Homestay Tourist Accommodation as A Tool For Socio-Economic Wellbeing of Rural Communities in Kenya: A Case of Taita Taveta County
The economic potential of tourism in less developed countries has been identified as an important contributing factor to global tourism growth. In most developing countries, tourism has been portrayed as a contributor to small scale enterprises thus directly uplifting the standards of living as well as a catalyst for community development. As an extended form of local people involvement in tourism, the homestays concept aims to facilitate households earn an income from tourism directly. Although homestays are purported to provide economic benefits to the local people, it is not clear whether the local people fully benefit from the venture. For instance majority of the people in Taita Taveta County still live below the poverty line despite the fact that the homestays concept has been in existence in the county since 1989 and the highest number of homestay accommodation is found in this region. This research therefore sought to put the homestays concept into perspective; identify motivational factors behind homestay operators‟ participation in the program; assess the socio-economic benefits of homestay accommodation to host families; examine factors which influence tourist choice of homestay; establish the most effective ways of positioning homestays and identify homestay operators‟ knowledge and skills in their participation in the program. This research adopted cross-sectional research design and made use of both primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected by use of researcher administered semi-structured questionnaires and an interview guide. Secondary data was gathered from books, newspaper articles, academic journals, internet and other relevant documents related to homestay. Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) sampling technique was used to select the sample for tourists visiting homestays where a total of 95 tourists formed the sample size. Census technique was used for the homestay operators hence all the 54 homestay operators in the county formed the sample size. The data collected were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Descriptive analysis, Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and correlation analysis were used to analyse data. The study revealed that, the major motivation for homestay operators‟ participation in the program was income (M=1.10, SD=0.300) and homestay accommodation is a significant means of boosting the socio-economic well-being of rural people (0.407=V=0.865, 0.000=P=0.004) but to benefit fully a few pertinent issues need to be addressed. For instance the local people need to be trained on the homestay program to equip them with the necessary basic knowledge and skills to run the program since this study revealed that the level of education had a statistically significant effect on their knowledge and skills to run the program and the income derived from the program F (21,118), P˂.0005; Wilk‟s λ= 0.261, partial η2 0.361). Ideally, a training curriculum tailored to meet the needs of the homestay operators should be developed. In addition, this study recommends that the homestay operators and the destination marketer (KTB), need an insight on the factors which influence tourist choice of homestays since this study revealed that there is a significant relationship between factors which influence tourist choice of homestays and how the homestays are positioned (0.368=r=0.870, P=0.000).