Term Paper: Pro-Poor Tourism: Association With Development

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[. . .] It is noted that pro-poor tourism net benefits to poor communities extend beyond economic benefits, as they cut across environmental, social, and cultural benefits (Spenceley, Habyalimana, Tusabe, & Mariza, 2010). This is because pro-poor tourism in any community or nation facilitates rapid diversification of tourism products (Torres & Janet, 2004). Communities are driven to find tourist interests, an in return tourists demand economic, and cultural, social, and environmental goods from the community (Akyeampong, 2011). Therefore, pro-poor tourism is a flexible and alternative form of creating sustainability, responsibility, and ecological emphasis over the environment, socio-cultural, and economic elements of a community (Torres & Janet, 2004). This is because tourism calls for more sustainable management of natural resources and the environment as well as stimulating the development of human and social capital. In this manner, pro-poor tourism ends up being sustainable tourism. This is because it promotes social, economic, aesthetic, and environmental development, while trying to maintain cultural integrity, life support systems, and ecological and biological diversity. Pro-poor tourism efforts must link poverty, development, and environment, and create cooperation between indigenous, local communities, and major groups.

However, pro-poor tourism does present negative benefits to nations and local communities. According to Leclercq & Buchner (2011), the tourism sector is volatile, vulnerable, and highly competitive as risks that affect the sector include natural disasters and political instability. These factors cause a reduction or complete loss of the number of tourists to a nation and community, causing poor communities not to automatically benefit. Pro-poor tourism has created opportunities and barriers for local communities in Lang Co a town to the central east coast of Vietnam. The industry has led to the supply and use of locally produced products. However, the study by Redman (2009) finds that there are many negative net benefits of pro-poor tourism to poor and local communities, as seen in Lang Co, Vietnam.

In the Lang Co region, the poor are often limited in their capability to participate in the tourism industry as major or government agencies and investors. This is because the residents of the area are poor and lack access to credit or loans, lack or have very low education and training opportunities creating ignorance, and lack of knowledge of how to access tourism opportunities (Redman, 2009). The poor also face serious challenges in creating new and attractive interests for tourists since the natural resource base is declining (Ashley & Haysom, 2006). They also lack awareness and participating in local government and non-government planning for tourism industry thereby being left on the sidelines of policy and decision-making and implementation (Redman, 2009). Overall, the poor communities as seen in Lang Co miss pro-poor tourism opportunities since the tourism industry is largely driven and focused on large and high infrastructure development types. This in most cases conflicts with the principles of pro-poor tourism and the ability or skills of the community at the local level.

Pro-poor tourism assists communities if authorities increase and promote participation of the poor in planning and decision making of tourism at the local government level. Participation involves the planning and assessing the positive and negative impact of tourism on the environment and society (Choudhury & Goswami, 2012). This entails the discussion with the locals over the loss of land, coastal areas, social disruption, and other resources by the creation of tourism centers. The need for community participation in pro-poor tourism efforts arises from the fact that authorities need to assist in eliminating barriers to community participation (Muhanna, 2007). Barriers to community participation are realized through debates with local authorities to identify areas of opportunities and obstructions for the locals.

Studies on pro-poor tourism identify the main barriers to community participation include lack of organizational strength, incompatibility of tourism with local existing livelihood strategies (Choudhury & Goswami, 2012). They are also limited in participation from factors like red tape, and regulations, lack of gains from institutional and government planning, social constraints and gender norms, and lack of land ownership thereby a lack of "say" (Gossling et al., 2004). Poor communities also lack linkage with tourism sector from a poor connection between informal and formal sectors or local suppliers, inappropriateness of the tourism market, lack of a pro-active government that can support and champion for poor communities.

Communities participate in pro-poor tourism activities through strategies set by governments, local government, and non-governmental institutions. These strategies unlock pro-poor tourism opportunities for poor communities instead on focusing on expansion of the tourism industry (McIntyre, 2011a). The poor and local communities can participate and benefit from pro-poor tourism through three main activities (Gossling et al., 2004). These are the expansion of employment and business opportunities, and provision of training to take up these opportunities and spread income to the community beyond individual earnings. Thirdly, this is by addressing the negative environmental and social impact of tourism to local communities. This entails participation of local communities in debates and decision-making forums on social and environmental conservations despite the exposure to tourism (McIntyre, 2011a). Often, the negative impact of tourism to local communities is indicated in terms of loss of access to prime land, social disruption and exploitation (Muhanna, 2007). Allowing local communities participate in the planning and policy process of pro-poor tourism removes some of the barriers to their participation and reduces the negative impact of tourism. This is possible if key players encourage local communities to collaborate with private organizations to develop new tourism products and participate in decision-making.

To increase local community participation in pro-poor tourism activities, there is need for changes in government and corporate practice, especially in developing nations. This calls for governments to avoid presenting tourism as a unique and privileged sector, and instead integrate tourism in mainstream pro-poor growth debates especially at the local community level (Muhanna, 2007). Local authorities, tourism agencies, governments, and companies need to engage in practical action that will increase the linkage between poor people and the tourism sector. This also requires the finding of alternative product and service developments in collaboration with local communities to promote pro-poor tourism. The aim is to prevent government and tourism agencies from limiting tourism to traditional eco-tourism, community tourism, and corporate social responsibility repertoires (McIntyre, 2011b). If pro-poor tourism is to involve the participation of local communities and assist in poverty eradication, there must be linkage between tourism and diverse local activities.

Pro-poor tourism is promoting sustainability in local and remote areas, as well as in developing nations. According to McIntyre, (2011b) tourism promotes sustainable development projects through the promotion of special interest segments like cultural, adventure, and nature-based tourism. These penetrate traditional tourism markets, call for greater community participation, and greater environmental and social-cultural conservation. The advantage of emerging tourism trends is the ability to encourage growth in ecotourism, demand for authentic and off -- the beat track cultural experiences from local communities (McIntyre, 2011b). Pro-poor tourism is encouraging tourists to travel to areas with substance of the local communities and the environment. According to the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) reports, ecotourism is the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry, and is seen as a great motivator for pro-poor tourism. Through ecotourism activities, pro-poor tourism is encouraging communities to develop and use economic, social, and aesthetic resources sustainably and efficiently. For this reason, pro-poor tourism is envisioned as sustainable solution to achieving economic development, poverty alleviation, and local development, while conserving environmental and social-cultural resources.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the research finds that the interaction of tourists with marginalized and poor population groups in developing nations is widely researched. There is evidence that pro-poor tourism efforts are on the increase, as the tourism sector in incorporated into local and mainstream developmental efforts. Of interest is the ability of authorities to increase the participation of these marginalized groups in tourism activities. In the examples identified like Cape Verde and Lang Co, Vietnam, it is evident that pro-poor tourism activities have greater positive effects than negative effects. Tourism activities at the community level promote infrastructure development like roads, electricity and power, telecommunication, water, and drainage facilities. It also promotes the improvement and development of social amenities like waste disposal and management, healthcare provision, and security. Moreover, tourism activities in local and remote areas encourage the conservation and protection of social, cultural, and environmental heritage.

References

Akyeampong, O. (2011). Pro-poor tourism: residents' expectations, experiences, and perceptions in the Kakum National Park Area of Ghana. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(2), 197-213.

Ashley, C., & Haysom, G. (2006). From philanthropy to a different way of doing business: strategies and challenges in integrating pro-poor approaches into tourism business. Development Southern Africa, 23(2), 265-280.

Choudhury, B., & Goswami, C. (2012). Community participation in minimizing leakage: A case study in manas national park. International Journal of Marketing and Technology, 2(2), 133-147.

Gossling, S., Schumacher, K., Morelle, M., Berger, R., & Heck, N. (2004). Tourism and street children in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Tourism and Hospitality… [END OF PREVIEW]

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