, ILO Training Materials
The potential for cultural tourism
Bobonaro, Ainaro & Lautem Districts |
There is real potential for the development of cultural tourism in all three Districts
under study. Timor-Leste has a strong, unique traditional cultural heritage with major
influences from Portuguese and Indonesian eras. Local leaders are justly proud of
their cultural heritage and keen to share this with visitors.
Interviewees were unanimous in their belief that cultural tourism will provide
economic benefits for their local communities that far outweigh any potential risks to
traditional culture or environment.
Findings about the impacts of cultural tourism in other similar countries are mixed. It
is however clear that the best outcomes for local communities are achieved through
a holistic approach that takes into account social, cultural, environmental and
economic impacts. A strategic approach is required that includes local communities
in all aspects of planning and implementation and an evaluation framework that
looks at outcomes across all areas of potential impact. A number of models exist that
are applicable to the Timoresecontext. Of most relevance are those models that
consider the perspective of poor people, gender equality and balance tourism activity
with other livelihood activities. For Timor-Leste to have any hope of sustaining its
cultural and natural assets a pragmatic approach to tourism is required, a balance of
direct and indirect contact to culture that will require collaborative planning between
cultural, tourism and environmental ministries.