Efficacy of Community Based Tourism Initiatives in Sustainable Tourism Development: A Case of Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary in Kwale County Kenya
Makau, Musila Paul
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Community based tourism is among the several alternatives to mass tourism that are considered to be more sustainable. The genesis and growth of Community Based Tourism Initiatives (CBTI) in the 1990s was based on their prospective ability to augment community support for wildlife conservation, while ensuring that local community participate and benefit from tourism development. However, a number of CBTIs in Kenya have failed to produce benefits substantial enough to meet community expectations. Hence, the need to interrogate if CBTIs have been effective in realising sustainable tourism. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of CBTIs in sustainable tourism development with particular interest in Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, Kwale County. The specific objectives were; to establish the level of community participation in tourism, investigate constraints to community participation and to determine community‟s attitude towards economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism development. The study adopted a descriptive survey design that allowed qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis. All (282) landowners of MES were targeted, while the ex-officio (5) and staff (19) were used as key informants. Stratified random sampling was used to establish the study sample (157) of the landowners, while all key informants were used in the study. The findings showed that community participation was from a low to a moderate extent (0.160=V=0.571; 0.000=P=0.038). Their major roles were to give consent on land utilization, share benefits, and provide views and opinions on nature of tourism development to be undertaken. However, they had no power to ensure that whatever had been agreed upon was implemented. Lack of coordination among stakeholders, financial resources, skills/knowledge, and low level of awareness on tourism issues were major constraints to participation. These constraints hindered community participation from a moderate to high extent (0.365=V=0.822; 0.017=P=0.042). Social cultural impacts were positively perceived, while economic and environmental impacts were negatively perceived. Key concerns were minimum economic benefits from tourism, crop raids by wildlife and environmental degradation. A positive significant relationship between socio-economic benefits and community participation was noted (R=0.575, P=0.000). Respondents had a negative attitude towards tourism due to its inability to provide the anticipated economic impacts; however, they had a positive attitude towards conservation and tourism development as a land use. A positive significant relationship was observed between landowners‟ attitudes and their involvement in tourism development(R=0.887, P=0.010). The study concludes that MES is maintaining an unsustainable status quo, hence tending towards “minimalistic sustainable tourism model”. The current model of CBTI is therefore not sustainable and needs to be reviewed. It is recommended that an alternative tourism development strategy be adopted which integrates the principles of sustainable tourism development particularly; participation, and more favourable socioeconomic and environmental outcomes, with emphasis on roles of stakeholders, funding, conservation and tourism product development in light of the emerging issues.