The Viability of Community Tourism in Least Developed Countries: The case of Zanzibar

Ussi, Miraji Ukuti (2012) The Viability of Community Tourism in Least Developed Countries: The case of Zanzibar. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Tourism is perceived as one of the world’s fastest growing service sectors and a major source of economic development and environmental and cultural conservation for many, if not all, developing countries. Within the context of sustainable development, community tourism is increasingly seen as an effective tool for engaging destination communities in the tourism development in the advanced countries, but it has failed to deliver in many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), such as Zanzibar. The concept has been developed and refined in the search for sustainable approaches to tourism development. However, its applicability to Zanzibar in particular seems not to have been considered in detail; the issue of whether community tourism can be effectively applied in Zanzibar remains uncertain. Consequently, there is a call for more research to determine the capitals that destination communities should acquire to implement community tourism. Hence, the objectives of this thesis are: (1) to conceptualize the theory of capitals as related to community tourism; (ii) to develop a conceptual capital assets model for community tourism; and (iii) to examine the general views of local communities toward the [proposed] capital asset model and to found out the appropriateness of the model for actualizing community tourism in Zanzibar.

Methods used for data collection of this research were document study, focus groups, interviews, participant observation and household survey (triangulation approach). While the first three methods (qualitative methods) were used for construction of the model, the household survey technique (quantitative method) was used to explore the appropriateness of a model in the context of Zanzibar. The research population includes government officials, private tourism organisations and local people who were involved in the research in different settings. The critical destination capitals according to the findings are informal social networks (informal social capital), political capital and human capital; the three destination capitals lead to the generation of innovation capital which serves as the lifeblood for sustainable community tourism development. Moreover, limited access to physical, financial, and human capital are key concerns that need to be addressed, especially in rural areas of Zanzibar, as this was found to be a significant constraint to the implementation of community tourism.

The research findings directly contest the extant body of literature reviewed in this thesis and have major implications for tourism development policies, signalling the need for adjustments at social, political and institutional levels. Following the household survey analysis, the central conclusion is that the developed conceptual model is a useful blueprint for sustainable community tourism development in Zanzibar; though further research opportunities are identified, especially is relation to the generalization of the conceptual model. The contribution of this research is to knowledge about the crucial destination community’s capital assets and their significance to community tourism development in Zanzibar. This understanding may bridge the gap between theories of community tourism and practice and may be adapted and applied in many developing countries, including broader perspectives of encouraging destination communities to take an active role in the tourism industry as developers rather than as wage earners.

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