National Parks and Indigenous Land Management" Reshaping Tourism in Africa, Australia and Canada

By LeBlanc, Julie M. -A.; LeBlanc, Vivianne | Ethnologies, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

National Parks and Indigenous Land Management" Reshaping Tourism in Africa, Australia and Canada


LeBlanc, Julie M. -A., LeBlanc, Vivianne, Ethnologies


Tourists make decisions that impact the places they visit. Through an economic and development perspective, tourism has grown into a capital venture for most countries all while having the challenging task of operating under specific policies that shape visiting experiences. These experiences are critical in assessing how, by and for whom land is developed and managed. This article explores three continents as case studies: Eastern Africa's Maasai Mara, Australia's Uluru-Kata Tuta site and the Torngat Mountains National Reserve Park in Canada. The African and Australian examples are based on participant-observation fieldwork by the authors while the Torngat Mountains serves as an example of what could become the new National Reserve Park in Canada and its possible tourism impact forecasting. Critical analysis is particularly important in this article as we examine, compare and contrast the development approach and land management policies from the tourist's experiential perspective. The purpose of this article is to illustrate the various levels and politics of planning involved in the recognition, nationalization and touristification of heritage sites as well as the creation of identities based on local confines. More specifically, with the focus on tourist experience, we attempt to uncover the nature of theory and practice in indigenous, private and public land management for tourism exploitation.

Les touristes prennent des decisions qui influent sur les lieux qu'ils visitent. D'un point de vue economique et de developpement, le tourisme est devenu une formidable opportunite pour la plupart des pays, mais ceux-ci doivent faire face au defi de le developper a travers des politiques specifiques qui faconnent les experiences de visite. Ces experiences sont essentielles pour evaluer comment, par et pour qui le territoire est developpe et gere. Cet article explore trois etudes de cas a travers trois continents: le Maasai Mara en Afrique de l'Est, le site Uluru-Kata Tuta en Australie et les monts Torngat, parc national du Canada. Les exemples africains et australiens sont bases sur l'observation participante des auteures sur le terrain et le cas des monts Tomgat est un exemple de ce que pourrait devenir la nouvelle reserve du parc national du Canada et la prevision de son eventuel impact sur le tourisme. L'analyse critique est particulierement importante pour comparer l'approche du developpement et des politiques de gestion des terres du point de vue de l'experience du touriste. Le but de cet article est d'illustrer les differentes politiques de planification impliquees dans la reconnaissance, la nationalisation et la mise en tourisme de sites du patrimoine ainsi que la creation des identites fondees sur des territoires locaux. Plus precisement, en mettant l'accent sur l'experience touristique, nous tentons de decouvrir la nature de la theorie et de la pratique dans la gestion autochtone, privee et publique des territoires pour l'exploitation touristique.

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As part of a special course on sustainable development offered at the University of Ottawa, Vivianne LeBlanc spent a few weeks in Kenya in May of 2008 and was fascinated by the relationship between conservation, ecotourism and the "preservation" of indigenous culture and way of life (2). Essentially, Vivianne LeBlanc's experience was textbook: as part of a group, special safari tours were conformed to Western ideals of tourism; bartering for "traditional" souvenirs became second nature and the local indigenous population visited in the Maasai Mara seemed more concerned about the commercial aspects of tourism, such as currency exchange rates, than the experiential. From the development perspective, it is difficult to assess whether this model is sustainable environmentally, economically, socially, and culturally, among other considerations. It is not argued here that the indigenous Maasai did not respect their land to prevent a Western model of tourism from invading their cultural landscape; rather it is posited that there were possible negative impacts from Western civilization on the Indigenous peoples several decades and centuries ago that continue to inform conservation and tourism models today. …

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