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This study assess the recreational behaviour of university students and implication of tourism development in Buea. The target populations for this research are the top management, employees, and University students in Buea Municipality. The researcher targeted the population from the Buea municipality since this is the municipality where there are recreational facilities/ activities are situated. This study made use of purposive sampling to select management staff and students of university to these   recreational sites. In selecting the students and management staff these recreational facilities are convenient or accidental sampling technique was used. To realise the study, both secondary and primary data were collected using different techniques.

Questionnaires as well as an interview guides were used as means of data-collection. The questionnaire was administered to 120 university students and 09 workers of the recreational site of management staff. Interview was carried out with some workers in these sites. Quantitative data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 21.0

 The qualitative data was analyzed using thematic content analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were done in a clear and logical manner. And the results were presented in the form of percentages and bar chats.

Descriptive and inferential statistics were then performed in SPSS to analyse the processed data. Descriptive statistics involved the use of frequency tables, percentages and graphical presentation of results in bar charts. The Mean (M) (Measure of Central Tendency) was equally used to determine the average score for the likert-scale questions while the Standard Deviation (SD) (Measure of Dispersion) was used to assess the variation of respondents from the mean score.

All inferential statistical results have been presented at 95% Confidence Interval or the 0.05% Level of Significance implying that were P Values (Probabilistic Values) were less than or within 0.05 (P,0.05), the results were statistically significant and were P values were >0.05 exceeding the margin of error, the results were statistically insignificant.  Certain recommendations were made to various tourism stakeholders and they include; Effectively and efficiently manage resources, Assist the LBG and LWC with funds to help boast the rehabilitation strategies, The community should be very welcoming to tourists amongst others Finally, the researcher made propositions for further study.




1.1. Introduction

In addition to Chapter One, this work is organized into five chapters. Chapter One presents the plan for the; its major objectives and how relevance findings may be within the geographical and content limits sets.

Chapter Two shall focus on the literature review and theoretical framework. This will focus on the review of major concepts of variables of the study, theories deemed appropriate to provide explanations of the concepts and targeted relationships among variables. This chapter will end with empirical review of literature that will focus on the works of other researchers who have been interested in the same problem or variables in other places.

Chapter three is the research methodology. The major points of discussion here are: area of study, target population, sample size and sampling techniques, data collection instruments and procedures, and data processing and analysis procedure.

Chapter four is data analysis and presentation of findings and results according to objectives and answering of research questions. Chapter five wraps up the work by presenting a discussion if findings, recommendations and suggestions for further research. 

1.2. Background of the study

Involvement of young people in outdoor recreational activities in tourist areas aims at increasing their awareness and participation by experimenting different forms of activity in different environments (Fidgeon, 2010). Stimulating the young generation’s interest in actively participating in recreational activities, adventure and leisure education constitutes an important premise that needs to be strengthened and diversified in relation to the development of tourism. The modern global trends in the implementation of sustainable tourism strategies focus on experimenting new programs and activities in different environments with cultural and educational implications.

The significance of leisure and recreation for students has increased manifold in today’s fast-paced and competitive world where students are forced by both their guardians and the conglomerate of society and situations as a whole to devote increasing hours in academic learning, whether theoretical or practical and knowledge enhancing activities so that they can stay ahead in the “rat race” (Buckley, 2000). Add to that the present way of life where people mostly stay in small nuclear families and with parents working, the viability of our own home as a place where we can have recreational time has diminished

Recreation consists of activities or experiences carried on within leisure, usually chosen voluntarily by the participant – either because of satisfaction, pleasure or creative enrichment derived, or because he perceives certain personal or social values to be gained from them. It may, also be perceived as the process of participation, or as the emotional state derived from involvement.

Students, especially in higher education, now spend most of their time with college friends and outside of home for various purposes and work. Hence, in the current scenario, the best place to include recreational activities in one’s life is one’s place of education rather than at home (Crouch and Ritchie, 2000). This not only provides a chance to include recreations in one’s life, but also helps students to socialize and become less dependent on one’s parents. In the context of this study, we intend to investigate how the recreational behaviour of students in particular should influence tourism development within the University Community of Buea.

Recreation is defined as a pleasurable, socially sanctioned activity that restores the individual, concomitant with the experience of leisure (Simmons and Moore: in Jafari and Xiao, 2016). In a deeper psychological sense, recreation refers to the human emotional and inspirational experience arising out of the recreation act. Although it contrasts with the work, which is done mostly to earn money and mechanics of life (eating, sleeping), there is no sharp line between recreation and all other activities (Clawson and Knetsch, 1971). Therefore, some activities may be work at some times and recreation at others. In some manner, tourism contributes to the enlightenment of that difference.

Considering that most of the tourists, arrives in destination for leisure, it is expected that recreational activities they undertake will mostly be focused on recreation in its profound meaning – Latin “recreare”, to renew or to be re-created (Smith, 1992). Recreational activities that visitors undertake may include different specific indoors and/or outdoors actions. Some activities can be relatively formal, as in case of organized events and group activities, while most of the recreational activities are informal and include picnics, hiking, fishing, expeditions and many other activities. Regardless of form, recreation is an integral element of tourism product that influences significantly tourism development and visitors satisfaction (Tribe, 2012).

The concepts of tourism, recreation and leisure are specifically interrelated (Mandić, Mrnjavac, & Kordić 2018). Tourism forms special form of leisure: “leisure away from home, on trips”, albeit with some dimensions that raise it above daily recreation (Leiper, 1995). In some manner, last two or three decades tourism has contributed to the transformation of simple outdoor recreational activities like jogging to commercial and fashionable products. There has been a shift away from a simple non-commercial outdoor recreation culture toward a more sophisticated demand-driven commercial sector with new forms of recreation and a prospering outdoor retail industry (Buckley, 2000). Such trends have consequently resulted in the improvement of existing and development of new recreational facilities in most of competing tourism destinations.

Recreational facilities are an integral part of physical infrastructure which is an indispensable pillar of overall economic and tourism development (Khadaroo and Seetanah in: Jafari and Xiao, 2016). Along with hotels and other hospitality facilities, they form the constituent called tourism infrastructure. Each of these elements boosts tourism development mostly by raising the attractiveness and competitiveness of a destination. Tourists expect facilitates in their chosen destination to be comparable to what they enjoy at home, especially those that have become the essential element of everyday life recreation (Murphy 2000; Crouch and Ritchie, 2000).

Recreational facilities are mostly organized, provided and developed in the context of public and commune pool resources, which implies government and public sector involvement and provision. In that process, public sector deals with management issues ranging from simple cost-benefit analysis to complex questions of the optimal mix of recreational facilities (McConnell, 1985). In tourism destinations, public sector involvement implies local or regional authorities and tourist boards activities, focused on fostering sustainable tourism development.

Generally speaking, there is always the yearning to experience University life and facilities that are available in such environments especially by “freshmen” who for the most observe the more experienced peers to pick up cues (Tribe, 2012). The danger with this potential clientele is the aspect of risk caused inexperience and given the fact that access many leisure sites in our towns and cities are hardly concerned with the ages of clients, young people are exposed to potentially dangerous activities and content at touristic sites. In many countries where there is an understanding of the need to harness the development of young people, facilities are made available for students where they can relax and potentially be free from visiting “dangerous” places (Buckley, 2000).

It is observed that many touristic sites in Buea and other University Communities do not offer services tailor-made for students such as student nights, conferences, encounters and exchange where students can meet up and share ideas, relax and build better personalities since the university environment should also socialize the students (Tribe, 2012). The obvious consequence of this is that a very huge segment of the market is neglected and some simply stay away from most if not all leisure activities. This segment of the population in the view of the researcher, has a potential of contributing to the growth of the tourism industry and above all to the building of responsible youths. While some students will venture into leisure places (night clubs, snack bars, smoking parlors etc.) that are ill-adapted for them because of lack of control, many others simply stay away. The tourism industry is therefore losing the contribution of these youths to development of the sector and more young people are getting embroiled in obscenities and other uncivil behaviours.

Given that recreational activities for students are lacking, this creates a gap and students then in their recreational behaviours tend to go for smoking, abusing hard drugs, alcoholism, and other juvenile delinquencies such as sex parities and orgies that are taking a dramatic turn in our schools today. This study clearly observes that tourism development in Buea is hampered by the fact that a large chunk of the market (students) is neglected by service providers who offer recreational facilities for adult but inadvertently allow students to be part of this because there are no alternatives available. It must be said that for better academic outcomes, students should not be engaged in recreational or leisure activities that distract them from studies but this is unfortunately observed to be the case in Buea. The lack of control to ensure that minors do not find themselves in places for which they’re not age appropriate compounds the situation and strengthens the thesis held by most parents and guardians that sending their children to Buea is like sending to the “devil” himself. The recreational behaviour of students as an influence on tourism development is therefore the focus of this work.

1.3. Statement of the Problem

Buea has witnessed a thriving of a wide range of recreational facilities ranging from night clubs, swimming pools, volleyball courts, playground equipment, gyms etc. However, these recreational facilities face some challenges such as inadequate funding, staff shortages, security concerns, deterioration of infrastructure, increase in student population size and other users, inadequate promotional activities amongst others. All these challenges have hindered the growth of recreational facilities and tourism in general in student residential areas in Buea.

The development of some recreational facilities like snack bars and hotels in the student residential areas have proven incompatible with educational activities. The result of this is an increase in vices among students such as drug abuse, school absenteeism, and sexual promiscuity. Again, with the proliferation of these facilities, noise pollution is on the rise, rapid waste generation and disposal challenges, and insecurity among others. Unfortunately, these recreational facilities offer few specialized services like seminars and student galas that adequately match educational needs. If these were provided to students, tourism development would be enhanced and the character development of young people would preserved.

The obvious implications of this rise in uncontrolled access to recreational facilities by students have been unwanted pregnancies and a rise in crime. This also has a led to a drop in academic performance and school dropout rates. Mikko (2000) holds that student recreational behaviour enhances tourism development but if uncontrolled can lead to the negative scenarios highlighted above in the school milieu. Therefore, this study sets out to investigate how students’ recreational behaviour affects tourism development in the Buea Municipality. 

1.4 Research Questions

1.4.1 General Question

How can student’s recreational behaviour be better understood in a bid to propose corresponding product development strategies for tourism service providers in Buea?

1.4.2 Specific Questions

  1. What are the trends in development of recreational facilities in the Buea Municipality?
  2. What are students’ recreational behaviour in the Buea Municipality?
  3. How far do recreational facilities in Buea satisfy students’ needs and preferences?
  4. What strategies can recreational facilities in Buea adopt to adequately exploit the student market?
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