Tourism Management

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Tourism is a key driver of development and economic growth in most countries. In spite of this, most governments have been forced to consider the effects of tourism on the local culture and on the environment as well. The sustainability of tourism has been put in the limelight with tourism specialists urging the replacement of unsustainable forms of tourism with more sustainable forms. It is in this regard that most governments are turning to community-based tourism as they try to raise revenue as well as create employment opportunities for the locals. Community-based tourism is the type of tourism in which tourism activities are handled by the local communities. It is based on the premise that residents who live around various tourist attraction sites are best suited in protecting them. It is sustainable because the local communities understand the environment well and are able to sell environment conservation messages to people who come touring these sites. The residents, in turn, earn income as entrepreneurs, service and produce providers, land managers, and employees. The community derives such benefits as a whole while the tourists achieve maximum satisfaction from their tours because of the added culture aspect as a result of their interaction with the locals. Unbridled and unchecked development of mass tourism has been observed to be not only responsible for social-cultural and environmental degradation, but also for less value added contribution to the Third world and Second world countries popularly known as the developing countries. Even the economic gains that are generated through tourism are not equitably distributed among various social groups in the host communities. It is even more disturbing that there exists an insignificant contact between the local communities and the tourists. Actually, even the little contact, which exists, is not for economic gains of the residents, but by default through sharing of the same recreation facilities such as roads, beach parks, and other common facilities. The well-being of the host communities have been shamefully and continuously ignored despite the fact that the substantial amount of the cost of providing the resources and the facilities that are enjoyed by the tourists came as a result of efforts by the local communities directly or indirectly (Buzinde, Manuel-Navarette, Kerstetter & Redclift 2010). Like many other forms of economic activity, tourism can deliver both positive and negative results in equal measure. Some of the problems that may result from tourism include loss of cultural heritage, ecological degradation, spread of diseases and virus, social unrest, and social dislocation. Host and tourists have, however, made more responsible tours and travels and urged to make cautious and prudent initiatives so as to curb the negative effects to a large extent through awareness and dissemination of knowledge about the negative effects of tourism and the related activities. Various forms of sustainable tourism include ecotourism, nature-based tourism, cultural tourism, and responsible tourism (Cooper, Fletcher, Fyall, Gilbert &Wanhill 2009). Sustainable aspects of tourism are considered in the long run and have become the bone of contention in the tourism industry. To maintain sustainability in tourism, maintaining ecological balance, well-being of the host communities, and maximising tourists’ satisfaction are seen as fundamental requirements towards the achievement of sustainable tourism development. Should the well-being of the community be overlooked, the sustainability of tourism hangs on the balance (Kalisch 2001). Tourism harbours great potential to transform local economies while preserving the threatened species that form the backbone to tourism. Governments have a major role to play if sustainable tourism is to be achieved. In addition to offering a stable economy, the government ought to ensure a business environment that is market friendly with proper regulation and oversight to make sure that social policies, safety and environmental concerns are adequately addressed. The government should also educate the local communities of the wealth that lies in their culture and various physical features around, so that they can conserve them. In places where community-based tourism is established, the government should ensure that the residents reap from their national and cultural heritage as well as the environment they have been conserving, so that they remain motivated to remain the most active stakeholders. Historically, tourism development commenced when economic development from industrial revolutions met the conditions of both supply and demand. In the 1970s, large-scale packaging of homogeneous holiday services and mass recreational tourism dominated global tourism. This trend was dubbed by mass tourism development. Substantial unsustainable components have been generated from this mass tourism from which several tourism development strategies resulted (Miller 2002). This brought to practice a plethora of terms such as culture tourism, adventure tourism, and soft tourism among others. These terms have been influenced by varied perspectives and subject disciplines as offered by scholars in the field of tourism. Tourism industry offers an alternative to develop and diversify regional economies in the Third world countries that are poverty ridden despite their harbouring some of the most unique attraction sites, unspoiled cultures, landscapes, flora and fauna, wholesome rural products, historical monuments as well as a calm and quiet lifestyle. According to Mitchell and Ashley, the tourism industry provides small scale and labour intensive production opportunities for the residents in the rural communities along with their farming or agricultural and related activities (2010). While giving them higher priorities to marginalised skills and resources, the tourism industry provides job opportunities for the village community. This, in turn, brings improved standards of living for the local communities by having them nurture the very sources of their income, mostly the environment they live in, as well as the values and the culture that they have fostered for generations. Community-Based Sustainable Tourism has emerged as a mutually beneficial form of tourism involving visitor-host interaction, facilitating a win-win situation among the stakeholders in a bid to maximise collectives as well as individual gains in a sustainable manner (Sharply and Telfer 2002). Tourism and related activities that are owned and managed by certain communities or community-private partnerships further enhance community-based tourism as a vehicle of utilising the fragile resources such as cultural and historical heritages, natural endowments in a prudent manner so as to improve the well-being of the concerned communities as well as the satisfaction of the tourists. Contrary to mass tourism, which is profit-centred, alternative tourism development approaches have attempted to minimise the adverse effects in this sector while maximising the host-visitor needs (Mowforth and Munt 2002). CBT enables tourists to discover wildlife and local habitats and respect and celebrate traditional wisdom, rituals, and cultures of the host communities who will be aware of the social and commercial value placed on their cultural and national heritage through tourism, which will in turn foster community-based conservation of such resources. The host community may opt to do a partnership with the private sector that will provide clients, capital, marketing, accommodation, and other expertise that is beyond them. The private partners may own a part of the tourism enterprise subject to conformity to the ideals of supporting community conservation and development (Mowforth and Munt 2009). Fierce competition is being occasioned for international tourism receipts, which are expected to total over 2 trillion US dollars by 2020 while tourists’ arrivals are expected to hit 1.6 billion. Countries can take an advantage of available tourists’ attractions to attract revenue from visitors. They can market and develop tourism whether they harbour historic or natural attractions, or a rural urban destination. Tourism generates revenue, creates employment, promotes economic independence, and attracts development capital. In spite of its relative importance to the economies of rural areas, tourism ought not to be considered as a way of alleviating the de-development of these areas. Traditional tourism has been dismissed by critics as seasonal and offering low-paying jobs, which do not provide sustainable job opportunities (Murphy & Murphy 2004). The tourism industry has been growing at a very high rate due to the preference by developing nations as a way of generating revenue. The Community-Based Sustainable Tourism is the best approach in the tourism sector mostly for developing countries. This is because of the factors that characterise these countries such as the following: the important role for the community on the principle of cost-benefits sharing; consultation in tourism-related planning and legislations involves the whole community; the community is fully involved in the setting up and the implementation of projects, hence the community will always have a stock in tourism projects being undertaken in their areas; if these communities are not the sole owners, the projects have private/public partnerships in which the residents are on a par with them; the projects available are ecologically sound and viable; there is a fair benefits and costs distribution among the parties involved; the institutional environment is well-developed and consolidated; and there exist transparency and accountability of all the activities. In short, the community-based sustainable tourism is expected to benefit the communities as it encourages them to develop ecologically viable tourism enterprises. For the community to benefit from these enterprises, incentives are created. This will go a long way in assisting in the conservation of natural resources as well as the wildlife. It utilises the capacity and skills of the members of the host communities while enhancing them, therefore improving their well-being by improving their levels of income. In the process, the community members’ norms, ethics, and social values are cushioned. Traditional dance, music, folklore, dance, and other sociocultural heritages are promoted through tourism development while enhancing and preserving them at the same time. Tourism development as such goes hand-in-hand with sociocultural heritage and the conservation of the environment. Many rural areas are searching for alternative economic activities for individual and collective development to replace former reliance on mining, agriculture, or forestry. Their reliance on agriculture has been thwarted by mechanisation, international influences and scarcity of resources. Sustainable tourism brings together the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental aspects of tourism (Reid 2003). According to the World Tourism Organisation, sustainable tourism is the development of a tourism product that meets the requirements and needs of the host regions and tourists while enhancing and protecting opportunities for the future. A connection has been established between commercial success and sustainability because of the reduced consumption of energy, minimised wastes, and water conservation, thus saving money and hiking the profits. Global priorities have been shifting over the decades. Climate change is currently viewed as a fundamental issue having major implications to tourism that requires the industry to curb the emission of greenhouse gases (Scott and Becken 2010). Projections have it that climate change will not lead to losses in demand for leisure tourism because of the variety offered in various tourist destinations around the world. Tourists can, therefore, shift from more favourable destinations, should they deem one as hostile. Implementation of environmentally sustainable tourism faces several challenges that include the costs of implementation, technical nature of the information forums, lack of industry and government support, and the labour-intensity of the certification process. Lack of awareness among major stakeholders in the tourism industry that they stand to benefit by reducing wastes, energy consumption, and cutting transport costs has greatly hampered the attainment of sustainable tourism. Such stakeholders lack awareness of the fact that they are not only making a positive contribution by reducing the impacts of climate change, but they can also increase their profits and save money. Most of the residents in the host communities, especially in the developing countries, are not fully aware of the need to conserve the environment. This works against sustainability since their ignorance drives them into destroying or failing to market resources that are unique and would form perfect sites for tourists around the world to come and see (Page & Connell 2009). Phobjikha valley in Bhutan is an example of how community-based sustainable tourism can be put into practice. Phobjikha is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for most tourists and national visitors. Maintenance and conservation of the ecological richness and biodiversity of the valley has been a major challenge. It has become vulnerable to anthropogenic interventions. This valley brings together the largest habitat for the globally threatened Black-necked planes, which form the biggest tourist attraction for the visitors in the valley. Conservation of these birds and their habitat has turned out to be a major challenge for conservation organisations due to relatively easy conservation rules as well as easy access. The local people play a huge role in such a scenario as far as the future of environmental conservation in the area is concerned. As such, the integration of the needs of the community with the conservation objectives has become crucial if the attempts at conservation are to succeed. Community-based sustainable tourism comes into play by offering livelihood choices, which are of extreme importance in the context of the current situation in which tourism is booming in the Phobjikha valley. Most of the benefits are however being reaped by tour companies that hail from outside the valley, leaving the local community without any benefits while the environment keeps on deteriorating. The local people depend on the cultivation of potatoes for their economic needs that generate income once per annum. The national tourism policy has barely brought any direct benefit to these residents (Telfer and Sharply 2008). Fixed tariffs characterise this policy. If community-based sustainable tourism is to be applied in this case, the local community will benefit from the resources around them while the environment will be conserved to sustain tourism for a longer period. At the present scenario, however, most of the tourism benefit is reaped by major tour companies from outside the valley, which hardly benefits the local economy or the environment. This sustainable form of tourism will also offer a chance to foster an environmentally responsible way for generating income among the local community (UNEP 2005). The Phobjika valley, therefore, serves as a model of a community-based sustainable tourism destination contributing to natural environment conservation, culture conservation, and protection of the crane habitat as well as contributing to the socio-economic benefits of the local communities in the Phobjika Valley. Often, tourism is considered as a better option since its development depends on the area’s cultural, ethnic, historic, geographic, and natural exceptionality. Rural areas offer a special appeal to tourists because of the charm associated with a rural environment, its history, distinct culture, and ethnic and geographic characteristics. Conclusion Community-based tourism is the type of tourism in which the communities that live around the tourist sites are the key stakeholders; hence, they manage the tourist activities being undertaken. This way, they can determine how their resources can be utilised in a manner that is environment-sensitive. As such, they benefit financially and directly from tourist activities taking place while ensuring that the tourists make the best of their tours. This ensures that both the locals and the tourists benefit maximally from the resources while conserving them, so that even the generations to come will benefit from these resources. The locals therefore are the managers and the major stakeholders of the resources and culture heritage that serve as the tourist attraction sites. The tourists, on the other hand, enjoy the culture and national heritage as well as the uniqueness of various features available in different communities around the world, making community tourism mutually beneficial and environmental friendly.