan youths seeking university admission.

Recent accomplishments

As a Chapter of the umbrella Association, ATLAS-Africa has made several accomplishments in the recent past. We have managed to hold extremely successful international conferences in different parts of Africa including, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda and Botswana. An interesting feature of these conferences is the fact that it they have managed to attract delegates from all parts of the world including Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Currently, ATLAS-Africa has created an effective network of institutions of higher learning and research centers throughout Africa. This network of academic institutions is involved in various initiatives as per the goals of ATLAS including conducting joint research activities in the field of tourism, leisure and other related areas, curricula development, sharing of the state-of-the-art research findings on tourism, student and staff exchange. For instance, presently, several African Universities including Moi University in Kenya, Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the Institute of Finance and Banking in Rwanda are undertaking joint research projects such as VicRes, DelPh and the 3-Step project. These major research projects have provided noble opportunity amongst African scholars to work closely in aspects of proposal writing, fieldwork, publication and dissemination of research findings.

Botswana conference

This conference was held on 1st to 3rd July 2009 in the congenial hill dotted City of Gaborone the Capital and Seat of the Government of Botswana. The City is one the most ultra-modern Urban conurbation in Africa with many modern and uniquely designed high-raise buildings, high-class roads, railway and airline infrastructure. The University of Gaborone, one of the largest institutions of higher learning in Southern Africa hosted the conference. The University is strategically located not far away from the CBD of the City of Gaborone and is quite renowned, especially in the southern Africa region, for its high quality manpower that the institution trains including in the field of tourism and hospitality. The University has also, in recent years, attracted distinguished scholars from different parts of the world who are involved in teaching, research, dissemination of knowledge and skills, and community extension.

The Botswana Conference was sponsored and jointed organized by ATLAS, the International Geographical Union (IGU), Leisure and Global Change and the Government of Botswana through the University of Gaborone. The main theme of the conference was, “tourism for development: environmental sustainability, poverty reduction and empowerment of communities.”

The conference attracted over 100 delegates from different parts of the world. However, due to proximity the majority of the delegates came from African countries, especially South Africa and Kenya, and of course the host country. The conference was officially opened by the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in the Government of Botswana, Honourable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, himself a renowned expert in the field of tourism management and wildlife conservation.

The Honourable Minister eloquently elucidated issues as regards the role of tourism in promotion of overall national development and poverty reduction in Botswana and Africa in general. He ascertained that as the case is with many other African countries, tourism is a leading foreign exchange earner for Botswana second to mineral exports. The industry accounts for over 13% of formal and informal employment and overall contributes close to 15% of the country’s GDP. However, the Minister consented that for the country’s tourism industry to remain competitive in the highly volatile global tourism industry there is urgent need for Botswana to diversify its tourism product away from the conventional wildlife based tourism. Apart from the Minister, other high level dignitaries including top Government officials, Members of Management of the University of Gaborone, private sector representatives and officials of foreign missions in Botswana attended the conference.

Overall, the papers that were presented in the conference covered diverse topics including the development of e-tourism, cultural and social tourism, desert tourism in Northern Africa, heritage tourism, rural tourism, sport tourism, agro-tourism, pro-poor tourism, destination management, ecotourism and CBT models. The main theme that ran through most of the papers is sustainable tourism development, environment conservation and community empowerment.

Although papers were presented covering other parts of the world, the main aim of the conference was to discuss and share innovative ideas concerning the relationship between tourism and sustainable development in the African context. In this regard, presentations covered sub-themes such as the benefits and costs of tourism development amongst rural African communities, nature conservation in Africa, the nature and role of tourism development in Africa, sustainable tourism development and the impacts of tourism on the natural and cultural African landscape, and innovative strategies to utilize tourism for the attainment of the MDGs. Perhaps more importantly, the Botswana Conference served as an open forum for the exchange of innovative information and views amongst academicians, policy makers, tourism practitioners, community and nature conservation managers and planners.

Last but not least, as is the tradition of the ATLAS-Africa Conferences, the last day of the conference entailed participation of delegates in field trips to carefully selected areas adjacent to the host institution. In this regards, the delegates had a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit model community based tourism establishments in the rural African environment in areas not far away from the City of Gaborone including the famed Mmenkgodi Cultural Village which is co-owned and managed by an association of widows and Bahurutshe Village specialized in Botswana handicraft making and traditional art performances.

During these visitations delegates had the opportunity to be involved in participatory tourism initiatives including Botswana traditional dance, mimicry of Botswana traditional wedding ceremony where Leontine Onderwater served as an Africa bride and other delegates serves as traditional dancers and beer drinkers.

The visitation to the cultural villagers was crowned by delegates being served with sumptuous traditional Botswana meals usually served during indigenous wedding ceremonies. The cuisine included uniquely cooked indigenous beef, Botswana indigenous bread made from finger millet, indigenous tea made from wild herbs that have got medicinal potency and of course traditional brew. The meal was served in the open wilderness of southwestern Botswana environment renowned by its diverse wildlife species and unique cultural attractions.

Future events and acknowledgement

Finally it is my great pleasure to announce to the ATLAS membership that before the end of this year (2010), two thematic publications covering selected papers of the Botswana conference are going be out of press. The books are at the final stages of publication and members are encouraged to order copies from the ATLAS Secretariat in Arnhem, Netherlands. There are also plans to have the next ATLAS Africa conference in one of the West Africa countries, possible Gambia or Ghana. Lastly, it will be impudent to end this report without acknowledging the critical role played by the following institutions in promoting the overall sustainability of ATLAS Africa since its inception: Wageningen University, Moi University, the ATLAS Secretariat, University of Pretoria and Makerere University. I also would like to most sincerely thank all the members of the ATLAS Africa Board for their indivertible role in moving the Association to greater heights. For any further information, I can be reached at or




Annual review of activities 2009

John Akama
Moi University, Kenya


As Co-ordinator of ATLAS-Africa, I would like to take this particular opportunity to convey my sincere greetings to all the memberships of ATLAS Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa and, also, extend my deep appreciation to the import role each membership is playing in supporting and promoting the noble Agenda of ATLAS, especially in areas of networking, promotion of innovative tourism research initiatives and dissemination of critical research information, staff and student exchange and promotion of conferences, workshops and symposia in different parts of the world. In all those aspects, the Umbrella ATLAS membership has assisted in the enhancement of knowledge creation, skills development and promotion of professionalism in the field of tourism, leisure and recreation studies. In this regard, ATLAS as, over the years, proven to be, perhaps, the only tourism association with global membership and networks touching almost all corner of the globe including the remotest parts of the Third World.

After that prove statement of appreciation, the remaining part of this report will provide a brief exposé of ATLAS Africa’s main activities in the year 2008.

3A-STEP Project

ATLAS Africa is associate partner in the 3A-STEP project. This project is a new step in the solid and ongoing cooperation between ten universities in Europe and Africa: Makerere University (Uganda), Moi University (Kenya), School of Finance and Banking (Rwanda), University of Botswana (Botswana), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), University of Namibia (Namibia), Pretoria University (South Africa), University of Oulu (Finland), Sheffield Hallam University (UK) and Wageningen University (The Netherlands). A special and innovative feature of the 3A-STEP project is the close cooperation with three associate organisations: African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS) Africa.

These universities and organisations are coming together in this project to increase the competitiveness and excellence of Southern and Eastern African Higher Education Institutions in research and education in the overlapping fierlds of sustainable tourism development, environmental sustainability and poverty reduction.
With successful completion of 3A-STEP the following three results will have been achieved:

• An active (inter)regional and international institutionalized research network focusing on the relation between sustainable tourism development and the research fields of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability has been established.
• The academic relevance and excellence in education of African partners around the central theme of sustainable tourism development related to poverty reduction and environmental sustainability has been improved.
• The Regional Southern and Eastern African Young Leaders Team on Sustainable Tourism Development has been recruiting, extensively trained, well-coached and is active in research, thereby contributing to regional cooperation in higher education. Opportunities for excellence and up-to-date socio-economic development options using sustainable tourism in Southern and Eastern Africa.

  For more information on the 3A-STEP project please visit


ATLAS Africa conferences

Last year, most of the ATLAS-Africa frontier was relatively quiet in the area of conference, workshops and symposia. After the Association held an extremely successful Kampala 2007 Conference in Uganda (the conference was held in the greenery and congenial environment of Makerere University—one of the oldest centre of tertiary learning and training in Africa) it was decided by the ATLAS-Africa Board that due to the high costs, especially huge financial outlays, required in the organization of successful conference activities, 2009 was going to be given a pass as we tailored our efforts towards the planning and execution of ATLAS-Africa 2009 conference. The Board also decided that since most ATLAS-Africa conferences have been held, exclusively, in the East Africa region mainly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the next bi-annual ATLAS Africa conference should be held in a venue situated outside the East Africa region. In this regard, the Board members agreed unanimously that the next conference should be held in the Capital City of Botswana (Gaborone) in the convenes of the beautiful built and dynamic University of Botswana, the largest institution of higher learning in the country.

Botswana 2009 ATLAS Africa Conference
At this juncture, it is important to note the country of Botswana in one of Africa’s success story in terms of political and socio-economic development, and overall governance. However, perhaps more importantly, it should be stated that the holding of this year’s conference in Botswana was really possible when the Executive Board of the International Geographic Union (IGU) agreed to co-sponsor the Botswana conference with ATLAS-Africa. Furthermore, the Management of the University of Botswana agreed, magnanimously, to provide the venue for the conference.

The main theme of the ATLAS-Africa 2009 Botswana Conference is, “tourism for development: environmental sustainability, poverty reduction and empowering communities. The dates of the conference are from the 1st to 3rd July 2009. To date, response of delegates to the conference has been quite encouraging and we look forward to holding a very successful conference as the case has been with other ATLAS- Africa conferences; since the year 2000 when the Association held its inaugural conference in the East African Coastal town of Mombasa, a leading tourist destination in Africa.

The overall goals of the Botswana 2009 ATLAS Africa conference are as follows:
• Discuss the nature and roles of tourism development in the African contexts.
• Explore the benefits and costs of tourism development for communities and nature conservation.
• Examine the role of tourism in sustainable development and the impacts of tourism in nature and cultural landscapes.
• Explore various ways of utilising tourism for the achievement of MDGs in different scales.
• Develop new approaches to utilise tourism for development and especially for sustainable development.
• Analyse contemporary issues, practices and future changes and challenges (such as global climate change or innovation policy needs) in tourism development and sustainability.
• Provide an open forum for the exchange of views among academicians, policy makers, community and nature conservationists, area planners and professionals.

As has been the tradition, selected papers for the Botswana 2009 ATLAS-Africa conference will be considered for publication in an edited book. Also, a special issue of a selected Journal and publication in ATLAS-Africa conference proceedings will be undertaken. For more information concerning the conference kindly visit the ATLAS website at

Creation of south-to-south partnership

Through the ATLAS-Africa networks, an idea was mooted by its membership on encouraging and supporting selected institutions of higher learning in Eastern Africa in developing a collaborative project proposal on the development of pro-poor tourism in Africa and seek possible overseas funding for the research project. After further extensive discussions and consultation amongst the ATLAS Africa member institutions, Makerere University, University Dar esalaam, Moi University and Kigali Institute of Banking and Finance were, eventually, selected as the collaborating institutions in the proposed pro-poor tourism project.

Through the stewardship of Dorothea Meyer of Sheffield University in the United Kingdom, a project proposal was compiled and submitted to the DelPHE programme, which is supported by British Council for possible funding. After undergoing a competitive peer reviewing process, the project was given a node for funding. Since its initiation, the project has been on the ground for duration of about one-and-half years with representatives of the selected East African institutions of higher learning being actively involved in various project activities and assignments. The project has co-opted 2 consultants from the North who provide expertise and professional advice. These tourism professionals are, Dorothea Meyer of Sheffield University and René van der Duim of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. The overall day-to-day administration and management of the project is being undertaken by representations from the Department of Geography and Tourism, Makerere University spearheaded by Prof. Baker Nyakaana.

Among the critical activities that are being undertaken in this project they include conducting collaborative research and dissemination of knowledge, skills and competencies on pro-poor tourism initiatives in Africa, holding of workshops and symposia, staff and student exchange and the awarding and commencement of 3 PhD Scholarships (one each from the Universities of Makerere, Moi and Dar esalaam.

From tourism professor to being a principal of a university college in Kenya

I am pleased to inform the ATLAS fraternity that at the beginning of this year, I was appointed (through competitive sourcing)as Principal of Kisii University College in Southwestern Kenya within the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa. The University College in situated in a scenic environment of the Southwestern Kenya Highland region with unique and magnificent rolling adulating hills, cascading rivers and natural streams, green tropical canopy and lash agricultural farmlands and dense human settlements.

However, as is the tradition in Kenyan public universities, I am still a tourism professor of Moi University, Department of Tourism and Tour Operations Management. Consequently, I have been seconded by the Kenya Government to occupy the position of Principal of Kisii University College for a given timeframe. One of my major briefs from the Kenya Government is to endeavour to develop the institution into the status a fully-fledged University in a duration not exceeding five years, an extremely challenging task at the very least. However, since my appointing in the beginning of the year, there has been a lot of goodwill from various stakeholders including government officials, fellow academicians, politicians, civic and church leader, and community representatives. This has greatly assisted in lightening the heavyburden placed on my shoulders.

Last but not least, since I am still a member of Moi University Department of Tourism and Tour Operations Management (the home of ATLAS-Africa Secretariat), it has been agreed that I should continue being co-ordinator of ATLAS-Africa in the time being.

For more information concerning ATLAS-Africa please feel free to contact the Co-ordinator of the Association John S. Akama (email: and/or you can visit the ATLAS Webside as indicated above.




Annual review of activities 2007

The ATLAS-Africa Board is pleased to report that ATLAS-Africa has now become of age. The membership of the association is currently over 50 institutions spread over Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa. We are still trying to market and recruit new membership, especially in Central and Western Africa. ATLAS-Africa stands as a unique association in the African continent since there are few association in the continent that are involved in the development and advancement of tourism and leisure research and education, curricula development, staff exchange and organization of conferences and symposia.

Conference Activities

In the last 7 years, ATLAS-Africa has managed to organize 5 successful international conferences that were held in different African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Most of these conferences have been well attended attracting delegates from most parts of the world.

The fourth ATLAS-Africa conference was held on 16th to 18th February 2006 in Mombasa, Kenya. This was the second conference to be held in this congenial East Africa city which forms the hub of the flourishing Kenyan tourism industry. The Mombasa conference attracted over 50 delegates that were drawn from different parts of the world. Apart from participation in presentation of papers and panel discussions, delegates were encouraged to participate in various outdoor recreational activities and the active social life of this Indian Ocean coastal city. In particular, delegates sampled various aspects of African hospitality including indigenous dance and music, water sports, visitations to Haller Park, Fort Jesus and model African villages. The young at heart, did not miss the opportunity to sample the unique nightlife of Mombasa such as visitation to Mamba village and Tembo discotheque.

At the end of the conference, several delegates visited Kenya’s world famous hinterland national parks, particularly Tsavo East, Amboseli and Masai Mara where they participated in Wildlife Safari. Also, delegates who had the opportunity to visit Kenya’s hinterland managed to sample various aspects of indigenous African cultures including the Bomas of Kenya Cultural Centre, Masai Manyattas in Southern Kenya and village tourism in Central Kenya.

The fifth ATLAS-Africa conference will be held in the magnificent green city of Kampala in the Africa heartland of Uganda, which the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described as the ‘Pearl of Africa’. The conference will be held on 27th – 29th October, 2007, and is being sponsored by Makerere University and SNV-Uganda. The theme of the conference is “Tourism and Wealth Creation”. Already over 60 Abstracts have been submitted for the conference.

The goal of the conference is to discuss how tourism can be used as a major economic strategy to create wealth and alleviate poverty in the Africa. The conference will focus on tourism resource use to create wealth, business and entrepreneur creation, new policy formulation and revenue generation. For more information concerning the conference contact the ATLAS Website:


With the main goal of promoting research, knowledge creation and dissemination of information, ATLAS-Africa has in the last 7 years mad a number of publications. Most to these publications have been drawn from the previous conference proceedings. After its inaugural conference which was held in 2000 in Mombasa, Kenya, the papers of the conference were published in a book entitled: ‘Cultural Tourism in Africa: Strategies for the new millennium,’ edited by J.S. Akama and P. Sterry (2002).

ATLAS-Africa is also planning a series of publications. The first volume of this series, entitled, tourism and nature in Africa, edited by M. Smith and L. Onderwater (2006) is already out. The other two volumes dealing with ‘Local community participation in tourism,’ and ‘Aspects of tourism in Kenya’ are going to be out soon. The 3 volumes present the state of the art of predominantly applied research on African tourism. Last but not least, a scientific publication on tourism in Africa by Wels, Wishitemi and Spenceley will be out in late 2007.

Research Project Activities

Through the ATLAS-Africa network, a number of institutions of higher learning in Eastern and Southern Africa have now established close collaboration. A good example is the close collaboration which currently exists between the Department of Tourism Management at Moi University and the Department of Geography at Makerere University. The two Departments are working together in areas of curricula development, exchange of information, staff visitations and research projects.

Currently, members of staff from the two Universities are working on a research project entitled, ‘community based wetland resource management for poverty alleviation through ecotourism development in the Lake Victoria region.’ The project is being supported through the Lake Victoria Research Initiative (VicRes) of the Inter-University Council for East Africa.

The project was conceived due to the realization that wetlands in the Lake Victoria region of Eastern Africa are increasingly being degraded through unsustainable consumptive uses (sand and clay extraction, agriculture, firewood and timber extraction, brick making etc) and increasing human settlements. Using participatory approaches including FGD, PRA, participant observation and oral interviews, the project endeavors to examine the role and promotion of ecotourism in the sustainable utilization and conservation of wetland resources for overall socio-economic development and poverty reduction among local communities.

The research project is being conducted in two wetland sites: Sango Bay and Nyando in southern Uganda and Western Kenya respectively. The two sites are endowed with a diversity of resources (birds, flora, fauna, waterfalls, fish, etc) which can be harnessed for ecotourism.


The ATLAS Board would like to express its gratitude to all those institutions and individuals that have assisted in various ways in the growth of the association. Special thanks go to Leontine Onderwater, Bob Wishitemi, Rene van der duim, Harry Wels, Pius Odunga, Marjolein E. Kloek and Jockey Nyakaana. We are also grateful to Moi University and SNV for supporting the activities of ATLAS-Africa.




Annual review of activities 2006

John Akama
Moi University, Kenya

I am pleased to announce that ATLAS Africa is now six year old and; during that short period, the association has continued to steadily expand. Currently, the association has got a membership of over 40 institutions drawn from different parts of the world. The expansion of ATLAS Africa is in line with the main goal of the association which is: to create linkages with individuals and organizations, in different parts of the world, that have interest in the development and promotion of tourism and leisure education and research in Africa.

It is important to note that ATLAS Africa in a pioneer association in the continent. Currently, there are very few associations of this nature in Africa that are involved in the promotion of tourism and leisure training and research, curricula development, staff exchange and organization of conferences, seminars, workshops and symposia. Thus, it can be said that the association is playing an important a role in the development and promotion of tourism and leisure education in Africa. The following are some of the activities that have been undertaken by ATLAS Africa, in the recent past.

The ATLAS-Africa Secretariat is based in the Department of Tourism Management at Moi University. In recent years, the Department has witnessed major increase in student enrolment with the number of undergraduate students increasing more than threefold, in the last five years, from 120 students in 2001 to the current population of over 400 students. This phenomenon growth attests to the increasing popularity of tourism training in Kenya, with tourism graduates from Moi University getting job placements in various areas of the service sector in Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Over the years, Moi University has been very helpful in supporting the various activities of ATLAS-Africa. The University has provided office space for the ATLAS Africa Secretariat and has, in the recent past, supported staff to participate in the ATLAS-Africa conferences. For instance, in this year's (2006) conference in Mombasa, Moi University sponsored more than 20 members of staff to participate in the conference.

ATLAS-Africa has a membership of over 40 institutions spread over Eastern and Southern Africa. Currently, there is a move to spread the membership to Central and Western Africa, especially in francophone countries. Since its inception in 2000, ATLAS-Africa has managed to organise 4 successful conferences that were held in different countries in Africa. The conferences have attracted participants from different parts of the world, with the majority of the participants coming from Africa. The latest conference organised by ATLAS Africa was held in Mombasa, on 16th to 18th, February 2006. The theme of that conference was, "contested landscapes in tourism: culture, conservation and consumption."

However, it should be noted that the number of participants in the Mombasa conference went down from over 100 participants in the Pretoria conference of 2004 to about 50 delegates. It was noted that a major contributory factor to the small number of attendants was the timing of the conference in the month of February when most academic staff, especially in European institutions, are engaged in teaching and other university work. Also, it was noted that the theme of the conference was rather restrictive.

However, not withstanding the small number of participants, the conference presentations were of very high quality allowing for lively exchange of ideas and information. Also, apart from involvement in conference presentations, delegates were taken in a field excursion in Haller Park that is a prime tourist attraction in Kenya. After receiving a lively presentation by staff of Haller Park, the delegates were taken on a guided in the park. Also, delegates had the opportunity to experience Kenyan art performances, indigenous cuisines and dance in the congenial environment of Whitesands. Finally, after the conference a number of delegates went on safari in Kenya's world famous inland wilderness parks such as Tsavo, Amboseli and Masai Mara.

ATLAS Africa has succeeded in creating a network among institutions of high learning in Africa that has promoted the sharing of information and capacity building in tourism and leisure studies. For instance, a number of teaching staff from East Africa universities has managed to get admission in South Africa universities to pursue PhD training and, also, there is increasing visitation of staff among sister university in Africa. Currently, staff from Makerere and Moi University is working on a joint project entitled, "community based wetland resource management for poverty alleviation through ecotourism development in the Lake Victoria region. The project is being funded by the Inter-University Council of Eastern Africa and; it entails identification of micro-scale community based ecotourism projects in the Kenyan and Ugandan side of Lake Victoria, creating awareness and capacity building in ecotourism development and wetland conservation.

ATLAS Africa is also planning to have a series of publications. Currently, Harry Wels with Bob Wishitemi and Anna Spenceley have made a selection of papers from the Mombasa, Arusha and Pretoria conference for publication in a refereed book. Also, Leontine Onderwater is co-ordinating the publication of the Mombasa 2006 conference proceedings is a series of thematic publications. These publications are expected to be out before the end of this year.





Other activities

Apart from holding of conferences, workshops, seminars and symposia, ATLAS-Africa had planned to be actively involved in conducting group based research on specific tourism and leisure issues, assisting member institutions in Africa in the development and implementation of appropriate tourism and leisure curriculum, and staff and student exchange.

Although ATLAS Africa board members have made several attempts to search for funding for a regional and collaborative tourism research project, which will involve a number of selected African countries, no success has been achieved towards this end. This research project is envisioned to form a core activity in the association and; is planned to have several facets including skill training at Masters and PhD level and capacity building among participating institutions, staff and student exchange and dissemination of new research information and innovative ideas.

It should also be stated that, over the last 5 years, most of the activities of ATLAS-Africa have been sponsored by the MHO-NUFFIC (a Dutch Government funded initiate in higher education). However, MHO-NUFFIC funding is at its last phase and is about to come to an end. In this regard, it is of paramount importance that ATLAS-Africa should endeavour to search for alternative sources of funding and possible support from individuals and member institutions

Last but not least, it is important to note that ATLAS-Africa is still a young association with much work a head which needs to be done. This is particular so in the urgent need to continue extending the association's network in different regions of the world. Individual and institutions that are involved in tourism and leisure education and research are very much welcome to join.

We would also like to take this opportunity to invite all those who are interested in attending the Pretoria Conference to register as soon as appropriate. The conference will be held in Pretoria, South Africa on 29th September to 1st October 2004. The theme of the conference is, "leadership, culture and knowledge: Gateway to sustainable tourism development in Africa". For more information concerning ATLAS activities, how to join as a member and registration for conference, please visit the ATLAS page or contact the Africa Coordinator (


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