Towards a tourism and community development framework: an African perspective
MetadataShow full item record
This research examines the potential of tourism to alleviate poverty and bring about community development in Manicaland province, Zimbabwe. It argues that tourism development in poor African rural communities can be a tool of poverty alleviation. Although tourism development has been known to reduce poverty through pro-poor tourism (PPT) and community-based tourism (CBT), poor people’s perspectives and experiences have not been given much attention. Limited research has also shown the importance of incorporating African people’s indigenous knowledge systems and culture in tourism development as a strategy of poverty reduction. Although tourism development may contribute to poverty alleviation, disempowerment and limitations to community participation in tourism are still prevalent in rural African communities visited by tourists. This research seeks answers to four main questions: What are the barriers to community participation in tourism as identified by CBT projects in Zimbabwe? What are the roles of tourism as a means of community development and poverty alleviation as perceived by local people in Manicaland? What are the obstacles to community development and poverty alleviation as perceived by local people in Manicaland? What are the roles of tourism as a means of community development and poverty alleviation as perceived by key informants? This research was designed in two stages. The first stage involved a content analysis of CBT projects in Zimbabwe, where a systematic search for documents was done. Eighty-four projects were identified, and twenty-two of them were found to have barriers to community participation in tourism. The second stage collected data through in-depth interviews in the case study area, where 43 poor people were interviewed. In-depth interviews were also conducted with 22 key informants in Harare and Manicaland. This research identified that local people perceive poverty as the lack of enough food to feed the family and attribute it to both internal and/or external causes. Tourism can be a viable strategy for poverty alleviation in Manicaland. However, the potential is negatively affected by the low tourist arrivals, the prevalent barriers to community participation in tourism, leakages, and thus reducing the benefits which could be realised by local people. It is also worsened by the policy framework, which denies rural people land ownership and the lack of devolution of powers and authority to grassroots levels. Most local people consider tourism a contributor to poverty alleviation. The most common limitations to community participation in tourism projects include limited tourism knowledge, limited time to take part in tourism due to other livelihood activities, inadequate benefits being realised from tourism, elite domination, and the marginalisation of women. Lack of employment and peripherality are the most important obstacles to poverty alleviation overall. This research suggests that the long-term viability of CBT projects in Africa needs external partners/donors to provide funding and capacitate the local people. However, in order to avoid over-reliance on external partners, the promotion of domestic tourism is suggested to boost revenue generation. From an African perspective, this research helps tourism scholars, planners, and policy-makers as it adds to the body of knowledge on the role of tourism as a means of poverty alleviation and community development. This research also contributes practically through the developed tourism and community development framework. This research argues that valuing the views and lived experiences of poor people may result in successful approaches and strategies to poverty alleviation in Africa.