News and Perspectives

About our Perspective on Area Development

Reserve your spot for the 2021 Executive Masterclass “Theme Park Development”

In 2020 tourism executives are invited to participate in this Executive Master Class on Theme Park Development. The secret for tourism diversification lies in drawing inspiration from your cultural heritage. But we take it a step further: we transform your legends into hi-tech tourism attractions, creating immersive experiences and developing rural area’s.

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Let me tell you a story about the Griot and the Rapper

Everywhere in the world, you find oral culture, and specifically, oral storytelling getting lost. But with changing of times, shifting populations and the rise of digital entertainment: Who will continue to weave these stories around the fireside, and who will be there to listen? And if there are willing listeners, how are they to be reached?

Perspective written by: Leontine van Hooft

It is very well likely that our ancestors gathered around the evening fires and expressed their fears, their beliefs, and their heroism through oral narratives. Community storytelling offered the security of explanation; how life and its many forms began and why things happen in the way they do, as well as entertainment and enchantment. Storytelling brings communities together. This long tradition of storytelling, an important form of art, is still evident in ancient cultures for example on the African continent. Not only for Africa, but this golden rule applies to every culture and can be found in lots of examples.

In the Middle Ages storytellers, also called a troubadour, minstrel or bard,  could be seen in the marketplaces and were honored as members of royal courts. Medieval storytellers were expected to know all the current tales to repeat all the noteworthy theses from the universities, to be well informed on court scandal, to know the healing power of herbs and simples (medicines), to be able to compose verses to a lord or lady at a moment’s notice, and to play on at least two of the instruments then in favor at court. But the times are changing…

Turbulent modern times & the search for identity

A culture is like a river, always floating and on the run, like a movement. Only the forms differ during the ages and generations. And so does the meaning of things. This is what storytelling, and art in common, reminds of.  It’s like an ongoing process and reflects the constant search for identity. That is why in Africa, like in other agrarian societies, the traditional moonlight storytelling culture has not disappeared but will continue to reach new forms of expression and be changing on the river of time.

“It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.”

– Khalil Gibran

It looks like that for the West it’s difficult to accept modern times, within these upcoming markets. In thinking and speaking about Africa’s spirit the West keeps repeating the same old ideas and prejudices, while the continent is constantly evolving and developing itself rapidly. Most Western people still look at Africa with an exotic look full of regret and pity. The idea that you have to go back in time to find the true African culture and identity is nonsense and is stopping developments.

Africa needs great modern storytellers to change the hardwearing image (how)

A Griot is an important medium in this case. Through storytelling and music, the Griot has shared and maintained the identities and histories of communities in West Africa for centuries. A Griot is a poet, singer, historian, musician, comedian, an entertainer and much more. There has been a lot of international studies regarding Griot culture having provided the African and African Diaspora with a way to reach back and carry forward their ancestral heritage. Therefore, it is essential that the memories and personal histories of people are being preserved. At this moment it is still possible. When the elders have died, a library dies with them, is an African saying. But are oral traditions associated with rural life really at risk of being lost to the past?

It is not a battle between tradition versus modernity

The obvious ways to translate the storytelling culture for consumption by a modern audience would be the approach of the West: simply recording and writing it down for the archive. But that would lose the fluid spontaneity which distinguishes oral culture. Because if you remove the performative element and the potential for interaction with both the surroundings and audience, then the magic and meaning of storytelling will vanish.

Where once the Griot had to travel by foot for many miles to share the stories of his king or community, now ICT enables local stories to be shared with the world online. The revolution unchained by mobile phone home-grown broadcasting is near.

Mass media, modern storytellers

Mass media can be seen as a cultural storyteller. It has a diversity of ways to reach big groups of people. One of the medium to reach the younger generation is through gaming. When world-class game makers cooperate with great storytellers ànd elders, games can be created with an interesting cultural touch. A great example is the wonderful game ‘Never Alone’,  which proves that heritage and modern technology can go hand in hand. Rather than written stories and archive filing, the possibilities of ICT enables storytellers to create, share and celebrate new and old stories.

Another ubiquitous example of these modern griots’ can be found in contemporary rap music such as DJ Lee of Griot B & School Yard Rap He tells and sings about the great history and misconceptions about Africa. These modern Griots serve as the ‘camera of today’s society’ and are important for identity development. Focusing on personal experiences, local issues and the struggles and successes of daily life and combining prepared verse with improvised commentary, the links between rap and griot styles are abundant.

Another way of oral-literary processing is by means of performance art. In Africa theatre matters. African theatre is entertainment, but it can also be aesthetically, politically, socially and spiritually committed, and often it is all these things simultaneously. It draws on indigenous performance traditions including dance, music, storytelling, and mime. At its best African theatre is a total experience, of mind, body, and soul which engages with, and feeds off a highly responsive, involved and vocal audience also a  kind of humorous performance. For example storyteller Diana Ferlatte.

Movies and films, such as Nollywood productions,  an audiovisual symphony with many layers and a great narrative wealth can be brought to the audience.  Africa’s spirituality allows a much richer layered reality because of the long and diverse traditions.

Floating between history,  reality and future aspirations the Griot’s values get a modern opportunity to create new meaning and spirituality and reach the younger generations. The interest in storytelling is unlikely to go away and, hopefully, griot traditions will be able to survive, prosper and inspire alongside new modes of storytelling, and with a little innovation and imagination, new traditions will be born.

Perspective written by: Leontine van Hooft

GreenDreamFoundation rewarded for Leadership

With dignity and pride our corporate foundation  received the Global NGO Leadership & Excellence award.

With Community Building as part of her core values and as incubator of innovative ideas, GreenDreamFoundation develops tourism labs that may grow into independently operating organisations.

Community building, managing diversity, welfare and community development in emerging markets, are at the heart of GreenDreamFoundation. These basic core values are grouped in specific Community Building Programmes. It is this “core business” through which GreenDreamFoundation operates in the Netherlands by creating employment, not only for paid staff but also for people with a distance to the labor market, for students and for volunteers

GreenDreamFoundation acts as an incubator of innovative ideas: new tourism development labs may arise, depending on the needs, along the journey to reach the destination. In the same way the nautilus animal creates new chambers as it matures, GreenDreamFoundation creates new labs where they arise autonomous but co-exist in interdependence.

The core, the existing labs and the emerging labs form a harmonious balance between being and becoming, of Ubu and Ntu: our moral compass Ubuntu.

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Tourism as a Force for Political Stability

While there is substantial literature investigating the economic benefits of tourism for countries, less literature delves into the political benefits of tourism.

In this paper, published by UNWTO, the authors investigate the issue of political conflict and the theoretical reasons that it is believed that tourism should lead to peacebuilding and political stability. Then, the authors deal with several case studies in which tourism has played a role or could play a role in political stability or peacebuilding. The authors illustrate via examples (Cyprus, Korea, and Ireland) that there are situations in which tourism has played a role or could play a role in supporting political cooperation and supporting political stability. The authors conclude, illustrating general observations regarding the relationship between tourism and political stability and the related concept of peacebuilding.

In addition, the authors make comments regarding what concrete and practical measures countries can take in order to utilize the engine of tourism for the purposes of bolstering political stability and encouraging the building of peace both within and between societies.

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Why you should Invest with Impact in an Experience Park

Our passionate curiosity about other cultures led us to Africa.  Certainly, there is poverty, but there is also something else: hope, passion and ambition, a very rich culture and … lot’s of business opportunities!

Leisure, hospitality and tourism industry are responsible for most of the gross national product of these upcoming markets. It’s the first sector that opens the window to the world and it creates a wind of change. Not only in the capital city, but also in rural areas.  Generating many jobs, skilled and unskilled , it makes people able to look with different eyes, being proud on their environment.  And of course, investments in hospitality and real estate brings big opportunities for investors.
This is why we, at GreenDreamCompany, have developed the product of Experience Parks.
At GreenDreamCompany we believe in making the largest possible impact in new and upcoming markets.

Please watch this video to get a feeling on how we want to make a difference.

Interested in investing with impact?

The Experience Parks are scalable, the concept adapts to any country: telling the legends and cultural stories, showing the highlights of the region in a pleasant and natural setting. Through government commitment and finding optimum cooperation with local stakeholders, this means lower risk and an interesting ROI for investors who are seeking mid- or longterm capital investments.

Our ideal investor knows Africa! He or she knows Africa has it’s challenges but also has a booming economy.
He or she want to be part of the opportunities that comes with it. A global orientated, colourful person or company, willing to share his network.  Our ideal investor has a business approach but is dedicated to these ventures. He or she understands that investing in people and nature is part of the deal. He/she must appreciate a sense of belonging.

Technical information about our projects:

Financial information about the investment propositions:

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Europe: do we understand the value of tourism?

Last perspective we discussed the impact that tourism has on least developed countries, mainly focussed on Africa. Looking at the news of the last few weeks, all we see is news updates on overcrowded cities such Amsterdam, Venice and Barcelona. Locals are angry. ‘The city has completely lost its identity.’, “tourism kills neighbourhoods.” And “Tourists go home” are common messages that are communicated by inhabitants of many European cities. Does tourism here not have the same value as it has in countries in Africa? Or are we in the west too spoiled with our economy that we do not see the real potential that tourism has?

Tourists are invading cities

With tourists invading popular cities in Europe many countries are thinking about regulating the number of arrivals of tourists in their cities. For example, in Barcelona they are thinking about a tourist’s tax, Croatia wants to decrease cruise ships and other cities want to decrease the amount of tourists at popular spots. How can tourism be good for a country or city while all it does is create rubbish, noise, take over houses for locals and destroy national heritage?

Tourism: what are the numbers?

The research company Oxford Economics calculated that the tourism sector creates 10.2% of the world GDP. In the whole world tourism brings in 6400 billion euro’s. Besides this amount of money it also creates 1 out of 10 jobs (292 million). The tourism industry is the fastest rising industry in the world and therefore experts say that tourism is becoming more and more important for Europe and the world. Worldwide there are countries where more than half of their income is from tourism. The Maldives is most highly ranked with 77.8% of their GDP (!). In Europe, Croatia is leading with 18.8%, but also in Italy, France and Spain the contribution of tourism is high.

Authenticity is leading

The problem is that in tourism people are looking for two things: comfort and authenticity. Travel agencies are adjusting towards their customers’ demand, while locals need to show hospitality towards these tourists and be ‘authentic’. It makes sense that all popular cities like Amsterdam (the iconic houses), Barcelona (the Gaudi buildings) and Venice (the canals) are overcrowded. All these cities have something in common: it has something authentic. But in order to keep attracting tourists to these cities (and countries) it is therefore mostly important to keep this authentic culture. So, what do you need? The locals. In all of these cities it is very difficult to find a local and ask where to go. It is all tourists. (Venice, which has 265,000 inhabitants for around 24 million visitors annually.). But also the preservation of the heritage sites are important in order to keep attracting tourists. Research has shown that: Nearly 50% of World Heritage sites, which are recognized by UNESCO for their outstanding universal value, do not have tourism management plans in place to prevent the negative impacts of tourism.’ 

What you see happening is that the enthusiasm to travel is increasing but the enthusiasm of the cities and locals is increasing. There is a problem there. Looking at all the activists in these cities that are trying to ban tourists, these locals forget that their economy is also highly depended on the tourism sector. In Spain for example tourism drives 12% of the total economy. In Dubrovnik, Croatia they do not demonstrate as most people make a living out of tourism, but they do believe that they might become the victim of their own success. Maybe there is a task for the government of these cities to connect the advantage of tourism with the interests of the inhabitants. Create sustainable tourism where meeting each other is central, where it will add value to the quality of life of the locals and the tourists.

The role of the ministry of tourism

The situation that is arising in these cities seems to be connected to a lack of vision from the governments in these countries. In Turkey the ministry of tourism has shared a strategy for tourism in the whole country. He said that tourism can be a facilitator between communities and countries, it can lead to new ideas and shared values between cultures. It might even help in solving political conflicts and keeping peace.

Maybe countries like Spain, Italy, Croatia and the Netherlands are wise to think about adding tourism to their political agenda and think of a national strategy to keep tourists to their countries, but start marketing other parts of the country to spread the tourists across the country. Create a tourism infrastructure. In this way we can all enjoy visiting new places and still have a good quality of life in our hometown.




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Turkish news

A GreenDream’s Perspective: How tourism can contribute to the world’s most important goals

If you have followed the news lately you cannot help but notice that a lot has been written on tourism and sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that have been set by the United Nations but most importantly the role that tourism can play in reaching these goals. Enough information to give our view on this topic, we thought.

Recently the Dutch news channel NOS reported that Africa is becoming the fastest growing destination when it comes to tourism. The most of these tourists visit the North and South of Africa (that is where the resorts are situated) which cover 64% of the total amount of tourists. You would think that most of these tourists are international but it might surprise you that 4 out of 10 tourists are from Africa itself. These regional business-, medical- and leisure trips are contributing to the growth of tourism in Africa. But why is tourism actually increasing?

Tourism as a facilitator of economic growth

In a report from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2017) on ‘tourism for sustainable development in least developed countries’ it has been mentioned that “international tourist arrivals have experienced an annual increase of around 4% since 2009” and at the moment the world’s total exports consists 7% of tourism and the world’s services 30%. Here it can be seen that tourism is very important for trade. The report also says that tourism can actually reach the goals of the SDG in 2030 when it comes to sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption, production and also the sustainable use of the oceans and marines. This means that tourism will represent 10% (!) of the gross domestic product in the world. But it will not only contribute to these three goals, tourism ‘has the potential’ to directly and indirectly contribute to all of the SDG’s, which are 17 in total. (This would mean that all the three dimensions of sustainable development are managed: economic, social and environmental) Wow! That sounds impressive right?

Tourism: How are we doing?

The UNWTO has defined sustainable tourism as: ‘tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities’’. How is tourism doing at the moment?

  • It is providing one out of ten jobs in the world. Mostly the vulnerable young and women get into the labour market.
  • The world’s 48 least developed countries received 29 million tourists.
  • These countries see tourism as a sector that can provide them with economic development, job creation, and poverty reduction and can improve their international reputation.
  • Tourism provides foreign exchange and investment, it generates employment and business opportunities.
  • With the increase of tourists in a country the export and import of services also increases.

It can be concluded that a lot is happening in the tourism sector, especially in the least developed countries. What is needed to expand this growth?

Economic performance, policies and image.

The UNWTO has set five pillars for sustainable tourism that are most important.

·         Pillar 1- Tourism policy and governance

·         Pillar 2- Trade Investment, Data and Competitiveness

·         Pillar 3- Employment, Decent Work and Capacity Building

·         Pillar 4- Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion

·         Pillar 5- Sustainability of natural and cultural environment

From all of the 48 least developed countries most of the countries would say that the second pillar is most important. Followed by the first. The first pillar makes countries aware of the importance of having a proper tourism strategy and a solid ministry of Tourism for example. Following these pillar Rwanda, for example, created a tourism policy for 2020. But something that gives struggles considering the second pillar ‘economic performance’ is the bad reputation that Rwanda, due to the genocide, and other countries face due to wars, social strives and poverty. The media also keeps that image alive and travel warnings from other countries make that is very hard for such a country to break this image. This means that very good marketing is needed to change this image. Easier said than done.

Skills and cultural heritage

Seeing that tourism is important in many countries, three other subjects come to mind: education and preserving cultural heritage and nature. In many of these countries there is still a gap between the skills that are required and the skills that they actually possess. When there are colleges, they do not have the qualified instructors. Also speaking different languages, most importantly English, and giving good service to customers are requirements for a good tourism sector. From a GreenDream’s perspective we would also say that is not only important to understand what ‘offering service’ is, but also understanding different cultures and seeing that every culture has different rules and manners. Another pillar, which is also perfect for tourism is the preserving of cultural heritage and nature. Many countries are protecting their wildlife and are creating more nature reserves.

What needs to happen?

Mostly everyone needs to understand the importance of tourism. It is not something that is just a fun thing, it can actually help a country grow economically, provide jobs, creating value chains, help local businesses expand and preserve nature and cultural heritage. Instead of only supporting countries with money for food, why should we not invest in tourism projects that are creating real impact in these least developed countries? Cooperation between different stakeholders, including the ones in charge for the environmental sustainability, could help tourism make a real impact in the world!

Interested how GreenDreamCompany is working on facilitating sustainable tourism and therewith make an impact? Visit our website or contact us.