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Impacts of ecotourism on host communities in Kenya and Zanzibar - Case Study Example

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For many east African countries, tourism plays an important role in overall economic development of these countries. Tourism has both negative and positive effects on these countries. Ecotourism is a relatively new component of sustainable tourism. …
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Impacts of ecotourism on host communities in Kenya and Zanzibar
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Impacts of ecotourism on host communities in Kenya and Zanzibar Insert Insert Introduction For many east African countries, tourism plays an important role in overall economic development of these countries. Tourism has both negative and positive effects on these countries. Ecotourism is a relatively new component of sustainable tourism. Ecotourism has the ability to reduce the negative effects of conventional forms of tourism while at the same time improve the positive impacts of tourism. Ecotourism therefore, aims at minimizing the effects of tourism on the environment. It is therefore important to understand the effects of ecotourism on the host communities. The impacts of ecotourism on host communities can be positive or negative. Ecotourism aims at conserving the environment while at the same time enhances the wellbeing of people. Tourism results in increased economic development for host countries. Tourism brings more revenue and enhances local business for instance hotels, tour guides and transport. In Kenya, ecotourism result in economic benefits for the local people. However, ecotourism in Kenya still faces many challenges. In Zanzibar, ecotourism results in both social and economic benefits to the local communities. Ecotourism forces villagers and townspeople to sell their property to tourism investors. Tourism investors do not guarantee villagers any profit sharing or any other form of benefit. This increases poverty levels in Zanzibar. The negative effects of ecotourism on local communities are very high especially for communities near beaches and along the coast where the tourism business booms. The tourism business also resulted in competition for services in Zanzibar (Honey, 1999, p. 287). Competition for water is a major concern for local communities in Zanzibar. Tourism development also results in the displacement of people from their land to pave way for development of hotels and other tourism structures. In Zanzibar, there is less involvement of local people in tourism development projects. There are no government policies in Zanzibar that support local people. Host communities cannot engage in tourism development projects. In contrast, Kenya people take part in a tourism development project. In Kenya community-based project allows local communities to participate in tourism devilment projects. The private reserves in Kenya owned by the community allow people to engage in tourism development projects. Ecotourism project raises profits. The local communities also gain from these profits and revenues. Money raised from ecotourism goes back to the community. This means that the local communities play an important role in development and conservation of ecotourism. Most of the local people in Zanzibar work in the tourism industry as guides, taxi drivers, tour operators and owners of hotels. In this case, tourism offers employment to the local people. However, there are no government policies allowing local employees to earn social benefits of the tourism industry Another important effect of ecotourism on the local communities is its impact on local culture especially religion. The effects of ecotourism on religion are more in Zanzibar than in Kenya. In contrast to Kenya where there are many religions, Zanzibar is a predominantly Islamic nation. The influence of ecotourism on religion is a major concern in Zanzibar than Kenya. The concern is particularly for religious and government leaders. In Zanzibar, there are many discussions on the effects of tourism on the island’s dominant Islam culture. The focus is mainly on women dress codes. These leaders believe that tourism is introducing new dress codes in the island that are influencing the dressing of women. This change, according to the leaders is against Islamic culture. In contrast, Kenya does not have any issues regarding the influence of ecotourism to local cultures and religion. This might be because Kenya has many religions than Zanzibar where Islam dominates. The effect of tourism on people’s religion in Zanzibar was serious to the extent that some hoteliers developed rules for their guests. There are also specific beaches where tourists can sunbathe and another where they cannot (Honey, 1999, p. 289). This might have negative effects on the development of tourism in the island. Conclusion Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities and sustainability. This means that ecotourism efforts should promote environmental conservation while at the same time benefit the people. In most cases, ecotourism may present negative and positive effects on the local communities. One of the most important positive effects of ecotourism on the local communities is the increased economic benefits from tourism revenues. Ecotourism results in displacement of local people to pave way for tourism development. People also sell their property to tourism investors. However, the effects of ecotourism on local communities depend on the specific country. For instance, the effects of ecotourism on local communities may be different in Kenya and Zanzibar. Reference Honey, M. (1999). Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? Washington DC: Island Press. Read More
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