10 best reasons to support sustainable tourism in Burundi.  The most sustainable investments and the mistakes to avoid.

by Stephan Doukhopelnikoff author of The Burundi Series.

Tourism a source of income for a country, because its money that wouldn’t have been earned if the tourists were not there.

Tourism also allows wealth to be injected into a community in a variety of ways. The great benefit of this industry is that it’s extremely labor intensive, and many of the businesses that operate within it are only small businesses and micro operators. This means that every dollar coming into the industry is felt quickly by business owners and staff, and is directly related to a boost in local spending.

For a community with the potential to become a tourist destination, there are a huge range of benefits.
It’s also great for individual travelers, because with a booming tourism industry there is lots to do, plenty of places to stay, and as a result more and more tourists are drawn in.


10 advantages of tourism

1. Employment

One of the easiest advantages to identify is the jobs tourism brings.

This ranges from directly influenced positions like tour guides, hotel staff, coach services, and restaurants. What’s great about all these businesses is that they not only pay wages to their staff, but source goods and products locally, giving a boost to local industry.

What’s great about tourism is that the supporting industries like retail and food production also benefit, although it is not as obvious to the untrained eye as this is mostly occurring behind the scenes.

2. Increased Spending in the Local Community

This comes twofold. First you have the money that is spent directly by tourists in the economy.

Not just on tourism, but there are a huge range of basic human requirements that need to be purchased, like food, clothing, hairdressing, medical services, and transportation needs that all need to be filled, along with souvenirs and amusements.

In its own way, tourism supports global trade.

In addition to what is spent by tourists, the tourism dollars that are earned, by both businesses and individuals is often re-injected into the local economy. So you’ve got more money being earned locally thanks to tourism, which is then spent in the local economy as well.

This is why tourism revenues are often referred to as having a multiplier effect, because a large percentage of every tourist dollar earned is reintroduced back into the economy, again and again. This is the multiplier effect. Ultimately, the more tourist dollars coming in, the larger the economic benefit for everyone.

DiversificationIn addition to bringing prosperity to an economy, it also allows an economy to develop a new form of income. This acts as an insurance policy in case of hard times, because the additional dollars coming in can help support traditional industries in case they come under financial pressure. This is especially important for communities that rely on a single industry, or where there is a concentration of industry that is environmentally damaging such as mining or manufacturing. It’s also important for rural communities, where there is significant risk based on the farming conditions and global commodity prices.

Tourism allows a community to diversify their sources of income, and rely less on a single industry.

3. Infrastructure

The additional revenue that comes into a community also benefits the local council or governments. It means more tax dollars, which allows public projects to be launched or developed. This means the infrastructure improves, with new roads being built, parks developed and public spaces improved. The better facilities bring in more visitors, but are a fantastic benefit to local residents, especially when there is enough revenue to build new airports, schools and hospitals, which all support the economic development even further.

Without a good infrastructure, the flow of goods and services is impossible, and tourism revenues allow this to be supported.

Social advantages. In addition to the revenue, there are also fantastic cultural advantages to tourism. It can be a source of pride for local communities, and allows them to look at their history, and cultural heritage and develop their own community identity. This helps the local residents to maintain their traditions and culture, while also showcasing it for all the visitors. This advantage of tourism is what has saved many local heritage sites from destruction, in addition to giving tourists a wonderful insight into the local ways of life. Tourism can help to preserve the history of a region that may be at risk of being lost.

4. Environmental Advantages

Many tourism operators are differentiating themselves from their counterparts by offering tours and packages with an environmental twist, and supporting the conservation of the local area. This helps both the environment in dealing with the influx of tourists, but also helps to build a strong reputation for the tourism operator.

5. Opportunities

Bringing tourists into a community gives it new life, and creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to establish new services and products, or facilities that would not be sustainable based on the local population of residents alone. Tourists are all potential customers, and with the right approach can be targeted in a business strategy that allows for fantastic success.

There’s no doubt tourism is fantastic for a local community. The key to remember when you’re travelling yourself is to be a sustainable tourist, always act to support the cultural diversity of the place you are visiting, and make sure you take part in activities that add value to the local community. Never do anything that deteriorates the environment, and support the local and community owned establishments that form the heart of the local tourism industry. This course is great to teach you the tricks of the best travelers, and you’ll be a jet-setter supporting local economies all over the world in no time!

6. The mindset of the local population

What is even more important is that local people get confronted with the minds of the tourists which opens up the mind and enriches the mind with new ideas.

Creative ideas create new opportunities.

7. Cultural Exchange

Tourism can facilitate cultural exchange between visitors and locals, promoting mutual understanding and respect. Visitors can learn about the local culture, customs, and traditions, while locals can learn about the visitors’ cultures. This can help to break down stereotypes and promote tolerance and diversity.

8. Improved Quality of Life

Tourism can bring about improvements in the quality of life for local residents. The influx of tourist dollars can help to support the development of social services such as education, healthcare, and public transportation, which benefit both tourists and locals. Additionally, tourism can create job opportunities that may not have existed otherwise, offering people a chance to earn a living and improve their standard of living.

9. Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage

Tourism can also help to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of a country. By promoting conservation efforts and supporting the development of sustainable tourism practices, visitors can help to protect the environment and preserve cultural landmarks for future generations.

10. Increased Awareness and Understanding of Global Issues

Tourism can help to increase awareness and understanding of global issues such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. Visitors can learn about the challenges that local communities face and gain a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of the world. This can promote a sense of responsibility and inspire visitors to take action to address these issues in their own communities.

Overall, tourism can bring about many advantages for a developing country, including economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development, cultural exchange, and environmental preservation. However, it is important to promote sustainable tourism practices that minimise negative impacts on the environment and local communities.


10 pillars for sustainable tourism

There are several alternative ways to promote sustainable tourism in small countries that can help to minimise the negative impacts of mass tourism on the environment and local communities. Here are some ideas:

1. Promote low-impact tourism.

Encourage tourists to engage in activities that have a lower impact on the environment, such as hiking, cycling, and wildlife watching, rather than activities that require motorized vehicles or large amounts of energy.

2. Develop eco-tourism.

Promote ecotourism initiatives that focus on educating tourists about the environment and conservation efforts, while also supporting local communities.

3. Support local businesses.

Encourage tourists to support local businesses, such as locally-owned hotels, restaurants, and shops, to help boost the local economy and preserve local culture.

4. Implement sustainable tourism practices.

Encourage tourism operators to implement sustainable tourism practices, such as reducing waste and energy usage, using renewable energy sources, and supporting local conservation efforts.

5. Encourage responsible behaviour.

Educate tourists about responsible tourism practices, such as respecting local customs and traditions, minimising waste and pollution, and supporting local conservation efforts.

6. Develop community-based tourism.

Encourage the development of community-based tourism initiatives that involve local residents in the tourism industry and help to support sustainable livelihoods.

7. Promote off-season tourism.

Encourage tourists to visit during the off-season, which can help to reduce overcrowding and minimise the impact on the environment and local communities.

8. Develop sustainable transportation.

Encourage the development of sustainable transportation options, such as biking and public transportation, to reduce the environmental impact of tourism and provide access to remote areas.

Overall, promoting sustainable tourism is about finding a balance between economic growth, environmental protection, and social responsibility, while also preserving the unique culture and natural resources of a small country.

9. Wellness tourism

Wellness tourism can support sustainable tourism in several ways. Firstly, wellness tourism often promotes holistic health and well-being, which can have positive impacts on the environment and local communities. For example, wellness retreats may encourage participants to adopt sustainable practices such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and supporting local businesses.

Additionally, wellness tourism can contribute to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage. Many wellness retreats are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty or historical significance, and by promoting these destinations, they can help to raise awareness of their importance and encourage their preservation.

Furthermore, wellness tourism can support sustainable economic development by creating job opportunities in the wellness industry.

This can help to diversify the local economy, reduce poverty, and promote social and economic well-being.

Finally, wellness tourism can help to promote sustainable tourism practices by encouraging responsible behavior among tourists, such as respecting local cultures and traditions, minimizing waste, and conserving natural resources.

Overall, wellness tourism has the potential to support sustainable tourism by promoting holistic health and well-being, preserving natural and cultural heritage, creating economic opportunities, and promoting responsible tourism practices.

10. Boutique and theme hotels

Boutique, theme hotels, and BNBs can support sustainable tourism in several ways:

1. Energy Efficiency: These accommodations can implement energy-efficient practices such as using renewable energy sources, installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and encouraging guests to conserve energy.

2. Waste Reduction: These accommodations can reduce waste by implementing recycling programs, using biodegradable or compostable products, and reducing single-use plastics.

3. Supporting Local Communities: Boutique hotels, theme hotels, and BNBs can support local communities by sourcing products and services locally, hiring local staff, and promoting local culture and traditions.

4. Responsible Tourism Practices: They can encourage responsible tourism practices such as respecting local cultures and traditions, minimizing waste, and conserving natural resources.

5. Preserving Heritage: These accommodations can preserve heritage by promoting local cultural and historical sites, and educating guests on the importance of preserving these sites.

6. Providing Authentic Experiences: Boutique hotels, theme hotels, and BNBs can provide guests with authentic experiences by offering them the opportunity to experience local culture and traditions, such as local cuisine, music, and art.

7. Supporting Conservation Efforts: These accommodations can support conservation efforts by partnering with local organizations and supporting conservation programs, such as wildlife conservation and reforestation initiatives.

In summary, boutique hotels, theme hotels, and BNBs can support sustainable tourism by implementing energy-efficient practices, reducing waste, supporting local communities, promoting responsible tourism practices, preserving heritage, providing authentic experiences, and supporting conservation efforts. By doing so, they can help to create a more sustainable and responsible tourism industry.

Young boy at Lake Tanganyika.
Photo by SD published in Burundi Investment Guide 2019

Greatest investments: Conference and research centres.

Research centers and conference centers in a developing country can be considered a form of knowledge tourism that contributes to the development of the country’s intellectual and academic capital. By hosting conferences and research activities, these centers can attract scholars, scientists, and researchers from around the world, who bring their expertise and knowledge to the local community.

Furthermore, the presence of the second biggest lake in the world can attract visitors who are interested in exploring the natural beauty and unique ecosystem of the region. This can provide opportunities for eco-tourism initiatives that are focused on promoting conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

However, it is important to ensure that these activities are carried out in a sustainable manner that respects the environment and local communities. This can involve implementing sustainable tourism practices, promoting community-based tourism initiatives, and supporting local businesses and conservation efforts.

Overall, the development of research centers and conference centers, along with the promotion of sustainable tourism initiatives, can help to support the intellectual and economic growth of a developing country, while also preserving its natural and cultural heritage.


Greatest mistake to avoid: Mass tourism

1. Mass tourism can lead to overcrowding and environmental damage, which can harm the natural beauty of the country.

2. It can put a strain on the infrastructure of small towns and villages, leading to increased pollution and waste.

3. A sudden influx of tourists can cause prices for goods and services to increase, making it difficult for locals to afford basic necessities.

4. The influx of tourists can also lead to gentrification, pushing out locals and changing the character of the community.

5. Mass tourism can lead to an increase in crime and safety concerns for both tourists and local residents.

6. It can contribute to the exploitation of natural resources, such as water and wildlife, harming the delicate ecosystem of the country.

7. Mass tourism can lead to a loss of cultural identity and cultural heritage as tourists influence the local culture and traditions.

8. It can create an unsustainable dependency on tourism, making the country vulnerable to economic downturns and fluctuations in the tourism industry.

9. It can harm local businesses that are not geared towards tourism, leading to a loss of diversity in the economy.

10. A focus on mass tourism can lead to a neglect of other important areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure.


The Burundi series

The ‘Burundi Series’ is an initiative led by Stephan Doukhopelnikoff that involves a series of articles in French or English analyzing opportunities for Burundi.


The goal of the series is to identify opportunities for improvement and share them as guidance to improve the quality of life for all in a non-exclusive way.

The initiative is open to contributions from interested individuals who can contact the team by email at doutti.burundi@gmail.com.

Stephan Doukhopelnikoff is a lawyer, mediator,  professional leadership coach and international consultant who has worked with various organisations and individuals around the world. He focuses on improving performance and well-being and has an open mind and heart. For more information on Stephan and his qualifications: link

About the Author


International entrepreneurship consultant,
lawyer, mediator,
leadership, entrepreneurship, performance and mindfulness COACH,
digital, innovation, internet and creativity.
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