Attitude of Domestic tourists to Ecotourism, in the Mount Cameroon National Park. Case study; Buea
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The study seeks to examine the Attitude of Domestic tourists to Ecotourism, case of Mount Cameroon National park. Specific objectives were to:
Identify the potential and ecotourism activities carried out in the Mount Cameroon National Park, examine the participation level of domestic tourists in ecotourism activities in the Mount Cameroon National park, examine the domestic tourist’s perception of ecotourism activities in the Mount Cameroon national park, and assess the impact of domestic tourist participation in ecotourism activities in mount Cameroon national park. To realize this study, both secondary and primary data were exploited using different techniques. 88 questionnaires were administered: eighty questionnaires were administered to the tourists while eight were administered on the workers of the park.
The Mount Cameroon National Park constitute of Mount Eelephants, Birds, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and 10 groups of monkeys including a variety of Guenons, Mangabeys, Mandrill and Olive baboons.
Today the park is having more than 200 plant species of which 50 these plants species are endemic to the southwest region. Despite its biological abundance and diversity, the park is currently facing some downward trends that affect the inflow of tourist in to the park. Findings revealed that 70.5% of the inhabitants agree that mountain race is not the only activity that takes place on the MCNP and some 9.0% have a neutral opinion.
Secondly, most of the inhabitants 46.2%agree that ecotourism in the MCNP contribute to the development of the park meanwhile another percent disagree and another 20.5% do not agree or disagree. The hypothesis of this research were tested using the OLS non-parametric test for equality of proportions by analyzing the different contributions and activities that takes place in the park, the results reveal that they activity preference significantly influence domestic tourist attitude toward ecotourism in the MCNP (P<0.05). The statistically significant OLS Results observed are indications that ecotourism activities practices in the MCNP has a significant effect on domestic tourist attitude. There are however certain problems that affect the sustainable development of the park. These involve poaching, farming beyond the red line or buffer zone, wildfire and logging. Hence, depriving the government of potential revenue to be generated from tourism. The sustainable livelihood model, pro-poor model and the sustainable development model with an emphasis on goal 3 in poverty alleviation was you.
To alleviate the situation and ensure the sustainability of the park, it is recommended that the five multi-sectoral management approaches should be applied and they include:
Product re-development, integrated site development, improvement in quality of service, development of a participatory management approach with stakeholders and a proactive approach to research and funding.
According to the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO), tourism takes place when people travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for no more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.
This industry has become very important in contemporary society, as it has performed remarkably well over the past few decades; substantially promoting growth in the world economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the future of the industry is promising. Reports of WTTC show that the total investment in the tourism industry has gradually increased over the years.
Ecotourism is a form of tourism that involves travelling to natural areas with the specific objectives of learning, admiring and enjoying nature and its wild plants and animals as well as local people’s cultural aspects including religious monuments, while conserving the natural and social environment, and improving the welfare of the local people (Anon., 2011).
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition of ecotourism is “Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local population”.
Worldwide, many countries and regions rich in biodiversity and poor in economy have been vigorously promoting ecotourism as a conservation tool in their protected areas since the 1990s (He et al. 2008).
According to Pierret, Fabio (2011), domestic tourism can be described as a tourism that involves residents of one country traveling within their own country. It does not involve the crossing of international borders at entry point.
There is a myth that most of the tourism in the world is international by nature however in reality, worldwide travel and tourism industry is principally dominated by domestic tourism (Cooper et al., 2008).
On the other hand, Mazimhaka (2007) and Scheyvens (2002) suggest that, if developing and least developed countries (LDCs) are searching for less harmful, alternative types of tourism development ought to persuade domestic tourism instead of multinational, high capital-intensive international tourism.
With similar tone, Mazimhaka (2007) argued that, notwithstanding having perceptible growing trend of international tourism in many developing countries, the development of domestic tourism is much more helpful for bringing stability in the volatile industry and sustainable development by bridging seasonality, creating job opportunities, and ensuring a stable service sector. Similarly, Cornellissen (2005, p. 183) stated that, “travel patterns of the domestic tourists do not imitate the extreme seasonal variation noticeable for the international market”
In Africa, domestic tourism is an undeveloped theme in African tourism scholarship since the planning and emotion of tourism in most African countries is biased towards international tourism. (Rassool witz 1996).
In South Africa, domestic tourism has grown by leaps and bounds are one of the success stories of domestic tourism in Africa. According to the first annual domestic tourism report in 2005, there were a total of 3.6.2 million trips made by domestic tourists in south Africa (Annual domestic tourism report south Africa tourism research unit, 2008) the tourists spend at 21.2 billion rands.
Studies on Rwanda show that domestic tourism already constitutes a large and growing industry in several parts of the developing world. (Ghimire, 2001). Across many countries of the developing world, travel for purposes of leisure, pilgrimage or business is no longer the exclusive prerogative of the upper classes.
Domestic tourist’s attitude towards tourism plays an important role for sustainable management of tourist’s destinations (SharmaandDyer,2009).Residents ‘beliefs and perceptions of tourism impacts impudence whether they enjoy living in the tourist destination area.
The awareness of residents’ attitude towards tourism development and the impacts can help planners and developers to identify real concerns and issues for appropriate policies and action to take place, optimizing the beneﬁts and minimizing the problems. (Andriotis and Vaughan, 2004).
Tourism planners must know what they should do to gain the support of local people for strategic tourism-related initiatives by understanding how the community perceives tourism. Wearing and Neil (2009) explained that individual perception of the environment has a profound inﬂuence on how it is experienced.
Both perceptual distortion and the expectations we bring to the environment affect the role we play in it.
They declared that the expectation of a tourist plays a large part in the way tourists behave. They also determine if the destination will satisfy the tourists’ needs. Harrill (2004) stated that one way to gain local support for tourism is to involve people in the community decision-making process.
How residents perceive the costs and beneﬁts of tourism is also linked with the people’s socio-demographic make-up and experience with tourism (Yang and Chen, 2008). Residents ‘or domestic tourist’s attitude towards tourism could also be affected by their education level and type of employment (Androitis & Vaughan, 2003).
Domestic tourist attitude is greatly affected by the tourism activities going on the ecotourism area that includes watching wildlife in natural habitat, cultural entertainment, driving, trekking and hiking, photographic safaris and hunting.
Beyond the boundaries of national parks and reserves, ecotourism on community lands can provide essential incentives for maintaining wildlife and other resources in unprotected areas2005).
The argument that has been propounded being that sustainable development implies moving towards intra-generational equity of access to resources and respect for environmental limits (Hunter and Green, 1995).
Cameroon is a signatory to many international, regional and sub-regional conventions regulating the use of forests, forest resources and nature protection. The following main legal texts regulate the use of forest resources in the national territory:
The Law 2011/008 of 06 May 2011 for orientation on Territorial management and sustainable development in Cameroon.
The law 94/01 of 20 January 1994 to lay down forestry, wildlife and fisheries regulations
The law 96/12 of 5 August 1996 on Environmental management
The decree 95/466/PM of 20 June 1995 to lay down the conditions for the implementation of wildlife regulations
The decree 95/531/PM of 23 August 1995, to determine the conditions of implementation of forestry regulations
Decree 95/413/PM of 20 June 1995, regulating fishery management
Decree 2009/2272/PM of 18 December 2009 on the classification of the Mt Cameroon National Park. In addition to these texts, there are a number of Ministerial decisions and administrative letters addressing specific questions of resource use in the national forest estate.
Cameroon is blessed with a variety of tourist attractions. With these attractions, Cameroon is generally regarded as a microcosm of Africa; hence the name “Africa in Miniature”, since it also cuts across all climatic and ecological zones of the continent, and it is known as a cultural melting pot (Saju, 2012). Despite all these, Cameroon’s tourism sector is still at its infancy, as the country receives only about300, 000 Domestic tourists per year therefore, she is not in the list of the major tourist’s destinations, which was established by the world Tourism Organization (Chanibele, 2010).
Unlike other African countries like Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia amongst others where tourism is emerging as a real industry, the sector has stalled in Cameroon and there is much work to be done to make the industry achieve its true potential (Sumelong, 2012). Ecotourism activities in and around the mount Cameroon national park are inadequate to attract enough domestic tourists in the pack due to some problems affecting the pack.
It is for this reason that this research came up with the topic ‘Attitude of domestic to ecotourism in mount Cameroon national park’.
The purpose for this study is to help the world in general; Africa and Cameroon in particular on how they can better sustainably manage protected areas and parks activities to improve on domestic tourists’ demand and some threats like deforestation, illegal hunting infrastructure development, and climate change.
For the past years, the global tourism industry has experienced many crises and disasters including terrorist attacks, political instability, economic recession, biosecurity and natural disasters (Ritchie, 2003). Crises can range from small-scale organizational issues ranging from staff illness, staff challenges/breakdowns, malevolence, and organizational misdeed to external factors such as natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, epidemics and fires) and terrorist incidents (Coombs, 1999).
In the case of the Mount Cameroon National Park, the park is facing a number of challenges that has made it difficult for its ecotourism practices to be at its peak, thereby making it difficult for domestic tourist and the local population to reap benefits from the park, as they should. Some of the threats identified are largely because of the inability of the management to make the local population a part of the park’s activities. The link everything to the mountain
As a result, the local populations around the Park, still engage in activities that are endangering the park’s wildlife and flora species’ some of these activities include;
Illegal poaching in and around the park; the rampant and high rate of illegal hunting for meat and hide in the park has greatly reduced the population of animal species such as elephants, gorillas, monkeys, and different bird species such as parrots, and this has gone a long way to reducing the attractiveness of the park to tourists.
The illegal hunting activities taking place in the park is because of the dependence of local population on the park for livelihood. This has negatively affected the park and has made the animals to become endangered.
Land clearance for subsistence agriculture; besides poaching, the local population is involved in agricultural activities in and around the park.
They cut down trees; clear the forest and burn grasses that have gone a long way to destroying the habitats of some of the animals in the park.
It has also led to the destruction of medicinal tree species in the park such as Prumes Africana, which is an evergreen hardwood tree that contains active substances for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Because of these agricultural practices, the reduction in the animal species and tree species such as the Prunus Africana is alarming.
The main reason why the local population is involved in activities such as; poaching, illegal, logging, and subsistence agriculture in the park which turns to have negative effects on the animal and tree species in the park is because of the high rate of unemployment in this region which pushes the people to continuously fall back to the park for a source of livelihood.
Because of these activities, the park is continuously being less attractive to tourists who used to engage in travel to enjoy the beautiful nature of the park. In addition, still because of unemployment, some of the locals have engaged themselves in activities such as scamming, theft, and prostitution.
This has created a negative image of the region in the minds of tourists resulting in a decrease in the number of tourists who visit the park.
The current crisis in the North West and South West regions of the country has brought about a lot of insecurity in these regions and hence a drastic fall in the number of tourists visits in the park.
This is because of the crisis; many businesses have shut down bringing an increase in the unemployment rate. As such, many have turned to be involved in illegal activities leading to a massive increase in the risk of kidnapping, theft and even murder for money.
Therefore, many people are discouraged from travelling to these parts of the country; most domestic tourist have passive attitude in relation to their visits to the park. They are more interested in visiting site like the 50th anniversary monument, stadia and other leisure centers, like bars within the Buea municipality. It is on these bases that the attitude of the inhabitant toward ecotourism is questionable as most of them are rather passive and non-participatory.
The research questions developed for the study are;
What facilities and resources are offered by the park and what does domestic tourist do with them?
What is the participation level of domestic tourists in ecotourism activities in the mount Cameroon national park?
What is the perception of domestic tourists in ecotourism activities in Mount Cameroon National Park?
What are the problems hindering domestic tourist participation in ecotourism activities in mount Cameroon national park and how can the problems be solve?
1.4 General Research Objective
The general objective of the study is to examine the attitude of domestic tourists in ecotourism development in the Mount Cameroun National Park
1.4.2 Specific Research Objectives
- To identify the potential and ecotourism activities carried out in the Mount Cameroon National Park.
- To examine the participation level of domestic tourists in ecotourism activities in the Mount Cameroon National park.
- To examine the domestic tourist’s perception of ecotourism activities in the Mount Cameroon national park.
- To assess the impact of domestic tourist participation in ecotourism activities in mount Cameroon national park