Community-based tourism is whereby residents of local areas, especially economically marginalized, poor and rural lead in inviting tourists to come to their areas. They accommodate the tourists at night. Residents are privileged to get income as they play the roles of produce providers, service providers, entrepreneurs and land managers. In addition, they also serve as employees and offer the vital services to the tourists. The income provided by the tourists is then used for supporting projects that are beneficial to the whole of the communities (Beeton, 2006). Community-based tourism gives the tourists an opportunity to make discoveries on wildlife and local habitats. It is equally possible for them to respect rituals and cultures of the different communities. Community-based tourism enables communities to take note of social and commercial values in their cultural and natural heritage. This is the way to go when it comes to fostering conservation fronted by the communities. Facilities and accommodation provided at community-based facilities are even attractive for foreign tourists although only for tourists who want to experience the rural life that is very simple (Duim et al, 2014). The paper analyzes community based tourism in Uganda and Tanzania. It examines the case study of Buhoma–Mukono, a village in Uganda and Kururumu in Tanzania. Community-based tourism is available in rural areas and it is geared towards improving the lives of the communities. The case studies relied upon here are those of Uganda and Tanzania.
Success and Failures of Community-based Tourism
In both Kururumu and Buhoma –Mukono where community-based tourism is widely practiced, it has had a lot of success that is worth noting. In many cases, it has been able to resolve disputes between the conservation needs of the protected areas and the livelihoods of the communities in the two tourism camps. This has reduced the susceptibility of the communities. Community-based tourism centers, for example Buhoma–Mukono, are strategically located and so it is possible to have a direct access to the market. Another success is its easy access to the internet that allows the community to confirm the tourists who have made their bookings as well as inform them about the services that it offers. Many of the community-based tourist centers are very competitive in nature and that is the reason as to why they have survived the stiff competition from the big lodges that are very close to them (Beeton, 2006). Buhoma –Mukono’s success depends on its ability to integrate well with non-tourism and tourism interventions. The non-tourism interventions include agricultural programs for development and education services. The arrangement of Buhoma –Mukono displays the importance of institutional pre-conditions that are very sound and realistic. The pre-conditions have resulted in positive effects on the policies that the Buhoma-Mukono has put in place. In a snapshot, the success of Buhoma –Mukono is summed by improving the capital assets of the people. It has created several job opportunities for the people, improved the incomes of the people and their general wellbeing. The success is also seen in terms of getting market for products produced by the locals as is the case in Kururumu. Furthermore, micro finance institutions have been established and they have given the youth and the women the credit for starting businesses. It has also mobilized individuals so that they work as groups for development purposes. For instance, Batwa Association for Development and Buhoma-Bwindi Women Development Club has demonstrated this. The other successes of community-based tourism in Buhoma –Mukono and Kururumu include revitalizing cultural performances, local traditions, and cultural norms. The communities from the two countries have been able to develop networks with the diaspora community via tourism. Local manufacturing industries have been boosted, for instance, communities in Uganda have benefited from the maize mill that processes groundnuts, millet, and maize. Roads leading to the tourist centers in the villages have been improved. Agricultural production has also been facilitated. Success has also been seen in terms of training opportunities for communities, for example, handcraft making, business management, and drama. Well performing students have benefited from bursaries and some natural resources like firewood, medicinal plants, honey, and mushroom which are not over exploited.
The failures of community-based tourism with Kururumu in Tanzania and Buhoma –Mukono in Uganda as case studies include promoting promiscuity. Many young girls who are supposed to go to school have dropped out of schools because of the lucrative prostitution business promoted by the tourists. Some have also been assaulted sexually. With the tourism in communities, moral decadence has seriously increased. Many of the local communities would like to emulate the western values which may not be in tandem with the local cultural practices. The prices of commodities in communities are known to rise because there is low supply even when the demand is high (Uysal & Perdue, 2012). This makes it hard for people to live cheap and affordable lives. The other failure is in terms of environmental pollution whereby the tourists just throw solid wastes within the conservancies and the communities that they tour. The solid wastes are not good for the environment and the living organisms. They have also failed in providing sufficient employment opportunities for the communities where they operate.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Community-based Tourism
Community-based tourism has got a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages. Some of the notable advantages include giving the members of the community the power to make decisions on issues that affect them at the community level (Duim et al, 2014). Many people from the communities have also been able to get employment opportunities from the conservancies in the communities. Many infrastructural facilities have been developed because of community-based tourism for example electricity, internet, telecommunications, water, and roads. There are also superstructure developments that have developed in communities with conservancies and natural attraction sites. Communities have also succeeded in preserving their cultural practices, developed health facilities, benefited from corporate social responsibility services, and earned foreign exchange. The disadvantages of community-based tourism include destruction of cultural practices as the cultures of communities are infiltrated by foreign cultures. Community-based tourism also destroys the environment because solid waste disposals are made all over and this is doing the environment a great harm (Zeppel, 2006).It is not possible for the government to get tax from community-based tourism initiatives. This limits the abilities of the governments to offer services that are needed by the citizens who have elected the governments. Community-based tourism provides marginal employment, gives low benefits and promotes illegal economic activities, for example, money laundering and much more. The disadvantages are unrealistic expectations; elites controlling lands, negative lifestyles, concentrated development, and seasonal employment (Budruk & Phillips, 2011).Community-based tourism are also the reason why there are cases of moral decadence in the society. It is also responsible for the rising criminal levels because people emulate bad characters.
- How can community-based tourism be improved in Buhoma –Mukono and Kirurumu?
- How are the performances of Buhoma –Mukono and Kirurumu community-based tourism?
- What are the impediments in the success of Buhoma –Mukono and Kirurumu case studies?
Response to the Questions
The sustainability of the two cases as mentioned and community-based tourism in general is based on how well they are able to put in place interventions and conservation strategies. The community-based tourism cannot exist without conservation efforts being improved (Duim et al, 2014). Many development interventions must also be put in place so that at the end of the day it becomes possible for community-based tourism to succeed. It is also important to build institutional pre-conditions that are very strong. The conditions are supposed to fit in every tourism enterprise so that it makes it easy to operate on acceptable tourism standards. If the aforementioned are done, community-based tourism would be sustained. The two case studies have had a lot of success in the communities where they serve the people (Spenceley, 2008). Many people have been able to get jobs, trainings, and income. Infrastructure has been developed, schools built, income generated and market for local products found (Nhem et al, 2016). They have also been able to preserve the cultural practices of the people and health facilities developed. These are just but a few examples of areas of success of the two case studies. Many people have been able to get income which they, in turn, use to buy goods and services necessary for their survival. The unity brought about by the two case studies cannot be ignored in any way whatsoever as it has enabled people to initiate development projects together. The successes can be used as a benchmark in proving that, indeed, the two cases are beneficial to the communities. Despite the successes pointed out in this paragraph, there are also impediments that bar the success of the two case studies. Environmental concerns emanating from pollution have made it hard for community-based tourism to prosper in the aforementioned case studies. Community-based tourism results in the destruction of the environment which is not advisable (Beeton, 2006).The other impediment is also the disapproval by communities who feel that community-based tourism causes moral decadence that is evident in sexual immorality. The other notable impediment is the inability to have enough job opportunities for the members of the communities. The impediments have made it hard to for the two case studies to have increased levels of success. All in all, there is still room for the two cases to improve if they try to minimize the effects that the impediments have on them.
The two case studies can be confirmed to have succeeded or failed by going through a set of criteria. Because the two have got common points, the success criteria for the two are almost the same. If they meet the conditions on sustainability criteria then they will have higher chances of expanding and meeting the diverse needs of the communities where they operate. The sustainability criteria of community-based tourism are based on the following outlined criteria. There is community participation whereby if people make decisions then there is a success otherwise there is a failure (Duim et al, 2014). The second point is local ownership which was evident in the two cases otherwise they would have failed terribly. The other success criteria that cannot be taken for granted is collective responsibility and local innovation (Dittmann, 2008). The locals must have the opportunity to come up with services and goods that they feel are suitable and if they are denied such an opportunity then the community-based tourism projects are headed for failure. Each and every person in Buhoma –Mukono or Kirurumi has got a role to play in community-based tourism otherwise the two cases would have not been able to attain the level of success that they have been able to. The other sustainability criteria shared by the two cases include sharing resources. This makes it possible to meet the costs of operating or running the community-based tourism projects. If the members share the cost of running community-based tourism, they are also supposed to own the benefits otherwise there will be a revolt against community-based tourism (Aslam et al, 2016). The other important factors that have to be put into consideration include proper leadership that is able to unite the people and drive the agenda of the community-based tourism. Community-based tourism is gauged by its ability to attain authenticity and how well it can partner with the outside world. This is because community-based tourism does not exist in isolation. It is also important to look at how community-based tourism is distinct from the others or what makes it very unique (Moscardo, 2008). The above criteria were used for the case studies from Buhoma –Mukono and Kirurumi and if they are put into consideration and the communities stick to them, success is the only that is possible otherwise failure is automatic.
In conclusion, community-based tourism has several benefits to the communities. It has led to the employment of many people, generation of income, infrastructural development, and foreign exchange. It is also possible to understand that community-based tourism promotes local cultures and helps in the development of institutions like schools and health facilities which are of great benefit to the people. As a result of community-based tourism, it is possible to improve conservation efforts in the community. The other area where community-based tourism has played an important role is finding market for products that are produced by the community. Many projects have also been developed by communities that have been united by community-based tourism. This has even been made easy because communities have got the ability to borrow loans from financial institutions thereby making their lives better. The benefits of community-based tourism outweigh the disadvantages and this is the reason as to why it should be supported. However, there are challenges associated with community-based tourism that should be dealt with. The challenges include environmental pollution, moral decadence, sexual immorality as well as the inability to provide enough employment opportunities to the local communities who have since raised their concerns. The successfulness of community-based tourism depends on the levels of participation in decision making, local ownership, local innovation and collective responsibility. Other factors include sharing resources, sharing benefits, proper leadership attaining authenticity, outside partnership, and achieving distinction. If the factors are not adhered to, it is very hard for a community-based tourism project to succeed. The paper, therefore, highlighted the positive and negative aspects of community-based tourism, the challenges involved, how to sustain community-based tourism and the criteria to gauge sustainability.
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