• Understanding the role of tourism in poverty reduction, the case of communities adjacent to Mikumi National Park in Tanzania

      Kalemo, Zacharia Revocatus (University of Bedfordshire, 2011-03)
      For over three decades tourism has been said to have the potential to accelerate economic growth that can guarantee significant development especially in developing countries. To some extent, the notion seems to be gripping ground at national level, as many developing countries, including Tanzania have begun recording a relative increase in national incomes as a result of recent boom of tourism industry in these countries. Nevertheless, the notion seems to be off-track and perhaps unrealistic from local perspective, since until now there is little empirical evidence to suggest how much tourism is reducing poverty at household level and individual level. Given this lack of research into the effects of tourism on poverty, the study therefore aimed to contribute to the knowledge base on the role of tourism in poverty reduction, by evaluating how tourism is perceived as agent for improving the livelihoods of poor in communities adjacent to Mikumi National Park (MINAPA) in Tanzania. To achieve this goal, the study developed three key research questions to guide this investigation: How is poverty understood and experienced by the communities adjacent to MINAPA? How is tourism understood as an agent for reducing poverty in these communities? Do barriers to participation of the poor in tourism exist and how could these be overcome? Since this study intended to ascertain data on understandings and lived experiences of poverty, and the perceptions about the interaction of tourism with poverty, the overarching stance for this study is therefore interpretivist, with emphasis on understanding the subjective meaning of lived experiences, rather than explaining the objective aspect of lived experience as in positivist paradigm. The research involved amalgamating phenomenology and ethnography coupled with various research methods in order to gain rich data on phenomena investigated. Themes were identified by using thematic analysis method. The findings of this study suggest that at the moment tourism is having insignificant contribution on poverty reduction in communities investigated in this study. However, most research participants perceived tourism as a positive initiative that can help to improve the livelihoods of the poor in their communities. But a number of barriers were acknowledged that hinder their participation in tourism, including, lack of involvement and empowerment of local communities in the management and sharing of benefits accrued through tourism in MINAPA. This study has therefore recommended for the renewed cooperation between all stakeholders in tourism, which is built on the real realm of transparency should poverty reduction through tourism turned from theory to reality. The contributions of this study to the tourism poverty reduction knowledge base include information on how tourism is perceived by the resource poor; enhanced knowledge with findings indicating tourism is not improving the livelihoods of the poor in communities investigated in this study; just to mention few.