Stewards of Paradise: Tools for Sustainable Tourism to Empower Indigenous and Traditional Communities

Author(s): Wafaa El-Osta
Published: 2015
Type: M.E.S. Papers/Theses

The major objective of my Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) research has been to identify, in a participatory approach the best strategies for the implementation of a sustainable tourism project. This was done in collaboration with the communities of the Corridor as the project it concerned with their region. This paper identifies challenges facing the local communities and hindering their aspirations. It also put forward the proposed project (Appendix A) as a road map to address those challenges and to build on opportunities leading to the production of the above-mentioned outcomes.

The following specific objectives are established as the guidelines of the research:
• to serve as a testament to the community needs and aspirations as expressed during the field research, specifically in group discussions;
• to elaborate and discuss the theories that informed this research project paper;
• to propose a road map for actions to be taken following the field research and the results of the research analysis;
• to identify prospective linkages and recruit potential partner(s) and stakeholders.

The following are the specific objectives of the project proposal presented in Appendix A of this paper:
• to serve as a means to empower the communities in the Corridor to articulate their preferences for specific types of tourism, as an alternative development plan for economic growth;
• to propose a preliminary plan of action with potential individual "project ideas owners";
• to serve as a discussion and working paper for development of a holistic approach to resolving issues of lack of coordination, in order to enhance collaboration between communities.

These objectives are derived from the research question as stated in the original proposal for my research:

"What strategies can be cultivated to motivate local communities to create an innovative tourism product that will benefit them beyond economic development?"
The outcome of my research was "the seed of a proposal for a sustainable tourism project that would help develop income-generating activities".