Ecotourism and community development: a case study of Olumirin Waterfall, Erin – Ijesha
Ecotourism, one of the fast expanding tourism markets receiving global attention, accounts for a large share of some countries’ Gross Domestic Product; contributes to the livelihoods of many people; as well as encourages community participation and development. This study assessed the contribution of ecotourism to the community development of the host community and her environs. The survey research design relied on primary data collected through the questionnaire instrument. Tourist survey, staff survey, local business sector survey and community members’ survey were used to determine tourists appreciation, sensitivity and participation; tourists patronage; business turnover and ecotourism-related development in the community respectively. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The survey showed that employment opportunities generated were mostly as business owners and staff on the tourist site. Over half of the respondents (fifty-five percent) and 36.67% accepted that tourist influx has a ‘good’ influence on trade and business in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha respectively. Sixty percent and 33.33% of respondents in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha respectively attributed the development of facilities/infrastructures to the ecotourism of Olumirin waterfall. Olumirin Waterfalls attracts high tourists’ visitation; which aids revenue generation from gate receipts as well as positively influences local trade and businesses. Contributions to the communities are however minimal; majorly in forms of small scale establishments within and outside the ecotourist destination and the few members of the community employed as members of staff. Improved development of the communities such as good road network and recreational facilities construction will increase tourist influx as well as the economic and social welfare benefits to the residents. Revenue sharing policies should also be incorporated into the management policies.
Keywords: Ecotourism, Community Development, Olumirin Waterfalls, Erin-Ijesha