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Local residents' perceptions of community-based tourism : a survey of key stakeholders at Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy in Namibia
Auala, Sisco Lovisa Ndapanda
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Local communities in Namibia have few options for alternative income apart from selling crafts and livestock farming. The main objective of this study was to create an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of the local community at Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy regarding community based tourism (CBT), and to develop strategies that could be used to influence these perceptions with the main goal of using CBT as a vehicle towards the improvement of local peoples' livelihoods. The study also examined structures and institutions that impact the direction of CBT development at Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed for data gathering. A survey was undertaken by means of 67 structured questionnaires among local community members and key stakeholders, which resulted in a 100% return rate. Five in-depth interviews with stakeholders from government, NGOs, the private sector and financiers were also conducted. The findings reveal that local community measure development in line with socio-economic issues since 39% strongly disagreed that their needs are being met through CBT project implementation. They feel that the infrastructure for tourist is well developed for international standards, whilst conversely, community members live in squatter camps, burn candles and live in squalid conditions. Whilst the Namibian government has recognised tourism as a potential means of poverty alleviation, issues of ownership of cultural heritage resources are still not yet in the hands of locals. The study argues that tourism development has been pursued more for economic purposes than for sustainable tourism development. Whilst the conservancies were set up as a strategy for poverty alleviation, the study concludes that development has not yet filtered down to the needy. Therefore, perceptions among the local community are negative towards CBT as a vehicle for socio-cultural and economic development. This study recommends that in order for CBT development to be meaningful, local participation through ownership, capacity building and control should have precedence over pure economic issues. Currently, the biggest beneficiaries seem to be the private tourism sector and, to some degree, foreign investors. Further research should be conducted to evaluate the impact of community perceptions on the tourist in the long - run, since tourist arrival figures continue to increase at Twyfelfontein.