Re-thinking ecotourism and community development
the case of Ngomakurira Hills Project, Zimbabwe
Keywords:CBNRM, Community Livelihoods, Community Participation, Conservation, Ecotourism
Many ecotourism projects have been funded and undertaken in developing countries, but their success and actual benefits to the local communities are hardly evaluated. This study evaluates ecotourism as a community development strategy using the case study of Ngomakurira Hills Project in Goromonzi District, Zimbabwe. The evaluation was conducted using in-depth interviews carried out between January and March 2016 and the data were analysed using the thematic approach. The main findings of the study were that ecotourism contributed to the expansion and capacitation of small business enterprises which opened employment opportunities for local people. Despite the success registered by the ecotourism project, its benefits were not evenly distributed among the community members thereby orchestrating community polarization. For the project to contribute substantially to community development, the study recommends the development of a sustainable ecotourism model which could ensure the sustainability of the project as well as sustainable community support for the project by enhancing trans-generational preservation of natural and cultural resources, and equitable distribution of ecotourism benefits.
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