Change the world

Journal for Development and Leadership

Volume 1, Number 1


Local residents’ perceptions of community-based tourism (CBT) at Twyfelfontein Uibasen conservancy in Namibia
Auala, S.

Local communities in Namibia have few options for earning alternative income, apart from selling craftwork and from livestock farming. The main objective of this study was to create an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of the local community at Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy regarding community-based tourism (CBT). This would be the basis for developing strategies that could be used to influence these perceptions with the main goal of using CBT as a vehicle towards the improvement of local peoples’ livelihoods. Structures and institutions that impact on the direction of CBT development at Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy were also examined.

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed for data gathering. A survey was undertaken by means of 67 structured questionnaires distributed among local community members and key stakeholders – with a 100% return rate. Five in-depth interviews with stakeholders from government, NGOs, the private sector and financiers were also conducted.

Whilst the Namibian government recognizes tourism as a potential means of poverty alleviation, ownership of cultural heritage resources is not yet in the hands of locals. It is argued in the study that tourism development has been pursued more for economic purposes than for sustainable tourism goals. Whilst the conservancies were set up as a strategy for poverty alleviation, the study concludes that development outcomes have not yet filtered down to the needy. Therefore perceptions among the local community are negative towards CBT as a vehicle for socio-cultural and economic development.

It is recommended that in order for CBT development to be meaningful, local participation through ownership, capacity building and control should have precedence over purely economic issues. Currently, the biggest beneficiaries seem to be those who operate the private tourism sector and, to some degree, foreign investors.

Keywords: Community-based tourism, poverty alleviation, local participation, sustainable tourism development, local community