FootstepsAfrica is an initiative for the promotion, development and maintenance of historical trails that guide tourists along routes and places of cultural-historical significance, monuments and memorials in Africa.
The initiative consists of a network of academics, members of governmental administrative organisations and NGO’s, entrepreneurs in tourism and other related fields, writers and explorers from Africa and the rest of the world.
The conservation and restoration of cultural heritage are already widespread practices. See for example the impressive Zamani Project of the University of Cape Town. See: http://www.zamaniproject.org
The heritage approach of FootstepsAfrica is nevertheless innovative.
The aim is to trace and support routes that link heritage sites with infrastructure, organisation, available stories and digital information. For tourists mobility, routes and accommodations are essential. When tourists feel attracted to these heritage trails they will spend money and support the local and regional economies. Tourism in Africa so far is highly dominated by nature and wildlife tourism or beach tourism. Heritage tourism is somewhat underdeveloped in many parts of the African continent. Attractive heritage trails, interesting stories and sites, as well as interaction with the local populations along the routes, offer an exciting new segment in tourism marketing.
The creation of heritage trails also stimulates further academic research into the past and is related to wider cultural and social environments, even cross borders. It fuels academic and public education, and helps to strengthen historical awareness. The underpinning of historical awareness revitalizes the link of new generations to their collective past. Last but not least, the initiative intends to involve local communities actively in story telling, providing hospitality, accommodations and selling local products.
The road from Tabora to Ujiji Livingstone’s Tembe, Tabora
Photos: Dennis Roijakkers