Towards Creating Sustainable Ecotourism Interventions: Practical Lessons from Mesomagoro, Ghana
Ecotourism has, over the past three decades, been employed globally as a tool to secure a balance between the need for environmental preservation and the sustenance of the communities which depend directly on it. Consequently, the trend has been to designate natural resources as Protected Areas, limit access to them and regulate their use. While this approach has been successful in protecting the ecological integrity of the said spaces, the same cannot be said for the livelihoods of persons living in such areas. Consequently, the literature is almost unanimous with the verdict that ecotourism has not worked in the African context resulting in deep discontent which tends to be expressed in varying ways among the host communities. However, one notable exception to this trend can be found in Mesomagoro, a small community in Ghana that still views ecotourism relatively positively after 20 years of hosting an intervention. Using the Sustainable Livelihoods Concept and a qualitative approach, this study sought to understand the reasons that could account for ecotourism’s success in Mesomagoro. It employs the Purposive Sampling Technique and uses In-depth Interview Schedules and Focus Group Discussions to elicit the relevant information. It was found that the sustainability of the intervention and the subsequent widely positive views of the community are primarily attributable to the fact that the project was designed to both integrate tourism into the existing livelihoods and skill sets and also to enhance their adaptive capabilities. It is recommended that ecotourism interventions in Africa should be designed to understand the local context and integrate programmes into existing livelihoods and not the other way round.
Keywords: Tourism, Development, Livelihoods, Assets, Adaptive Capabilities
© 2018 The authors.
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