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An evaluation of responsible tourism practices in the Tanzanian tourism industry
This thesis concerns sustainable tourism development in Tanzania. It determines the extent to which Tanzanian tourism policies have incorporated sustainable frameworks and principles and also ascertains the extent to which tour operators in Tanzania have adopted sustainable tourism practices. Furthermore, it attempts to understand the constraints to tourism development for future successful planning of Tanzania as a favourable tourist destination in Africa. One of the key principles of sustainable tourism is that the local population is placed at the centre of tourism development interventions in terms of participation in decision-making and benefit sharing. Sustainable tourism principles also support that environmental regulations should be at the forefront of tourism’s industry advocates in order to mitigate environmental degradation and deterioration in the form of vegetation degradation, disruption of wildlife behaviour, pollution increase and general over utilisation of resources. However, Tanzanian tourism policies do not incorporate environmental and social concerns adequately, nor do policy makers develop these policies with a unifying strategic vision in mind. A key example is failure of the tourism policy to include consideration of social and cultural factors such as community conservation of natural resources. Tanzania’s tourism sector is growing fast, and its contribution to the economy’s growth is significant. As a result, it has attracted investment and policy initiatives to support its development. Key problem areas that have been identified throughout the thesis are: Low priority of sustainable policies - the emphasis is still on income generation for government. Sustainable policies are absent in the Integrated Tourism Master Plan (ITMP), Wildlife Policy and Hunting concessions; Lack of adequate feedback mechanisms; Apparent clash between sustainable policies and communities that are involved in subsistence farming on communal lands. Changing the system has huge socio- cultural impacts, while government shies away from this; Low level of community involvement in tourist activities and planning matters; Inadequate implementation and monitoring of strategies. The researcher, therefore, recommends that tourism planning should not only be a top down approach, but should involve all stakeholders in the tourism industry. Locals should be involved in tourism conservation decision making and the management of tourism policies, and should share in the financial proceeds of tourism. This will increase the level of conservation in tourism, as more people will be informed and be involved. The process of involvement of communities is crucial, as it decreases levels of illegal tourism activities on communal lands. The researcher believes that once locals are engaged in the planning of tourism related ventures, they will make an effort to conserve and preserve resources. Even though tourism policies in Tanzania make a note of sustainable practices (in terms of conservation and community involvement), it has only achieved these objectives on paper, and not enough has been done to ensure that these actions are carried out. It is also evident that development of tourism in Tanzania is a priority, while much focus has been placed on this owing to the economic value that it signifies. The main objective of Tanzania’s tourism policy is to promote low-density, high quality and high-priced tourism. One of the major problems with the government is that their concern for making money outweighs the need to implement sustainable tourism behaviours, therefore, leaving the environment and communities at a disadvantage, which eventually causes problems for destinations and the economy, at large.