Otis Diogo has worked in tourism in the south of Benin for almost twenty years. As the owner of a hotel and a travel agency, he advocates sustainable tourism, believing that this will best preserve the natural environment while benefiting the region’s inhabitants. Mandated by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is helping to develop a sustainable tourism concept. More than 400 people have undergone training and are working together to achieve this goal.
My country Benin has a rich cultural and historical heritage. The traditions here are still very lively: dance, music, arts and crafts. On top of this, visitors are drawn to the fascinating scenery and untouched nature here.
I am passionate about tourism. I enjoy enthralling visitors with artefacts and concepts that are completely new to them. The fact that I can earn a living doing something I love is just wonderful. For me it’s important that everyone in this region benefits from tourism. That’s why I volunteer at the tourist information office in Abomey, give lectures, advise my colleagues and hone holistic concepts for the region. And I am committed at a personal level too. For example, I always have an apprentice at the hotel. We choose young people who would not have much of a chance otherwise. The training is free and I help them find a job afterwards.
The work the tourist information office does has significantly improved the quality of tourism products on offer. Before, anyone involved in the tourist trade got by as best they could on their own – today we are networked and can exchange experiences and ideas. Useful information and training courses are helping to market the region’s tourist potential.
I am a particularly staunch advocate of our unspoiled natural environment. Environmental degradation often comes about because people are forced to deplete resources, because this is the only way to put food on the table. With sustainable tourism we are creating a source of income. Locals work as tourist guides and boat hands, they handcraft souvenirs or work in the hotel. And nature can continue to exist undisturbed.