Tourism and development : using tourism as a strategy for poverty reduction in Narok District, Kenya
This dissertation uses a livelihood analysis approach to examine the potential role of tourism as a strategy for poverty reduction. While many studies have examined the role of tourism in economic and local area development in developing countries, this research focuses on understanding the impact of tourism upon the livelihoods of poor people, in this case Narok in Kenya. The thesis first reviews the theoretical explanations and definitions of poverty within the discourse of development studies. The key argument of the thesis is that the continued macro economic focus for tourism development in developing countries is inappropriate for targeting poverty. The macro economic discourse assumes that the benefits of economic growth from tourism will trickle down through a series of economic multiplier processes to 'poorer' sections of the population. Yet, this research shows that poor people have different definitions of poverty from those that are conventionally used in macroeconomics. Poor people's definitions are based upon their own local circumstances of making a livelihood. It is argued that it is therefore necessary to understand the term 'poverty' as defined by the 'poor' in order to produce tourism strategies that are 'pro poor'. Using multiple methods and narratives of poverty experiences in the Narok District of Kenya, the study investigates the local perceptions of poverty amongst poor people that participate in tourism livelihood activities. Using a livelihood analysis, the study examines the economic, social and political factors that affect how poor are able to access and use tourism in their livelihoods. Subsequently, recommendations are made on the institutional structures that would enhance the livelihood opportunities for poor people in Narok. The research concludes that for tourism to maximize its contribution to poverty reduction, various policy and institutional adjustments are necessary in order to shift the economic benefits of tourism towards poor people. Such changes would not only secure the livelihoods of those already involved in tourism, but also expand the potential for poor people who are currently excluded from economic participation in tourism.