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Tourism and Community Involvement Essay

The co-relationship between tourism development and host communities has proven to be a powerful combination in deciding the possibility and future of tourism development in a given destination. Aref (2011) supplements that in spite of skills and awareness, the pace of tourism development at a destination is measured by how host communities perceive tourism development. Host communities are the major stakeholders to decide the future of tourism for they are dependable suppliers in the tourism industry (Holden, 2008).

The local residents can exclusively pose a deterrent effect on tourism if not given priority or badly involved. Horner and Swarbrooke (2004) claims that the failure to create democratic systems and procedures to enable community members to become actively involved and take responsibility for their own development has arguably crippled tourism development in Africa. This means communities are deprived of decision-making powers, and therefore developers may be reluctant to formulate tourism strategies with sound institutional frameworks based on partnerships between the host communities and other stakeholders.

This piece of work is therefore designed to establish how host communities can drive tourism, what necessary elements must be considered in involving communities so that tourism development is a success venture at destinations. What is community involvement? Community involvement, according to Muganda, Sirima and Ezra (2013), can be seen as a process whereby the residents of a community are given a voice and a choice to participate in issues affecting their lives in relation to tourism development.

One may argue that the pace of tourism development is virtually determined by how local communities view and perceive tourism, who can alternatively guarantee the future of tourism in a given destination. Community involvement in tourism can be considered from at least two viewpoints, namely the decision-making process that would involve community participation and the benefits of tourism development such as employment and business opportunities (Nsibimana, 2010).

Research findings suggest that community participation in the tourism development should be spearheaded by national governments which can help local people (top-down approach) to obtain economic benefits within industry whilst encouraging them to operate small scale businesses rather than creating opportunities for them to have a say in the process of decision making of tourism management and conservation policies.

Ogechi and Oyinkansola (2012) notions that a community in terms of tourism should be broadly viewed inclusively with tourism industry operators, non-tourism business practitioners, local community groups, indigenous people groups and local residents. Therefore planning and policy made by tourism developers must holistically prioritise the welfare of the host communities which comprises the above aforementioned critical components of the host communities.

Aref (2010) and Aref (2011) claims that host communities are the most determinant factor in ensuring sustainable goals pursued by tourism developers. How host communities are involved in tourism development Community involvement is a mechanism for active community participation in partnership working, decision making and representation of community in all structures designed for tourism development (Weaver, 2007). It is alternatively viewed as the participation of the community or their direct involvement in tourism development processes.

Blackman, Foster, Hyvonen, Jewell, Kuilboer and Moscardo (2004) proclaims that community participation increases people’s sense of control over issues that affect their lives and also promotes self-confidence and self-awareness. Community involvement can be expressed in various ways which include local employment policy, promotion of local businesses, decentralized decision making, local control in some aspects of development and other folds that promote local residents interests.

Providing employment to locals is among the best steps to involve local residents in tourism development. Tosun and Timothy (2003) argue that tourism development has positively affected the sustainability of local social lives of the host communities especially in newly developing destinations. Based in the research findings presented by Ogechi and Oyinkansola (2012) on Osun Oshogbo Sacred Grove (Nigeria), tourism has changed local social lives by creating new jobs (66. 6%), provided foreign exchange earnings (33. %), by 2010 in the region under study.

This simply shows how decentralised tourism development was, giving platform to all community components in working hand in glove with tourism development leading to the sustainability of the industry by satisfying the welfare of host communities. The approach in community involvement must be top-bottom which emphasises leadership of the public sector (the government) to lay down foundation of policy for development in the community rather than development of the community (Holden, 2008).

Based on the research findings presented by Mazibuko (2000), KwaNgcolosi (Kwazulu natal) community needs a provision of adequate water facilities and a proper road in order to win local resident favours. Tosun and Timothy (2003) argues that the reluctance of African communities to assimilate tourism development starts with levels of literacy, thus they lack basic education which is a prerequisite of community capacity building for uniform development.

One can arguably notion that the degree of dissatisfied with the way in which job opportunities are created in the reserve is evident why members of the community do not embrace the industry in their societies. Keyser (2002) strengthens that if such needs can be attended to or even compensated with proper job opportunities in the reserve or entrepreneurship skills development, the community could feel as part of development. Tourism development and host communities in conflict

One of major reasons that can be forwarded for the slow growth of tourism in developing destinations is clear conflicts between local residents with tourism developers (Ogechi & Oyinkansola, 2012). Besides the economic considerations, the host environment and society can also suffer adverse impacts when tourism development is not communicated to host communities. The local environment is a key attraction for tourism, yet a fast-growing industry can result in environmental degradation which forms a base of misunderstandings with locals especially in aboriginal cultural areas and developers.

The behaviour of visitors may be culturally inappropriate for residents such as indigenous groups, which can result in locals becoming unwilling hosts (Scheyvens, 2002). The process of acculturation may result in the irritation of locals as a result of foreigners, hence a decline in the life cycle of tourism at a destination. Weaver (2007) believes that a strange experience by host communities is a source of conflict between hosts and tourism development.

Strange experiences are experiences brought by tourism development, which negatively changed the perceptions of host communities. An increase in the consumption of resources, mass tourism taking up space and destroying the countryside by creating new infrastructure and buildings were a source of conflict in Tanzania (Ezra etal. , 2013). Tourism also has the potential to increase waste and litter production, upsets natural ecosystems, introduce exotic species of animal and plants (Ivanoic, Khunou, Reynish, Pawson, Tseane & Wassung, 2009).

In spite of an improved image by the 2010 world cup in South Africa, one may argue that increased prices and the local population losing ownership of land, houses, trade stands and services for the sake of tourists are some conflicts (strange experiences) associated with tourism development and host communities. All this spells out signs of community disempowerment when agencies initiate tourism development and treat communities as passive beneficiaries by failing to involve them in decision-making.

Hence, a majority of community members feel that they have little or no say over whether or not tourism initiatives operate in the way in which their interests are served (Holden, 2008). Tourism development and host communities in symbiosis The symbiosis of the two is clearly shown by the sustainability of tourism at a given destination. Symptoms of symbiotic relationship between host communities and tourism at a destination include viable economy, improved standards of living for locals as a result of growing tourism development (Blackman etal. , 2004).

The mutual understanding between the two key stakeholders lead to the management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity and life support systems (Nsibimana, 2010). According to Aref (2011), the symbiosis of tourism development and host communities is characterized by the increase and complements in financial income, improves facilities and infrastructures, allows greater investment for the preservation of natural or cultural enclaves.

Good relationship can also be viewed on stability of the local population in the destination where they do not vacate the area. Mazibuko (2000) postulates that awareness of locals for the need to protect the environment and culture is another sign of local positivity to tourism development. Mostly, locals are willing to exchange ideas, customs and ways of life with tourists and tourism developers in symbiotic ratio of tourism and host communities. Elements to be considered for effective community involvement in tourism development

Community involvement is successfully done by taking into consideration certain elements that are embrace community approach. Best elements to be adopted must make host communities as beneficiary client groups thereby influencing the direction and execution of a development project with a view to enhancing their well beings (Ezra etal. , 2013). In terms of well-being, the focus is on income, personal growth, self-reliance or other values they cherish (host communities) to be rectified into (Holden, 2008).

Elements to be considered in effective community involvement must bear appropriate plan, monitor and management of communities to ensure that they do not conflict with tourism development objectives and sustainable use of resources. Of greatest importance, elements to be drawn in when involving the communities must compromise the livelihood of local residents (Weaver, 2007). Policy and institutional mechanisms should be established to encourage local participation in the design, implementation and management of tourism projects and local use of tourism resources (Nsibimana, 2010).

At least, local communities should be empowered to determine what forms of tourism facilities they want to see developed in their respective communities, and how tourism costs and benefits should be shared among different stakeholders. Aref (2011) assures that socio-political changes will require decentralisation of tourism authority and decision-making processes from a national level to elected regional and grassroots institutions and organisations such as district councils, administration sectors and local community villages. This presents a platform for self expression by local residents.

Local communities should develop a pool of resources, including financial support, human capital, and ownership of tourism projects, as well as marketing exposure (Scheyvens, 2002). Local people should be actively involved in each and every stage of tourism planning and development in order to ensure that all their tourism projects and products are integrated in tourism programmes that are reserved for visitors. This effectively bridges tourists and locals as they share the same resources with mutual understanding (Mazibuko, 2000).

The approach that will see residents in Africans actively participate in the decision making process of activities that are related to tourism and conservation in the area should be community based (Ogechi & Oyinkansola, 2012). Using the participation typology tourism developers should use an interactive participation approach where people, including local communities and tourism developers themselves, will participate in joint analysis, development of action plans and formation or strengthening of local institutions.

Tosun and Timothy (2003) claims that tourism developers should also recognise that through this process local group should take control over local decisions and determine how local resources should be used. The can be adopted to capacitate locals to maintain structures and practices in order for community-based tourism and conservation to materialise in concerned destinations. Local communities should be engaged and should be involved in development programmes in their villages right from the start (Ivanovic etal. , 2009).

This process will present a significant step towards ensuring more adequate participation in conservation and tourism (Holden, 2008). However, considering the fact that there is a lack of skills within local communities to make decisions independently governments should develop strategies that will see more local skills strengthened. This means that for some time local people will only participate through consultation until necessary skills are produced within the local communities so that interactive participation can be fully implemented.

Environmental education should be provided communities for awareness. Far too often people who live on the periphery never get an opportunity to experience and learn more about the wildlife that live within the game reserves (Ezra etal. , 2013). This is especially important for the youth so that they can have a future which embraces tourism in their daily lives. An environment education program should be established by local governments to provide the youth with opportunities to experience and learn about their natural heritage (Blackman etal. , 2004).

They further argue that the programme can be conducted through schools and synergies, which can be explored between schools and game reserves. Tourism developers must work with academic researchers, anthropologists, economists, politicians, socialists and environmental specialists to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of rural communities (Weaver, 2007). Keyser (2002) further postulates that they tourism developers should familiarise themselves with rural residents’ values, norms and attitudes, as well as the way in which those rural residents approach the idea of development, which leads to sustainable livelihood.

There are prerequisite for good relationship between host communities and tourism developers According to keyser (2002), Local businesses must seek and be granted of opportunities to of partnerships with established tourism private sector. This is a very good local developmental ideology since it enables local businesses to access resources and deal with challenges they cannot withstand on their own. In addition to that, it enables local business to be able to deal with technological challenges and stand for competition pressures from other well established organizations (Ivanovic etal. 2009). Therefore, partnership, merger, and conglomerisation are good towards assisting and involving local community businesses in the mainstreams of tourism development.

Tourism development must work towards enhancing positive benefits of tourism and minimize the negative impacts of tourism in order to gain the local support (Moscardo, 2008). Sigala and Leslie (2005) argues that conservation and preservation of local environment while proving direct benefits of tourism to host communities is a crucial way of drawing local residents in tourism development endeavours.

Tourism industry does not only get positive attitude by it makes locals willing to invest in their resources like culture and land as they form supply products in the industry. Awareness is the other fundamental route that can be adopted to integrate local communities in tourism development. Tsau and Lin (2006) claims that Most communities from less economically developed destinations do not know what tourism is and not even aware of what they can benefit from the industry.

Horner and Swarbrooke (2004) and Moscardo (2008) further strengthen that African communities lack basic education of awareness in the industry, hence, a drawback to development. Many authors and government publications like white paper put much emphasis that awareness but be a priority in order to get local residents directly involved in tourism development. Local residents must be aware of the whole scope of the industry, its side effects and how sustainable measures can be adopted for continuity.


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