Community-based Tourism in the Commonwealth of Dominica: A Livelihoods Perspective
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Community-based tourism (CBT) has become an important facet in the quest for sustainable tourism. CBT is a term that has been subjected to different interpretations in the academic literature. In the field, CBT continues to be supported as an approach to improve the livelihoods of local people in communities participating in tourism. With growing interest in the sustainable livelihoods approach to development, tourism researchers have begun to examine tourism as a livelihood strategy. However, there remain few case studies that have connected the sustainable livelihoods approach and tourism. More specifically, there is limited empirical evidence exploring community-based tourism as a livelihood strategy for rural communities. This research employed an exploratory mixed methods approach to investigate community-based tourism from a livelihoods perspective. The case of the Commonwealth of Dominica was examined to address the following objectives: i) to assess the approach to the development of community-based tourism on the island of Dominica; ii) to analyze residents’ perceptions of the impacts that tourism has on their community from a livelihoods perspective; and iii) to evaluate the degree of success (or failure) of community-based tourism development in Dominica. The research findings revealed that community-based tourism is a valued component of Dominica’s national tourism strategy. Since the early nineties, community involvement has been an implicit policy in the tourism development process. More recently, government-funded initiatives have provided assistance to communities across the island to develop, implement, and market community tourism products. Additionally, this research suggests that the livelihood asset pentagon presented in the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework for Tourism (Shen, Hughey, and Simmons, 2008) is an effective organizational tool for assessing the impact of tourism on communities. Future research should be directed at applying the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework for Tourism in more diverse contexts to ensure its validity and applicability. Furthermore, there is a need to develop a comprehensive Community-based Tourism Framework to assist in the monitoring and evaluation of community-based tourism projects in the field. The main conclusion drawn from this study is that the island of Dominica is on a successful path for developing community-based tourism and it has the potential to yield a number of ‘best practice’ scenarios for the Caribbean region and the globe a like.