Tourism Impacts on Local Communities around Coastal Zones: Issues of Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

Although tourism may dominate the economies of many destinations and the incomes of many individuals, it is seldom their only source of sustenance. This is true of most communities and is particularly the case for individuals in many marginal economies. In such situations, many people may not have a conventional job but may farm, fish, hunt, do odd jobs, migrate and send back remittances, obtain unemployment benefits and, generally, support themselves through multiple means. Furthermore, these means may vary with the seasons, and may involve a mix of activities that span the subsistence, barter and cash economies (Tao, Wall 2009). The introduction of tourism may result in conflict with such activities, displacing them or making them less viable, or it may fit into the existing situation as a complementary activity, contributing to economic diversification and forging positive linkages with existing forms of production. Of course, it may also do both at the same time. Acknowledgement of the importance of the links between tourism and other activities leads to the conclusion that tourism should be seen as a tool for development and not as an end in itself (McCool, Moisey 2001; Tao, Wall 2009).

It may be pertinent to ask whether and in what forms tourism might contribute to sustainable development. Such a perspective acknowledges that tourism is unlikely to be the sole user of resources and that a balance should be sought between tourism and other existing and potential activities. It also recognizes that tourism may not be necessary for sustainable development and that the reduction of tourism may be a legitimate goal in certain circumstances. Traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation in protected areas have been criticized to be ineffective and unethical due to externally imposed rules and regulations on local people, which have either resulted in their relocation or have infringed traditional rights to use local resources for subsistence livelihood (Wells, Brandon 1992; Heinen 1996; McNeely 2001; Lai, Nepal 2006). Conflicts between local people and park authorities are often the consequence of externally imposed park regulations and have been reported widely in conservation literature (Wells & Brandon 1993; Nepal, Weber 1995; Hackel 1999; Brandon 2001).

It is suggested that successful protected area management will not be achieved without the cooperation and support from local communities (Wells, Brandon 1993; Gurung 1995; Mehta, Heinen 2001) and that local communities must be empowered and involved in making important conservation decisions (Newmark, Hough 2000; Sofield 2003). To gain local support, the development and implementation of ecotourism and integrated conservation development projects (ICDPs) have been advocated throughout the world (Alpert 1996; Ceballos-Lascurain, 1996; Campbell 1999). According to Mowforth and Munt (2003), there is a vast body of work that demonstrates that local communities in Third World countries reap few benefits from tourism because they have little control over the ways in which the industry is developed, they cannot match the financial resources available to external investors, and their views are rarely heard. This paper examines the communities' degree of involvement in tourism planning, management and ownership, hence local control or community integration. The hypothesis is that a community is characterized as highly integrated in tourism decision-making would experience greater socioeconomic benefits over another community distinguished by a low level of integration. Yet, Lamu and Zanzibar provides, albeit in microcosm, an example of tourism management processes at work, in a context of urban conservation and renewal, processes that are essentially the same as those governing the transformation of far larger-scale and better-financed environments elsewhere.

Socio-Cultural Impacts of Tourism

Because of its nature, it becomes necessary that a rapidly growing tourism industry, as is the case in the Lamu and Zanzibar Old Towns should have its socio-cultural impact designed to achieve the ideals of sustainable development. …