By Nothile Mbatha
Tourism is one of the strongest drivers of world trade and affluence while poverty alleviation is one of the greatest challenges. The world’s economy is under turbulent making it of importance to ensure that tourism plays a major role in the reduction of poverty models such as putting into place community based tourism (CBT).
One of the main objectives of tourism development is to encourage community participation in planning, development, management and implementation of tourism projects. Junior researcher at Durban University of Technology, Nduduzo Vincent Miya, recently conducted a study in community based tourism to examine and expose limitations of community participation.
The 23-year-old, adopted Inanda Township as his main focus area for his research where he examined typologies of community participation in community based tourism.
According to Miya, community based tourism is a form of tourism that is administered by the local community to emphasize the development of the community and allow local residents to have substantial involvement and control over its development.
Woza ENanda is an operational local administrated CBT project located in Inanda Township under Durban Tourism, a City’s tourism authority. The planners of Woza ENanda Tourism CBT projects including stakeholders measure their return on investment, when sponsoring a skill development initiative.
The case of Woza ENanda Tourism reflects the void between the CBT development projects, stakeholder and the community. The researcher indicates that the residents who are not directly involved in tourism face a greater demotion from the CBT project benefits.
Furthermore, Miya argues that the local community is often marginalized from decision making processes. The recent exclusion of Inanda Township Residents from the decision-making process hinders the sustainable development process.
Since CBT is about the improvement of local livelihood rather than profit maximization, there is inadequate support from the government as it promotes delineated economic growth. Hence well-established tourism businesses opt to enclave tourism ending up segregating tourism from Inanda Township emerging businesses.
According to Cohen, at least 47% of CBT plans adopt forms of tourism that do not fit well with existing human resources thus 55% of local people find it difficult to participate in tourism. There is inadequate tourism education and skills development for local communities to participate in key strategic positions.
In order for CBT projects to be a success, the following guidelines must be followed: it must be environmentally stable, run with the consent and involvement of local communities and give a fair share of profits back to the community. Following these guidelines would ensure fair economic growth, improve community skills and alleviate poverty.