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Over the last three decades, community based tourism (CBT) has been promoted as a tourism product development, where all three needs (social, economic and environmental) of local communities are taken into consideration (Goodwin and Santilli, 2009). The main focus of the community based tourism is to involve host community into tourism development planning in order to maintain and build more sustainable industry (Blackstock, 2005). Moreover, community based tourism development seeks to build up and reinforce the institutions, which enhance a participation of the locals and promote economic, social and cultural welfare of the population. Community Based Tourism refers to a type of tourism that aims at incorporating and benefiting the local communities, specifically the villagers and indigenous population in the developing countries. Its main focus is on the impact of the tourism on the environment and local community.
A community involvement and participation approach has been identified as the most important part of sustainable tourism development (Goodwin & Santilli, 2009). To reduce negative impacts of tourism in order to increase its positive effects, it is predicted that the participation approach increases community’s carrying capacity (Okazaki, 2008). It is thus necessary to build and prepare the host community to manage the tourism. There should be public awareness towards the realization of CBT as a tool of the community for cultural preservation and resource conservation. This will end up attracting more tourists. The major elements of Community Based Tourism are the cultural and natural resources, the organizations of the community, the management and learning. The main idea of the community participation is to involve different stakeholders such as local government, locals, developers and many more, in decision making process (Haywood, 1988).
Community Based Tourism presents numerous benefits to the local community. These benefits can be grouped into various categories. The categories are social, economic, political, environmental and cultural benefits. In terms of economic benefits, the community based tourism raises finances for development of the community. CBT creates employment in tourism. It also raises the income of the local community. The political benefits of CBT are such like enabling the involvement of local people, augmenting the power of local community and ensuring rights in the management of natural resources (Haywood, 1988). In terms of social benefits, the Community Based Tourism raises the standard of living, promotes the pride of the community, enhances fair distribution of duties in relation to age and gender and creates organizations of community management. Cultural benefits are encouraging the respect of distinct cultures, fostering exchange of cultures and developing the culture of local people. The environmental benefits include such like managing a waste disposal, raising the awareness of the conservation need and studying the carrying capacity of the region.
There are various stakeholders in the Community Based Tourism. These are the government, the local community, developers and the tourism industry. Each stakeholder needs to be involved in decision making so as to ensure sustainability. The local community entails persons of distinct economic classes, family groups, gender, ethnic groups, and several interest groups. Efforts to involve the local community should embrace the diversity existing in it (Haywood, 1988). The role of the community is to be involved in the whole process of planning, entailing assessment of resources, problems identification and designing actions of countering them.
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The government is involved in the Community Based Tourism in terms of policy formulation. Such policies are the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Management Plans. The government operates under various governmental agencies. The mandates are protection, economic development and management of CBT. The national government lays out the framework of biodiversity conservation and tourism development through legislation and policies. On the other hand, the local authorities are set to implement the legislation and policies regarding conservation of the biodiversity and tourism development.
The tourism industry also has roles to play in CBT. It consists of the inbound operators, outbound operators and the service providers at the local level. Outbound tour operators enhance a continuous flow of tourists, influence choices of consumers and determine the extent of tourist’s payment. Tour operators provide consumers with basic information concerning the potential markets, advice on the places to visit, take an active part in marketing and provide training to local guides.
A tourist is another stakeholder who plays an essential role in ensuring the overall success of the Community Based Tourism. Tourists visit a community; they pay the fees and also buy items from the local community. The tourist has a responsibility to respect the local community, protect and conserve the environment and protect and respect the culture of local people.
Through employing various sustainable development tools, Community Based Tourism can be made sustainable. Economically, sustainable development prevails when there are income from local production, self-reliance and diversified home economy (Brohman, 1996). Sustainable CBT will raise funds for the development of the community, job creation and advancement of income of local people. When the development is people centered, social justice exists, quality of life is satisfying and there are active organizations of the community then there exists sustainable social development. CBT will be sustainable if it leads to improvement of the quality of life, distribution of duties fairly and promotion of community pride. Informal and formal education, passage of culture to the coming generation and preservation of culture is sustainable development. Sustainable tourism will enhance cultural exchange, respect for distinct cultures and development of local culture (Brohman, 1996).
A Case Study of Community Based Tourism in Dominica
Dominica is situated in the eastern Caribbean with an area of seven hundred and fifty four square kilometers. According to 2001 census the population of the country was 69,625 people. Its economy has historically been founded on agricultural activities until the 1990s when the focus of the economy shifted to tourism development. This has provided an alternative source of job creation and foreign exchange. The tourism industry in Dominica was not largely developed, not until when the agricultural sector was faced with a crisis due to the banana industry decline. This led to the development of the nature tourism in Dominica. Construction of several cruise ships andseveral more accepted attractions were upgraded (Haywood, 1988). The government has put forward several initiatives in prioritising the CBT.
A tourism policy was passed in 2005 that ensured participation of local community in the sector of tourism. This led to the setting up of Morne Trois National Park and World Heritage Site. This park is located in the southern part of Dominica; it has an area of twenty five square miles protecting various attraction sites including the Fresh Water Lake, which is covered in this case study. The community around this park is Laudat village, which is the habitat of Warmmae Letang Group. It is located 4.2 kilometers to the west of the lake with an elevation of seven hundred and sixty meters above sea level (Haywood, 1988). The population is about 342 people with two dozen of them working at Rainforest Aerial Tam. Others are farmers and workers of private and public sectors.
The project is managed by the Ministry of Tourism and the Forestry Department. The program of COMPACT participates as well in the management arrangements. Another crucial body in the management is the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) (Okazaki, 2008). It is responsible for enforcing standards for providers of tourism and for marketing Dominica. It also offers tour guide training. The activities performed to enable the achievement of the goals of CBT were based on providing kayak and boat tours, trail hiking tours and catering services provision at the Visitors Centre.
The CBT project has had numerous benefits to the local community. In case of human development, several people have been trained in safe boating and CPR. Women gained and advanced their catering skills after operating in dining and kitchen facilities. Advancement in management skills of the Managing Director was reported. Social development is evident since family ties were strengthened. Physical advancements of areas surrounding the Freshwater Lake were conducted. Infrastructure was also developed, for instance, roads are of good quality. There are also new plans of further advancement of the infrastructure (Okazaki, 2008). As for political benefits, the Managing Director emphasized the processes of negotiations, which ensured the involvement of local political leaders. He also sought for advice and guidance from the local political leaders when the project was faced with difficulties. The employment offered to the locals and the goods and services they sold to the WGL were the key financial benefits.
The activities generating revenue are sustainable in nature. This project has anchored jobs like caterers, drivers and tour guides. Each job is potentially sustainable, when the product well packaged and essential marketing is conducted. The nature activities in the lake could expand thus attracting regional and local tourists. Opportunities for using the area for educational functions are great given the bio-diversity, history and geology of this region.
The CBT was faced with a number of challenges, which originated from the workers and the project itself. World Heritage Site was a challenge since WLG had to perform restricted activities that suit its status (Haywood, 1988). For instance, the operation hours were controlled and people who visited the site after the closing hours had to be asked to leave the territory. Seasonality of the business of tourism has been a shortcoming to WLG. Another challenge is the arrangement of the institution and mutual agreements between the managing bodies. The bodies include the Ministry of Tourism, WLG management and Department of Forestry. Leadership is another key challenge. The sense of ownership of the Managing Director led to some problems; he disowned the advice of other parties and, as a result, some group members left. Another challenge is the participation and governance of the members of WLG (Haywood, 1988). The COMPACT, which had more members, has only the Managing Director and his family. The officers appointed by the group members did not assume their correct roles. Capability building was not sustainable. Anticipations of livelihood benefits were unrealistic.
Despite those challenges, WLG coped with them and moved on. The key government agencies were reserved in the allocation of responsibilities and rights. When some members of the group left, the Managing Director hired others. There was also a consensus to re-launch the project. The management was also appointed afresh (Goodwin & Santilli, 2009).
A Case Study of Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust in Botswana
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust (KRST) is a community based wildlife project, established in Botswana. It was initiated in 1954 by the villages of Paje, Serowe and Mabeleapudi. The territory of the sanctuary is roughly 4,300 hectares. It is surrounded by three villages. KRST is managed by a group of trustees selected from those villages. It contains 10 members; 8 from Serowe, 1 from Paje and 1 from Mabeleapudi. The trust hires 26 people where majority of them come from these villages. KRST deals with breeding and conservation of white rhinos. The sanctuary performs environmental education. It also involves itself in tourism.
The KRST project has benefited the community. Children visit the site during school tours and get educated concerning the animals which live there. Creation of employment is another benefit. Locals also earned income from tourists who bought goods from them. Initiation of projects of local development was noted, for example, due to donations houses for orphans were built. People from outside the villages rent houses there so leading to the fact local people earn money(Botswana, 1990). The sanctuary led to improvement of living conditions of the local community through employment.
The challenges faces by the community are diverse. The farmers lost their cattle inside during fencing and they were never compensated. They also lost their ownership to the tribal land. Lack of opportunities for generating income for private businesses was the major challenge. The villagers lack information regarding KRST and its benefits (Botswana, 1990). The culture of the community is not well exposed. Lack of effective community involvement is another challenge. They are not consulted and are never involved in decision making.
To ensure sustainability of KRST, there is a need for the community to participate in the project and contribute to it. Management should include other villagers apart from the owners. To cope with the challenges, the management organise a community open-day each year. They marketed intensely the project locally and internationally. One share of the revenue had to go to the locals while another share is used to develop the sanctuary.
The main difference between the two case studies is that the Community of Dominica’s CBT project is involved in decision making and participation, unlike the community in KRST, which is largely excluded. The KRST community lost their land and animals but those in Dominica did not. The Dominica’s community benefited politically, socio-culturally and economically (Britton, 1982). Nevertheless, the community around KRST benefited only economically. The CBT in Dominica is sustainable due to the involvement of the community as compared to the KRST, which excludes the community.
The development of WLG was brought about by involving local community in decision making and participation. They appreciated the project leading to its development (Casley & Cury, 1981). Most people of the local community were employed in the WLG project therefore leading to community development. KRST is less developed due to excluding the local community from decision making and participation. KRST only employed a few locals and the decision making process involved owners only. The community does not appreciate the project and they are not ready to support it.
In conclusion, CBT should be community-centered. It should be aimed at largely benefiting the community. Sustainable CBT is the one that leads to political, cultural, social, economical and environmental development of the local community. The two case studies indicate distinct CBT projects conducted in different areas. They highlight the benefits achieved by the communities around them and the challenges faced.