Gastronomy Tourism presenting traditional African food can be a tool to improve rural livelihoods.
Photo: ©shutterstock/Rimma Bondarenko

Tourism as a driver of rural development

Participants at UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism discussed how gastronomy tourism can foster rural development in Africa. They agreed that it can support small, local food producers and strengthen their position in the market.

Tourism and gastronomy can foster socio-economic development, especially in rural communities. Chefs and marketing specialists came together to explore the best way to promote African gastronomy in the world, at the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism Gastronomy Tourism: Promoting Rural Tourism and Regional Development, held in Bruges, Flanders in early November 2021. 

“Gastronomy tourism adds vitality to rural communities, supports small, local food producers and strengthens their position in the market, contributing to add value to the tourism experience while promoting the preservation and development of local produce and know how”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, opening a special session dedicated to African Gastronomy.

Coordination between tourism and agricultural and rural development policies at the global, national, and local levels has to be strengthened, to make sure that gastronomy tourism can grow as a driver of rural development, the participants agreed. They discussed the best ways of designing gastronomy tourism strategies and practices that ensure the sustainable use of resources, the promotion of local products and know-how, and responsible consumption.

The session concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNWTO and Chefs in Africa, committing to promote knowledge and skills, and to foster innovation, sustainability and rural development.

Chefs in Africa

“When we talk about food, we talk about sharing and education,” says Dieuveil Malonga, Founder of Chefs in Africa and Finalist of the Basque Culinary World Prize  who presented the initiative Chefs in Africa at the Forum. Founded five years ago, the initiative aims to connect chefs in Africa with each other. Moreover, they work with farmers in rural areas to connect them with restaurants and chefs. There are more than four thousand members at the Chefs in Africa platform. Some 75 per cent of them are chefs; 25 per cent are farmers and people working in gastronomy and hospitality.

Chef in Africa is working on:

  • Connect & Create Contents: Bring together chefs from the African continent and the diaspora, local craftsmanship to write new narratives
  • Education of Talents: Educate and put talents from the continent at the forefront of a global culinary revolution
  • Gastronomic Branding: Representing Africa’s gastronomic destination through authentic storytelling.

With the project Vision 2023: Musanze, Rwanda – A culinary destination the initiative is going to realise the first Culinary Innovation Village on more than four hectares of land in Musanze, in the northern province of Rwanda. Construction is planned to start in June next year. The village will encompass a culinary centre to train young chefs of tomorrow, says Malonga. 

Ines Lechner, Rural 21

More information:

Watch the special session dedicated to African Gastronomy at the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism on YouTube

More information on the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism at UNWTO website

Visit the Chefs in Africa website

Download the book A Tour of African Gastronomy at UNWTO website

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