Kurt Ackermann wrote a flattering blog on Open Africa with the above heading at afrikatourism.blogspot.com recently, which prompts the thought of whether tourists are tourists and travellers something different? Tourists are passive, want to be entertained, avoid hassles and like things to be well organised. This being the case, you would expect visitors to Open Africa routes, which are located in rural and marginalised ‘off the beaten track’ areas, to have something to say about the conditions out there.
In the beginning we fully expected a high proportion of the customer comments that come across www.openafrica.org to be critical, to at best contain a lot of advice about improvements that can be made. But 99% of them are complimentary and often more even than that, they identify with the initiative in what appears to be a familial relationship. This tells us that there is a stronger market segment than expected of people who want to see things as they are, want to interact with local communities, are curious about them and actively seek to experience the realities of rural life. These surely are travellers and not tourists, and for people like us engaged in development and conservation they are like angels from heaven.