What is it like to live on an island that is highly dependent on inbound tourism?
Tourism brings economic prosperity to Cape Verde, but it also brings challenges, such as litter. When waste infrastructure on the island was planned, it didn’t take into account the growing numbers of visitors and the waste they would generate. The wind blows the litter to the beaches and sea, and it’s important for us to find ways of keeping plastic out of the marine environment.
It can also be a challenge to maintain a sense of community in the town when many Santa Maria residents are not local, and are temporarily living here for professional or business reasons.
In the low season, it can be tricky for residents to maintain their incomes. Some small business try to earn as much as they can during high season and then close during low season. Some negotiate with staff to keep them on and give paid or partially-paid vacations. Hospitality staff try their luck with side jobs in other areas (help with a family business, construction, driving, house-cleaning, etc).
What are the solutions?
Extending the season really helps local people. Some hotels and travel agencies are targeting different markets that travel during our summer time – for instance bringing Portuguese and Spanish people during summer, when Nordics do not come. Some travel agencies are also targeting residents from the other islands with promotional packages (flight/accommodations), therefore domestic tourism has been (slowly) increasing.
Keeping the local scene lively means the island is buzzing all year, and attractive to diaspora tourists visiting home as well as tourists from other islands. This helps reduce dependency on international tourism, and eases the issue of seasonal incomes and employment.
Last but not least, our Energy, Waste and Water efficiency projects on Sal will create behaviour change that will translate into less waste generated on the island.
By understanding the impacts, positive and negative, of tourism on this island, stakeholders can work together to make the industry better for people and the environment… for years to come!