Community Participation and Sustainable Development of Ecotourism: The Case of the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary Project in the Wa West District
In the past few decades, “ecotourism” has emerged as a much talked about topic that is frequently linked with “sustainable development”. This was identified as a strategy for enhancing the local people’s involvement in the management of such projects for their own benefits. This paper explores the link between community participation and sustainable use of the naturebased tourism resources of Wechiau. Critically, the study examines the environmental impacts of community participation in the sanctuary, ecotourism related conservation and development and the link between sustainable development, education and the distribution of benefits. To do effective analysis of the variables, qualitative and quantitative data was collected from the destination communities and stakeholder institutions by using Chi-Square and regression. The survey revealed that community participation has a positive correlation with biodiversity conservation and sustainable ecotourism but exhibit a negative relationship between sustainable ecotourism and benefit distribution. It was consequently concluded that sustainable development of the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary will be a reality through the adoption of “eco-development” approach and practices. These approach and practices enhance and promotes sustainable ecotourism, business tourism and modification of incentive structures of the Wechiau Hippo tourism industry.
Keywords: Community Participation, Ecotourism, Community-Based Ecotourism, Conservation, Sustainable Development