Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros4-5Culture and tourism? Limits and p...

Résumé

The article presents the case of Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique, two small African islands declared World Heritage Sites for their past history connected to the slave trade and their colonial architecture. They are now cultural tourism destinations but, despite being endowed with a relevant historical and cultural heritage, and their relevance for the African and global history, they haven’t find yet a successful way of promoting their cultural resources as a means to reduce poverty, leaving the poor living conditions of the resident society threaten the very survival of the heritage resources. The article presents the results of two fieldwork missions on the islands conducted by the Author, aimed at showing the weaknesses and strengths of the actual tourist management.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

1Tourism and culture represent today a highly potential pair to improve local development, particularly in less developed countries, in conjunction with traditional activities. Is it true, though, that such pair always implies positive local effects both on an economic and socio-cultural level ? The impacts of tourism may often be as negative as a general deterioration of the living conditions – as a consequence of unfair distribution of costs and benefits – but also as the total loss of traditional symbolic heritage.

2This paper aims at analysing the different interactions between small islands, cultural tourism and World Heritage Sites through a double fold analysis : first of all the connection between memory and tourism will be analysed, focusing in particular on the memory of the slave trade, and secondly the role of tourism in World Heritage Sites small islands will be discussed, through the comparison of two case studies : Gorée, in Senegal, and Ilha de Moçambique, in Mozambique.

3Unlike other islands in the same geographical area offering the classical 3s tourism – sea, sun and sand – Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique propose heritage tourism based on their colonial past, the slave trade and their population’s tangible and intangible culture, strongly related to the western African sub region on one side and to Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean on the other.

4Both islands have been recognised as World Heritage Sites on account of their relevance for the colonial history and architecture and for being symbols of the slave trade : an appealing reason for cultural and memory tourists to visit them. However, while endowed with a relevant historical and cultural heritage, and notwithstanding their relevance for the African and global history, Gorée and Ilha, haven’t find yet a successful way of promoting their cultural resources as a means to reduce poverty, leaving the poor living conditions of the resident society threaten the very survival of the heritage resources.

Methodology

5The study here presented started several years ago, with a focus on community development through tourism in Gorée, and later it has developed with the exploration of other issues connected to the same place, such as cultural and memory tourism. Later, moving to the other side of Africa and to a different Ocean, the study included another small island that shares a very similar history with Gorée, a similar cultural heritage and similar tourist potentials : Ilha de Moçambique, in Mozambique.

6The study of island tourism needs take into consideration several aspects, spanning from morphology and environment, to sociology and anthropology, to economics and politics, so the methodology to realize such study had to focus first of all on the identification and collection of the already existing literature on these issues, in order to produce a complete territorial analysis, and secondly it had to focus on the collection of original quantitative and qualitative data through fieldwork.

7In respect to this second phase, two fieldwork missions were carried out in Gorée (October 2003 and September/December 2004) and one in Ilha del Moçambique (April 2008), aiming at getting in touch with the studied territories, and their population, trough questionnaires, interviews and meetings with key informants. Moreover, basic conversation with local people was used as a source of information, using the ethnographic methodology of participant observation, that allowed the collection of a great amount of information, being the use of questionnaires not always effective, due to the more formal questions they contained, to which some among the informants were reluctant to answer, operating an informal activity.

Slave trade heritage and memory tourism

8Cultural tourism is a growing sector of global tourism, aiming at the discovery of monuments and sites, with educational and cultural purposes, but also at the encounter with other cultures or with the memory of past events.

9In respect to memory, it is widely recognized that it is strongly connected to both individual and collective identity, and that its search is one of the fundamental pursue of today societies (Le Goff, 1982). Collective memory, in particular, is structured around places and events of the past : the stage where human history is represented, as Turri (1998) puts it. These places become symbols through which a population or a group may identify, and they include tangible and intangible heritage such as : flags, hymns, parades, currencies, folklore museums, war memorials, but also less dramatic features such as national sports, landscapes, heroes, fairy tales (Smith, 1991). All these symbols may fuel the pride of belonging to a specific group or nationality ; however, while conveying the group or national identity, they are open to individual interpretations, depending on one’s personal or family history (i.e : the history of minority groups) (Meethan, 2001).

10The preservation of the memory of past events is vital to the self-identification of groups (i.e. the Black diasporic community), and the commemoration of historical events is central both for their mnemonic community and for the collective memory (Dunkley, Morgan,e Westwood, 2010). In this sense the visit to places of the collective memory plays an educational role, keeping alive the identity, and connecting it to past events (i.e. visit to battlefield, slave museums, etc). This kind of tourism may be perceived as a “national pilgrimage” and marketed using symbolic and stereotyped images of a group/nation and nostalgia. In this respect, Turri (1998) reminds how nostalgia is that vital feeling that each human being feels for the places of his/her infancy, where his/her personality was shaped.
Several memory places are connected to dramatic events such as battlefields, concentrations camps, places of the slave trade and detention, and the kind of tourism they attract is often related to as thanatourism or dark tourism (Dann, Seaton, 2001).

11Focussing now on the slave trade, having involved millions of individuals, it has changed the demographic and cultural order of the world, and produced socio-political and economical effects on every continent. In particular, it has contributed to the creation of the identity of the Afro-Americans but also to that of the modern American States (Curto, Lovejoy, 2004). It has also contributed to the creation of a transnational cultural space that Gilroy (2003) calls the Black Atlantic, inside which the places connected to the slave trade keep the memory of this episode of the world history. These places, like Gorée in Senegal or Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, attract both cultural tourists and “root” tourists, in search for their lost African origins and their self-identification (Coles, Timothy, 2004). Through tourism the black diasporic community retrace the route of their original voyage, in search for their origin, a mythical origin in fact, considering that the Africa of the slave trade era does no longer exists (Hall, 1990) : it is not the destination of a real return, rather it is a political, cultural and spiritual metaphor.

12To protect the places connected to the slave trade, Unesco has created since 1994 an inter-continental tourist itinerary called “Slave Route”, aimed at promoting the WHS connected to the slave trade, their architectural and cultural heritage and helping develop the living conditions of the resident population. Its main objective is to obtain from a tragic collective memory a possibility to improve nowadays people’s living conditions. To support this route, Unesco has chosen to declare heritage sites several places connected to the slave trade : some forts in Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique, Benin, Reunion, Tanzania) but also arrival places on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (Haiti, Brazil, Dominican Republic), symbols of the slave trade and of the routes it took. Their tourist promotion helps obtaining both direct and indirect socio-economic revenues but also preserving the cultural heritage and re-discovering the identity of the people involved in the slave trade (). Moreover, connecting all these places through a cultural itinerary help them being studied with an integrated approach : in fact, memory is in itself a very fragile heritage, exposed to a double risk : it may be lost if not promoted and it may be mystified, compromised or commodified if promoted in a wrong way, so the memory of the slave trade has to be preserved through an increasing commitment, that has to be built through a growing knowledge.

Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique: a short history

13Despite being very small, Gorée has always played a significant role in African history : due to its position, its possession granted the control of the commercial routes among Europe, Africa and the Americas, offering in addition a protected bay, as its name shows : Gorée, in fact, derives from the Dutch Goede Reed, the good bay (Renaudeau, 1985). It is for this reason that, since its discovery in 1444 , Portuguese and Dutch armies at first and French and English armies later fought hardly to conquer it.

Document 1: Dakar and Gorée,

Document 1: Dakar and Gorée,

Elisa Magnani

14By the XVI century the island had become an important port of call and it was inhabited by an heterogeneous society, composed by Europeans, Africans and the descendants of the unions between European men and African women, often slaves. To the sons and daughters of these unions went the properties and businesses of their fathers after their death or once they had moved back to Europe, so on the island there was a group of rich mixed-descendant people who traded in slaves and other goods. Among them particularly renowned are the so-called signare, from the Portuguese word senhora, lady (Unesco, 1985, Reneaudeau, 1985).

15After long centuries of wars, finally, at the end of the XVIII century, France obtained the full possession of the island and made it the centre of its empire in West Africa, while using it to control the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and America, based mainly on the traffic of human beings. Thanks to this trade, its population prospered and started the construction of large, sumptuous stone houses, the very houses that today represent the main architectonical attraction of the island. It is only with the abolition of the Code Noir in 1848 that the island lost its sad aspect of a storehouse for human beings, becoming the preferred residence of the administrative officials of the AOF (Afrique Occidentale Fançaise) and of a new group of traders who started the exploitation of legal resources such as peanuts (Unesco, 1985), of which Senegal is one of the main producer still today.

16However, in 1857, to sustain the growing administrative apparatus of the AOF, a new capital was built, in the mainland right in front of the island (Dakar) and Gorée, lost its central role in the colonial administration, started being neglected and the demographic and architectonic decay that continues to the present day began (Unesco, 1985).

17The islands counts 1102 inhabitants (), the majority of whom is very young : the low economic development imposes to many adults and young adults to migrate to France, to other European countries or to the United States. Even if several ethnic groups inhabit the island, the majority of the them is Muslim, but the Christian minority is well integrated. Due to the high demographic density (with its 600 m of length and 300 m of width, the total surface is the island is approximately 0.18 Km², that makes a density of 6122 inhabitants/Km²), the living conditions of many among the inhabitants are very poor, with very low hygiene conditions, sometimes with no water or light ; moreover, most among them squat the historical state-owned buildings. The state of preservation of the built heritage is very poor but very few people possess the means to restore their houses.

Document 2a and 2b: Gorée, 2004. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings.

Document 2a and 2b: Gorée, 2004. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings.

Pictures by Elisa Magnani

18Coming to Ilha de Moçambique, it is a small island in the Mossuril Bay, in the north of Mozambique. Being at the centre of the commercial routes both with the African mainland and with the Indian Ocean, its history is marked by a great mixture of races and peoples, that has deserved it the name encruzilhada das culturas, crossroad of cultures.

Document 3: The position of Ilha de Moçambique in the country

Document 3: The position of Ilha de Moçambique in the country

Elisa Magnani

19Vasco da Gama reached the island in the year 1498, conquering it from the Arabs, who had used it as a port since the 10th century (Zamponi, 1999). Like Gorée, for centuries Ilha was contended by the European powers, but in this case Portugal succeeded in maintaining its control and so Ilha became the centre of the Portuguese commercial and political expansion in the Indian Ocean, and very quickly its importance grew due the trade of gold, ivory, slaves.

20However, short after the end of the slave trade, the Suez Channel was opened (1869) and the Mozambican route to India was deserted, while the capital of the colony was transferred from Ilha to Lourenço Marques (Maputo) : as in Gorée, the island economy suffered a terrible blow and the situation got even worse half a century later, when the near town of Nacala opened a new, larger port. Considering that there has never been an agricultural sector on the island, as a consequence of the loss of its harbour employments, the local population found itself in a very hard situation.

Document 4a and 4b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings and the coastal erosion.

Document 4a and 4b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings and the coastal erosion.

Pictures by Elisa Magnani

21Today the island is struggling to become a tourist destination but despite its high cultural potentials, the sector presents several drawbacks, such as a consistent lack of infrastructures and planning.

22The 1997 population census counted 14 thousands inhabitants () living in a 1.5 Km² territory (nearly 9.300 inhabitants/Km²) : this overpopulation is the result of the events occurred during the civil war, when the island offered refuge to people from the more dangerous mainland ; when the war ended, they did not move back to their fields, having become accustomed to a more comfortable urban life.

23The majority of today population is Muslim, but the relationship between the different religions is based on tolerance and respect : a unifying feature is that all identify with the Macua ethnic group, sharing a strong ethnic identity, based on a common cultural background, related with Zanzibar, the Swahili area and the Indian Ocean (Zamponi, 1999).

Tourism and culture on Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique

24As a consequence of their main feature, isolation, that helps them keep their natural environment and human population closer to a lost past of naturalness and more authentic and real (King, 1993 ; Pitt, 1980), islands are seen by many tourists as the ultimate tourist experience (Baum, 1997). In general, island are associated with the stereotype of the 3s tourism – sea, sun, sand, to which shopping and sex may sometimes be added – but not necessarily, as we will see with the two case studies here presented, where tourism is based on the commercial use of several local resources, both sea-related and cultural, such as dances, hospitality, gastronomy, etc.

25However, even if tourism is capable of diversifying the local economies, of bringing infrastructures to people in remote areas (and with them the access to social services such as hospitals, schools, markets, etc.) and of creating job opportunities, with its infrastructures and cultural contamination it may often lead to a change or to the destruction of the local natural and cultural environment. Moreover, through tourism, the local communities may lose control on their territory, the local resources and on how to use them, and on the number of tourist they are willing to welcome (McElroy, de Albuquerque, 2002 ; Lozato-Giotard, 2006). Without such control the population loses the faculty of choosing how to use its territory (Turco, 1988) and in the end it may also lose its identity, considering that nowadays the preservation of communities is strictly connected to the preservation of their spaces (Lozato-Giotard, 2006) and that the commodification of traditions may cause irreversible damage to the structure and social cohesion of small islands, destroying the main tourist attraction : the genuine local culture.

Gorée

26In the area of the capital, Gorée is a very popular destination for the tourists staying in the Petite Côte, the most developed tourist area around Dakar, from where the majority of the tourists visiting the island arrives.

27Already in the 50s and 60s Gorée was a tourist destination for the rich French bourgeoisie, but it is only in the 80s, after the inclusion in the World Heritage List, that the most prosperous period for the island tourist sector started, together with an architectonical rehabilitation of some of the historical buildings, due to a worldwide fundraising campaign, promoted by Unesco and the Senegalese government. The island became renowned worldwide as the symbol of the slave trade, with its Maison des Escalves and the Door of no return, and it was included in several mass tourism packages managed by European tour operators.

Document 5: Gorée, 2004. The Maison des Esclaves, with the Door of no Return at the back.

Document 5: Gorée, 2004. The Maison des Esclaves, with the Door of no Return at the back.

Picture by Elisa Magnani

28From the 90s it also became a destination for independent tourists, mainly backpackers, leading to the opening of locally owned accommodation, the hébergement chez l’habitant. This happy moment for the island’s tourist sector has never known a successful development though, because the local administration has never been able to implement on the island territory an integrated tourist system and has simply left the local population start private initiatives, without coordination and management and without a proper marketing strategy. So Gorée, that at the end of the 70s had become the world symbol of the slave trade, was abandoned to the initiatives of its unskilled population, that obviously proved to be unable to face the drawbacks of tourist development, such has the cultural contamination, the loss of the traditional activities, the exceeding growth of tourist activities, the depletion of the natural environment. Only lately the local administration has understood how this bad management had impacted negatively on the possibilities of development that the inscription in the World Heritage Site had brought and, supported by the Ministry of Tourism, is trying to mend the damage, but perhaps too late, for in the meantime the 2009 global crisis has started, impacting very strongly even in this remote place of Earth, and the number of visitors has decreased substantially, while the money required to improve the local tourist system, rehabilitate the buildings and start integrated activities, involving all the local stakeholders, are hardly to be found.

29Gorée was inscribed in the World Heritage Sites List in 1979, after the IV criterion, that protects those places representing an outstanding example of a building technique or architecture of a significant moment in history : Gorée is the living representation of the slave trade era, when the slaves built its stone houses.

30After its inscription, it has attracted many tourists, but since then the tourist promotion of Gorée has focussed nearly exclusively on the Maison des Esclaves, leaving unused the other cultural and natural resources of which it is endowed, such as the other museums, the basaltic cliff and the beauties of the sea, and the charming atmosphere of the narrow streets of the island, full of flowers. This marketing choice leaves unexplored several economic possibilities for its population who, being quite poor, would benefit greatly from an improved promotion and a wider use of its resource.

Document 6: Gorée, 2003. The charming narrow streets of Gorée.

Document 6: Gorée, 2003. The charming narrow streets of Gorée.

Picture by Elisa Magnani

31The island is visited yearly by some hundred thousand tourists, but such a large number of tourists does not mean that the island, and its population, prosper.

32We may identify two main reasons to visit Gorée : firstly, to visit a significant cultural destination and secondly to make a sort of pilgrimage to the world famous Maison des Esclaves. Among the pilgrims particularly significant is the visit made by Afro-American tourists who search here the place of their lost African origin, as discussed above. However, there are also several tourists who visit Gorée simply because they are carried there as part of the all inclusive holiday they have bought. Most of the tourist who visit Gorée spend only a few hours on the islands, leaving very little revenue to the local population, creating a very precarious tourist milieu, while the local tourist actors cannot count on this activity to fully sustain their living. Moreover, this prevents the tourist from experiencing a complete cultural journey based not only on the appreciation of the island’s monuments but also of the living culture of its people ; on the other side, the local population, being unable to gain a secure income from the presence of tourists, can only exploit them as much as possible. This aspect is seriously negative if we consider that cultural tourism should aim at favouring intercultural dialogue.

33Greater revenues are granted by independent tourists, people who visit the island outside an all-inclusive journey and, staying there for some days instead of a few hours, leave larger incomes to the local population, who offer accommodation, food and guiding.

Document 7: Official map of Gorée, obtained by the mairie

Document 7: Official map of Gorée, obtained by the mairie

modified by Elisa Magnani

34The general impression that tourists get from Gorée is rather negative : some perceive only the sad aspect of the memory of the slave trade, others are very much annoyed by the local population, in particular by informal guides, peddlers and beggars, but others are positively impressed by the beauty of its houses and blooming gardens, by the beach and the gastronomy.

35The island is easily accessible, being connected to Dakar several times a day by a ferry, and this is very helpful, because it allows many tourists visit it each day, but on the other hand this may be regarded negatively, because it may prevent the tourist spend longer periods on the island.

36In respect to tourist infrastructures, on the island there are a couple of hotels and a dozen hébergement chez l’habitant, most of which are run illegally. Moreover, most of these accommodation are totally unknown to the tourists, most of whom don’t even know that it is possible to stay on the island for the night : they live Gorée as an open air museum and completely miss the living culture of today’s residents.

37Also, the island offers about a dozen restaurants, whose main weakness is that they are all lined up in the square in front of the port, and that they all sell the same kind of food, with very little originality ; and about one hundred kiosks selling souvenirs, indeed too much for such a small place, especially if considering that the artisans are very few : the majority of the people selling souvenirs deal with imported goods and, being so numerous, the competition among them is very strong, allowing very few to make a living out of this activity.

Document 8: Gorée, 2004. The Marché Atrisanal.

Document 8: Gorée, 2004. The Marché Atrisanal.

Picture by Elisa Magnani

38All these small entrepreneurs have created in the past years specific sector-based associations, to which they have endowed the duty of representing the category’s need inside the local administration boards. The associations are also places of social cohesion and, as an example, among their members several micro-credit projects have been realized, using the form of tontine, the traditional western African system of social financing based on a shared responsibility of the debt.

39The presence of informal activities is one of the main weaknesses of the island tourist milieu, and in particular guides : being a great number, they tend to create confusion and sometimes even a feeling of insecurity among the tourists. Their presence has a double negative impact on the island economy : in addition to not contributing to the tourist levies and extorting to both the accommodation and the restaurants a commission for each tourist that they bring to the structure (creating a de facto monopoly through which they control the island tourist sector), these people offer a non-professional image of the island and this, being Gorée a world cultural symbol connected to the self identification of a whole group of people, is hardly sustainable. The municipality has realized a plan to limit their presence and apparently things are getting better.

40A full analysis of the local stakeholders involved in tourism cannot be limited to restaurant, accommodation and guides and their associations, because the tourist milieu of the island is rather rich of other actors, such as the local municipality, the mairie, that is supporting the development of the sector in accordance to the guidelines coming from the Ministry of tourism, connected to the eradication of informality and the creation of an improved image and service.

41The local administration is very much interested in improving tourism and is trying to deal with the most critical aspect of the island’s tourist sector such as the informal guides, the peddlers and the poor state of several accommodations, but the problems to solve are many and severe and the situation prosper unresolved. On its side, the Ministry of tourism produces and spreads national guidelines, but apparently is not very much interested in the island, preferring to focus on improving the tourist promotion and resources of other areas of the country and on other more lucrative activities, such as business tourism.

42Among the other stakeholders, the BAHM, the Bureau de l’Architecture et des Monuments Historiques, plays a role of control on the maintenance of the historical buildings and works together with the mairie and the Ministry of tourism to promote the image of the island worldwide.

43Finally, the local Tourist Syndicate promotes several tourist activities on the island such as festivals and events, but due to a severe lack of funds its activities are extremely reduced.

44To conclude this analysis, tourism in Gorée is strongly seasonal : being France its major origin market, tourists tend to concentrate during the European school vacations, in summer and around November/December. All other months are characterized by a very low flow of tourists, and this makes of tourism only a complementary activity to some other economic businesses. Tourism does not allow a full subsistence to the local population.

45Moreover, this very strong seasonality has implications for the environment, being the beach and the natural resources consumed at very high rates during the peak season, with impacts on the access to such resources for the local population. In fact, the local population is very little involved in the decision-process connected to the use of the local resources and tourism is the realm of a laissez-faire politics, with possible severe drawbacks on the territorial control and on the preservation of the local culture. As an example, many buildings have already been sold to Europeans, either privates or entrepreneurs, with implication on the cost of properties and on the general cost of life : the local population is not able to sustain an increasing cost of living and may thus, in the future, decide to leave the island in favour of less expensive places, leaving Gorée to tourists and to foreign entrepreneurs who will transform it in a museum or in a residence for rich people from the North, a gentrified place for the rich European bourgeoisie, but with no more living culture.

46The local entrepreneurs working on tourism, recognise that tourism is problematic due to a bad management that favours the interest of few instead of the community, but the majority among among them believed that nonetheless it is a good source of income, and only a very small minority understands that it can only grant subsistence and not wellbeing, if managed in this way. It is clear that tourism is not able to impact positively the reduction of poverty, nor can it contribute to protect the natural environment and it is, moreover, impacting quite badly on the preservation of the traditional activities and on the society, having introduced alien social practices, such as prostitution, and the abandonment of the traditional teranga, the sacred hospitality due to guests : tourists are not treated as guests but only as buyers, to whom sell anything.

Ilha de Moçambique

47While sharing with Gorée a similar colonial history, Ilha de Moçambique has had a completly different socio-political evolution after decolonization, which has led to some differences in the present day situation, and has a geographical position opposed to that of Gorée : while this latter is very close to the mainland and just in front of Dakar, to which it is well connected, Ilha is very far from Maputo and despite a bridge that connects it to the mainland, is very remote and hardly accessible by the tourist flow, that is consistently less numerous than in Gorée.

48However, the three resources that constitute Gorée’s attraction are the same that Ilha may count on : the Atlantic trade, the rich mixed-descendant society of the past (and of the present day too) and the colonial architecture, plus a fourth resources, that is more magnificent then in Gorée, the sea and islands in the Mossuril Bay, that offer opportunities for coastal tourism. The lack of tourist renown of Ilha is highly imputable to a bad territorial marketing that has not been able, up to now, to exploit and promote internationally all the richness that the island offers. Yet, tourism on the island was already developed during in the 1940s (Lobato, 1945), when a hotel and a swimming pool granted the amusement of the tourist, mostly composed by white Mozambicans.

49In analysing it tourist milieu, one has to start by Ilha’s urban structure, that is clearly parted in two : the northern side – the so called bairro museu, protected by Unesco – is built completely with Portuguese-style colonial stone and lime houses (pedra e cal houses), inhabited by Europeans or richer people, while the southern side is completely covered by macuti houses (huts with palm leaves roofs, named after the local palm) historically inhabited by black and poorer people.

Document 9a and 9b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Macuti town.

Document 9a and 9b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Macuti town.

Pictures by Elisa Magnani

50Morover, Macuti town is under the sea level because the Portuguese excavated its rocky floor to get stones for the construction of the houses and the fortress in the northern side (Forjaz, 1999 ; Houdayer, 1999) and for this reason it has become impossible to build a sewage system and still today most of its inhabitants have no toilets at home : even if there are some public toilets, the population uses the beaches for their physiological needs. Inevitably, this has a negative impact on the tourist sector, not to speak of hygiene and morality.

51For this set of reasons, a tourist’s first impression of Ilha is rather a bad one : difficult access, lack of urban cleaning and organisation, lack of tourist information and management. To get to Ilha from Maputo requires an expensive 2-hour domestic flight (due to the lack of competition, the national airline company has raised the prices) to the city of Nampula, and then a 200 Km-long journey on the local transport bus (overcrowded by humans, animals and vegetables) that can last from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the number of stops during the trip to collect more and more people. At the end of the long road, the tourists will simply be left on the southernmost part of the island where they will not find a tourist office to welcome and help them ; rather, they will have to make their own way to their booked accommodation or find one. Due to the general lack of knowledge of English among the local population, this can be very difficult. Even if it may be charming for those willing to experience an “African adventure”, it leaves a negative impression on most, because Ilha does not want to be considered an “adventure” experience, rather, it seeks to be perceived as a cultural place. The problem is that it is not easily accessible to the potential target of tourists. Even if this might be seen as a strength for the conservation of its cultural heritage because it is not exposed to continuous flows of mass tourists, it clearly appears that the island is missing an opportunity for development, failing in its self-promotion.

Document 10: Map of Ilha. Source : modified

Document 10: Map of Ilha. Source : modified

Elisa Magnani

52Overall, the total amount of tourists is around a few thousand per year but unfortunately no official data is available, for the local administration doesn’t have a proper system to count them. Most of them stay on the island a couple of nights in average, due to a lack of diversification of the activities that they are offered once there. The flows concentrate in the summer time, like in Gorée, in correspondence to the summer vacations of the Europeans, mainly Portuguese. A significant amount of these tourists are also South Africans, due to the proximity of the two countries, and very few Afro-Americans are counted, because the island is not renowned worldwide in connection to the memory of the slave trade.

53On the island there are several accommodation structures, but only few of them are marketed on the Internet or on tourist guides, the others have to be discovered once there. Overall there are 17 hotels and B&B, 6 restaurants and bars and several more kiosks selling food and drinks ; finally there is one campground and 3 more accommodations on the mainland, for a total of nearly 150 beds.

54Moreover a tourist may find a couple of shops selling souvenirs, mainly locally produced, a market where local people sell fabrics and other goods, and several peddlers, selling missangas, the traditional necklaces made with colonial beads. These beads have an interesting history : during the slave trade era, glass beads were bought by the merchants in Venice and used in Africa as coins ; however, being the sailing of the Mozambican Channel quite hard, several ships foundered, spreading their cargo of beads on the ocean floor, from where the sea would bring them to the coast of the Mossuril Bay. There, they were picked up by the locals, to be used as coins and later to be threaded in precious necklaces, a high value souvenir. Nowadays the sea has apparently finished to give back all these beads and the local people in Ilha threads beads made in China, but still pretend that they are real Venetian one.

55The commercial sector in Ilha is opposed to that of Gorée : very few opportunities to buy souvenirs can be found and the sector could be expanded and differentiated, to the benefit of many.

56As in Gorée, the majority of the tourist actors run other activities, because tourism do not represent a means to sustain their living, despite several projects promoted by local and international Ngos. This critical situation is known to all the stakeholders interviewed during the fieldwork mission, but due to the severe social problems that affect the municipality, they all share a fatalistic attitude, but still some among them continue their campaign to promote sustainability in the island’s tourist development.

57Nearly 150-200 people find a job in the tourist sector, but this number has to be increased with several more indirect (fishermen, farmers, conveyor men, etc) or informal (guides, landlords, etc) jobs. The majority of them come from the island or the nearby area, except for the hotel personnel, who are professionally trained and come mainly from other regions of the country.

58The local tourist administration is composed by the tourist town councillorship, the GACIM (Gabinete de Conservação da Ilha de Moçambique), a board set up to protect and promote the island cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, and an association of local tourist operators named APETUR, extremely active in the fund raising to promote tourist events on the island and market its image nationally and abroad. It also aims at realising professional tourist training for the local unskilled (the majority of the island’s) operators, in order to improve their living conditions and the tourist image of the island.

59In 2008 GACIM has implemented a plan to promote the cultural heritage of the island to tourists, namely its tradition of tufo dance, the musiro , the missangas, the local gastronomy, the typical dhow boat and the rickshaw . The recovery and tourist exploitation of such assets goes through national and international events such as tourism fairs, and the proposal of tourist packages.

Document 11: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Traditional dances.

Document 11: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Traditional dances.

Picture by Elisa Magnani.

60In particular, the tourist town councillorship aims at involving the local population into opening up tourist activities and supervise their legal and correct function. Informal activities are generally tolerated, though, because for the majority of these tourist operators tourism is not the unique source of income, because it does not allow all-year round revenues, so to many people it is only a side activity carried out informally. Nonetheless, the drawback of such strong presence of informal guides and owners of accommodation is a general poor quality of the tourist sector of the island which, as said, leaves the visitors with a negative impression. Moreover, in the past several foreigners past have succeeded to buy and rehabilitate the stone houses, transformed into tourist accommodation, thanks to their greater purchase power and tourist skills. This trend is very dangerous for two reasons : firstly, the introduction of foreigners among the local population could lead to a general increase in the cost of life, to which the local population could respond with the abandonment of the island ; and secondly, this could introduce the risk of selling off the living culture of the island, because if the local population does not retain the right on their territory their culture could easily disappear, leading Ilha to become a beautiful residence for a rich foreign bourgeoisie.

61These three tourist subjects – GACIM, APETUR, Tourist town councillorship – work with the local museum to connect the local heritage and the tourist sector and cooperate to promote an image of Ilha de Moçambique as a key place in the history of the country, of Portugal, but also of places Others in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Document 12: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The built heritage, the Forte de São Lourenço with a traditiona dhow boat, and the Green Mosque.

Document 12: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The built heritage, the Forte de São Lourenço with a traditiona dhow boat, and the Green Mosque.

Pictures by Elisa Magnani

62The bairro museu was declared World Heritage Site in 1991 after the IV and VI criteria : while the first protects outstanding examples of a building technique or architecture of a significant moment in history (as Gorée), the second is awarded to places strongly connected to events and traditions, ideas or beliefs of the past : Ilha is thus recongnised by Unesco as an exceptional symbol of an historical period, with its buildings and urban structure, but also of an event – the slave trade – that has represented a key moment in African and global history.

63However, Ilha de Moçambique exploits very badly its connection to this episode : it is remarkable that on the island there is very few promotion of the slave trade memory, even if during the slave trade years thousands of slaves passed through it. This aspect of the world history and collective memory survives only in anecdotic tales of some tourist guides and in a Slave memory garden of recent construction (but it is already neglected and used by some as a motorbike parking). On the contrary, the recovery of such asset could find a potential market sector both in the growing number of cultural tourists, but also among Afro-Americans, willing to find their lost roots in a symbolic place in Africa.

64Tourism and culture promotion in Ilha de Moçambique are based mainly on the local heritage, but this promotion does not reach all the potential tourists due to the lack of visibility and the difficult accessibility of the island. The main cause of this situation is surely the widespread poverty among the local population and their constant need for the local administration intervention in the fields of education, sanitation, and traditional activities such as fishing.

65It is clear, as in Gorée, that tourism may only be regarded to as a complementary tool to sustain the economy of some families, but it does not impact the whole community. Moreover, the central administration, on its side, does not show great interest for such remote place, both because its tourist investments are directed towards other places with higher potentials, and because Ilha is rather far from the cultural interests of the capital town and is perceived by many as a place of memory connected to the colonial era rather than a place of a human tragedy whose memory has to be preserved (Houdayer, 1999). Finally, considering its remoteness and limited accessibility, Ilha is forced to confront natural and infrastructural limits that it cannot solve all by itself : it is only with the support of national strategies that it can develop both socially and touristically.

Conclusion

66In Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique the connection between tourism and culture is partially problematic.
History has produced several processes of territorialisation that have turned both islands into tourist places, in particular since the inclusion in the World Heritage List. However, despite the development opportunity brought by by tourism, we may now recognise that on both islands the territorial and social problems have worsened in the last decades, while their local population have been unable to improve their living condition through this activity. The reason for this is mostly connected to bad territorial governance, that has been unable to promote the participation of the local population to the tourist development decision making process. Moreover, poverty, lack of hygiene, under occupation, overpopulation, lack of professional training, lack of managerial skills affect the two islands and attract the biggest part of the local administration energies and finances.
The main lesson we may draw from the comparative study here proposed is that the key to an integrated tourist development is differentiation of the local cultural products, through the creation of an integrated offer to be marketed internationally in the form of a cultural itinerary (and with a connection to the Unesco Slave Route).
Obviously the two islands administrations cannot do it all by themselves, for the construction of transport infrastructures is for sure to be implemented by the central Government, and perhaps the Governments should launch a national campaign to promote the development of the two islands with the help of international cooperation, focussing mainly on fundraising, participation and empowerment of the local communities and training, in order for the local residents to become able to offer a quality cultural tourism product and to regain and keep the control on the changes that are occurring on their territories.
As Lozato-Giotard (2006) suggests, the lack of control may produce very negative impacts on the persistence of the two islands’ cultural environment and, being Gorée and Ilha de Moçambique living symbols of a collective heritage belonging not only to the local population but also to thousands of visitors, this has to be prevented in every possible way.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

ANGIUS M., ZAMPONI M., Ilha de Moçambique : convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino AIEP, 1999.

BARTOLETTI R., « ‘Memory tourism’ and commodification of nostalgia », in BURNS P., PALMER C., LESTER J-A., Tourism and visual culture. Volume 1, CABI International, Wallingford, 2010.

BAUM T., « The fascination of islands : a tourist perspective », in Lockhart D., Drakakis-Smith D., Island tourism. Trends and prospects, Pinter, London and New York, 1997.
BELLAGAMBA A., « Back to the Land of Roots. African American tourism and the cultural heritage of the River Gambia », Cahiers d’études africaines, 1-2, 193-194, 2009, pp. 453-476.

CAMARA A., « Gorée : passé, présent et futur », in Le patrimoine culturel africain, Maisonneuve et Larose, pp. 83-106, 2001.

CAPELA, J. « O trafico de escravos na Ilha de Moçambique », in ANGIUS M, ZAMPONI M. (Eds.), Ilha de Moçambique. Convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino, Aiep Edtore, pp. 54-69, 1999.

CHHABRA D., Sustainable marketing of cultural and heritage tourism, London and New York, Routledge, 2010.

COLES T., TIMOTHY D.J. (Eds.), Tourism, diasporas and space, London and New York : Routledge, 2004.

CURTO J. C., LOVEJOY P.E. (Eds.), Enslaving connections. Changing cultures of Africa and Brazil during the era of slavery, New York, Humanity Books, 2004.

DANN G., SEATON A. « Slavery, contested heritage and thanatourism », in DANN G., SEATON A. (Eds.), Slavery, contested heritage and thanatourism (1-29). New York and London, Haworth, 2001.

DAVIDSON B., The African slave trade. Oxford, James Currey 2004.

DIENE D., From chains to bonds. The slave trade revisited, New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books & UNESCO Publishing, 2001.

DUNKLEY R., MORGAN N., WESTWOOD S., « Visiting the trenches : exploring meaning and motivations in battlefield tourism », in Tourism Management, XXX 2010, pp. 1-9.

FORJAZ J., « Ilha de Moçambique : arte e arquitectura », in ANGIUS M., ZAMPONI M., Ilha de Moçambique : convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino AIEP, 1999.

GILROY P., The Black Atlantic, Roma, Meltemi, 2003.

HALL S., « Cultural identity and diaspora », in RUTHEFORD J., (Eds.), Identity, community, culture, difference, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1990.

HOUDAYER Y., « Ilha de Moçambique : utópica Muipiti ? », In ANGIUS M., ZAMPONI M., Ilha de Moçambique : convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino AIEP, 1999.

KING R., « The geographical fascination of islands », in LOCKHART D. DRAKAKIS-SMITH D., SCHEMBI J., The development process in small islands states, London and New York, Routledge, 1993.

KOUDESSA LOKOSSOU C., « The slave trade and cultural tourism ». In DIENE D. (Eds), From chains to bonds. The slave trade revisited, New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books & UNESCO Publishing, 2001.

LANDO F., « Turisticità : ipotesi per un’interpretazione », in SALA A. M., GRANDI S., DALLARI F., Turismo e turismi tra politica e innovazione, Patron, Bologna, 2008.

LE GOFF J., Memoria, Torino, Einaudi, 1982

LOBATO A., A Ilha de Moçambique, Imprensa Nacional de Moçambique, Lourenço Marquez, 1945.

LOFORTE A.M., MATE A., « Sociedades costeiras do Norte de Moçambique : gestão e maneio dos recursos. O caso da Ilha de Moçambique », in ANGIUS M., ZAMPONI M., Ilha de Moçambique : convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino AIEP, 1999.

LOZATO-GIOTART J.P., « Finalità turistica e finalità territoriale o la difficile coesistenza della tradizione e della modernità », in CUSIMANO G. (Eds.), Luoghi e turismo culturale, Bologna, Pàtron, 2006.

MAGNANI E., Turismo, memoria e tratta degli schiavi. L’heritage come strumento di sviluppo locale in Africa, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2013.

MCELROY J., DE ALBUQUERQUE K., « Problems for managing sustainable tourism in small islands », in APOSTOLOPOULOS Y., GAYLE D.J., Island tourism and sustainable development. Caribbean, Pacific and Mediterranean experiences, Westport, Praegel, 2002.

MEETAN K., « ‘To stand in the shoes of my ancestors’. Tourism and genealogy », in DANN G., SEATON A. (Eds), Slavery, contested heritage and thanatourism, Haworth, New York e London, 2001, pp. 139-150.

NEWLAND K., TAYLOR C., Heritage tourism and nostalgia trade : a diaspora niche in the development landscape, USAID, MPI, 2010.

PARK H.Y., « Heritage tourism. Emotional Journeys into Nationhood », in Annals of Tourism Research, 37, n° 1, 2010, pp. 116–135.

PITT D., « Sociology, islands and boundaries », World Development, vol. 8, pp. 1051-1059, 1980.

RENEAUDEAU M., Gorée, Paris, Richer-Hoa-Qui, 1985.

RUSSEL D. W., « Nostalgic Tourism », in Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 25, 2, 2008, pp. 103-116.

SMITH A. D., National identity, Penguin, London, 1991.

TIMOTHY D., Heritage and tourism. An introduction, Bristol Channel View Publications, 2011.

TIMOTHY D.J., BOYDS.W., Heritage tourism, Harlow, Prentice Hall, 2003.

TURCO A., Geografie della complessità in Africa : interpretando il Senegal, Milano, UNICOPLI, 1986.

TURRI E., Il paesaggio come teatro. Dal territorio vissuto al territorio rappresentato, Venezia, Marsilio, 1998.

UNESCO, Gorée. Island of memories, Paris, UNESCO, 1985.

WILSON J.Z., Prison. Cultural memory and dark tourism, New York, Peter Lang Publishing, 2008.

ZAMPONI M., « Encruzilhada de povos e culturas no Oceano Indico », in ANGIUS M., ZAMPONI M., Ilha de Moçambique : convergência de povos e culturas, San Marino AIEP, 1999.
www.unesco.org/culture/slaveroute

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Document 1: Dakar and Gorée,
Crédits Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Document 2a and 2b: Gorée, 2004. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings.
Crédits Pictures by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 52k
Titre Document 3: The position of Ilha de Moçambique in the country
Crédits Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 48k
Titre Document 4a and 4b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The state of poor conservation of some of the historical buildings and the coastal erosion.
Crédits Pictures by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Titre Document 5: Gorée, 2004. The Maison des Esclaves, with the Door of no Return at the back.
Crédits Picture by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Titre Document 6: Gorée, 2003. The charming narrow streets of Gorée.
Crédits Picture by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
Titre Document 7: Official map of Gorée, obtained by the mairie
Crédits modified by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Document 8: Gorée, 2004. The Marché Atrisanal.
Crédits Picture by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Titre Document 9a and 9b: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Macuti town.
Crédits Pictures by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Document 10: Map of Ilha. Source : modified
Crédits Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 32k
Titre Document 11: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. Traditional dances.
Crédits Picture by Elisa Magnani.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Document 12: Ilha de Moçambique, 2008. The built heritage, the Forte de São Lourenço with a traditiona dhow boat, and the Green Mosque.
Crédits Pictures by Elisa Magnani
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/978/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 46k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Elisa Magnani, « Culture and tourism? Limits and potential of sustainable tourist development in Gorée, Senegal and Ilha de Moçambique, Mozambique », Via [En ligne], 4-5 | 2014, mis en ligne le 26 octobre 2014, consulté le 22 avril 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/978 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/viatourism.978

Haut de page

Auteur

Elisa Magnani

Lecturer of Geography at the School of Languages and Literatures, Translations and Interpreting of the University of Bologna, her main research interests are cultural and memory tourism, connected to the heritage of the slave trade, tourism-based local development and community-based and pro-poor tourism in Africa, environment protection and community conservation strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. In relation to these topics she has carried out several fieldwork missions in Senegal and Mozambique.
Moreover, she studies the topics of best practices for social integration and intercultural dialogue, and of didactics of Geography connected to the use of information technologies.

Haut de page

Traducteur

Elisa Magnani

Lecturer of Geography at the School of Languages and Literatures, Translations and Interpreting of the University of Bologna, her main research interests are cultural and memory tourism, connected to the heritage of the slave trade, tourism-based local development and community-based and pro-poor tourism in Africa, environment protection and community conservation strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. In relation to these topics she has carried out several fieldwork missions in Senegal and Mozambique.
Moreover, she studies the topics of best practices for social integration and intercultural dialogue, and of didactics of Geography connected to the use of information technologies.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Via Tourism Review est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search