SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AS AN AGENT OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN BAMENDA
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This first chapter of the study presents the structure of the wok in five chapters. Chapter one comprises of introduction, background, problem statement, research questions, research objectives, research hypothesis, scope of the study, significance of the study, definitions of terms.
Chapter two which is on the literature review, comprises of introduction, conceptual review, theoretical review, and review of empirical literature and research gaps.
Chapter three which is made up of the research methodology, comprises of the introduction, research design, area of study, population of the study (including target population, and accessible population), sampling procedures and sampling size, instruments, data collection, data analysis procedure and ethical considerations.
Chapter four which talks on the presentation of findings, comprises of the introduction and presentation of findings (following the objectives of the study).
Chapter five comprises of introduction, discussions, conclusions and recommendations.
Sustainable tourism can be traced back to the 1987 Brundtland Report titled “Our Common Future” published by the World Commission on Environment and Development which ignited the discourse of sustainable development across various sectors globally, although the term sustainable tourism was not explicitly mentioned in the report (Butler, 1999 cited in Marafa& Chan, 2019). Shortly after its publication, sustainable tourism had become a buzzword in the 1990s. The concept came out as a result of the debates surrounding issues of sustainable development (Butler, 1999 cited in Marafa & Chan, 2019). In the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (SD) target 8.9 aims to by 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products. The importance of sustainable development is also highlighted in the SD target 12 giving rise to sustainable tourism concepts.
Sustainable tourism in the 21st Century is geared toward the growth of tourism from which environmental degradation and resource consumption are significantly de-linked, avoiding and minimising negative impacts and economically and socially balanced benefits from tourism (Engels, 2003). Sustainable tourism came up because of the growing effects of mass tourism whose roots go back to the 18th Century. From the 1930s onwards, the growing availability of the motor car stimulated tourism further, and during the interwar years, the aircraft began to play a small role in the tourism market as an option for the wealthier classes, particularly in Europe (Swarbrooke & Horner, 2007). Mass tourism led to the mass production, mass consumption of tourism products and encouraged the emergence of package tours. Key factors that cleared the way for mass tourism for its golden age are: technology, production and management related changes in the progress (Sezgin &Yolal“`, 2014).
Today, sustainable tourism is considered the world’s first investment movement of the 21st Century for alleviating poverty. The economic crisis has had a major social impact on the lives of people in the world. Many now suffer from poverty and social exclusion. The consequences of the ‘Great Recession’ are severe in terms of access to basic services such as healthcare or education, employment or participation in social life (Lecerf, 2016). Food banks are experiencing upsurges in demand. Indebtedness, homelessness, in-work and child poverty are increasingly visible. Despite the United Nation (UN) target to reduce the number of people experiencing poverty or social exclusion by 20 million by 2020, the number of people at risk of poverty has increased: from 116 million people in 2008 to 122 million in 2014. After a slight decrease in 2013 following three consecutive years of rise, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the world remains almost stable in 2014, but is higher than 2008 levels (23.8%) (Lecerf, 2016).
Poverty can be alleviated mainly through achieving sustainable tourism development and ensuring that the poor have a share in that growth. Sustainable tourism principles are becoming one of the key points for development in an attempt to alleviate poverty and revitalise their economy (Luvanga & Shitundu, 2003). Sustainable tourism have increased employment for the poor in tourism enterprises, it has led to the creation and management of tourism enterprises by the poor, encourages voluntary actions by tourism enterprises and tourists and increases the investment in basic infrastructure to develop tourism while benefiting the poor (Chigozie, 2016).Jamieson, Goodwin and Edmunds (2004) further explain that sustainable tourism provide opportunities for capacity building, education and training, increases positive environmental impacts which benefit the poor, improves sociocultural status through community recognition and increased pride/self-confidence, reduces vulnerability through livelihood diversification, empowers the poor through effective engagement in the policy and planning process in their locality and increased participation in decision making which benefit poor people in specific and definable ways.
Sustainable tourism is recognised as an important agent of poverty alleviation in the
European world. This Region is endowed with natural destinations that are attractive to tourists (Engels, 2003). Many different organisations have been involved in the development of alternative sets of sustainable projects some of which include the European
Environment Agency (EEA), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank, WTO (World Tourism Organisation), and European Commission (Onder, Wober & Zekan, 2017). One example is the European sustainable tourism initiators developed by European Commission that aims to help destinations to monitor and measure sustainability help destinations to generate more economic benefits, improve destination management and increase visitor satisfaction (Marzo, 2014).To achieve sustainable tourism, the Europeans have adopted the Agenda 21 for sustainable tourism aimed at combating poverty and social exclusion by strengthening the role of tourism in the combat against poverty and using sustainable tourism to raise the employment rate; dealing with the economic and social implications of sustainable tourism by promoting entrepreneurship, promoting ethics in tourism, promoting responsible tourism as a factor for socio-cultural development; manage natural resources more responsible by conciliating tourism with nature protection and bio-diversity, encourage the sustainable use of natural resources, protecting landscape as a tourism asset through agricultural and regional policies, improve the transport system and land-use management(Engels, 2003). For example, in Germany, rural areas, nearly a quarter of the population is living in poverty or is at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The German government has made the fight against poverty a priority. One of the five headline targets of its 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (Augere-Granie, 2017). Southeast Asia has done remarkably well in both economic growth and poverty reduction.
The region’s economic growth rate during the past 25 years averaged about 5.0% per year, while the corresponding figures for Asia and the world were about 3.9% and 2.6%, respectively (Balisacan, Edillon and Piza, 2005). The growth accompanied a historic rapid poverty reduction, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. These achievements, however, have not been uniform across countries in the region. It is unfortunate that the MDGs’ target indicators are not broken down into urban and rural areas sector which makes it impossible for the government to achieve its sustainable development goals. This is because sustainable tourism developments in rural communities in Asia lacks the capabilities to educate, inform and teach the local population on how it can be used to reduce poverty. Making the locals to live in isolated, risky and un-serviced places (Balisacan, Edillon and Piza, 2005).
Poverty reduction remains one of the major priorities of development efforts in Nigeria as pointed out by millennium development goals (MDGs) (Toyin, Timothy and Funsho 2015). According to the World Bank Report (1990), the burden of poverty also weighs heavily on the people living in rural communities in Nigeria. For example, the forms of sustainable tourism development practiced in rural communities in Nigeria are: cultural tourism, rural tourism among others. But the state of sustainable tourism development in rural areas is very low such that it cannot be used to reduce the high rate of poverty situation in rural areas. The Nigeria government has adopted the national tourism policy as a strategy to boost sustainable tourism development. The policy aims at protecting and promoting Nigeria’s cultural heritage as a resource for homegrown socio-economic development, encourage community and public partnerships in tourism development, promotes Nigeria as a desirable tourism destination within the context of Africa’s cultural renaissance and ensures environmental sustainability in the development of tourism resources which are geared toward poverty alleviation (Oloidi, 2019). This sustainable development policy has helped to reduce the poverty level of the people by creating employment opportunities for them, improving the living standard of the host community, increases infrastructural development and social amenities while placing the host community on the world map with the increased influx of tourists visiting the area, (Okonkwo & Odey, 2017).
According International Monetary Fund (2003) the poverty situation in Cameroon remains high, affecting 40.2% of the population in 2001. Poverty level in Cameroon varies considerably according to regions, roughly increasing two fold between urban (22%) and rural areas (50%) and the poverty rate is higher for farmers (57%) and informal rural sector operators (54%), as well as for informal sector workers or the unemployed in urban areas (40%).The poverty situation in Cameroon is high due to insufficient resources for meeting essential needs and poor access to basic infrastructure services such as water, roads and electricity and to social services such as health, education, weakening social value system that translates in moral deprivations, loss of self-esteem, loosening family ties and a weakening sense of family solidarity, as well as widespread ethnic biases and social discrimination, insecurity, a lack of protection against abuses and a lack of basic rights and access to essential legal services(International Monetary Fund 2003).Cameroon is a country with different diversities of natural and human features. It is a country with over two hundred different ethnic groups and two official languages which are English and French which has termed the country as “Africa in miniature” (Noudou, 2012). Even though the country has abandoned tourism resources, the state of tourism resources is still very low. For example, efforts made by the government to promote sustainable tourism of ecotourism activities at Mount Cameroon are: the enactment of policies such as the Environmental policy and educating and training the various actors and stakeholders in the sector about the importance of sustainability (Nji, 2012).
Bamenda II Municipality is a very attractive and well-noted tourist destination in the North West Region, Western/highlands and Grass field cultural Area of Cameroon since it is home to many remarkable tourist resources like the Station Hill, Sisia Bat Cave /Waterfall, River Mezam, the Bamenda Escarpment, the Mankon Palace and Mankon Museum, among others with a high diversity of fauna species, good climate, several historical sites and unique cultural heritage of the Mankon people. These attractions have potentials to support forms of sustainable tourism that can turn to alleviate poverty within the Mankon Village and the national economy at large.
1.3 Problem Statement
Bamenda II Municipality is endowed with enormous tourism resources ranging from natural to man-made attractions like Station Hill, River Mezam, Sisia Bat Cave/Waterfall, the Bamenda Escarpment, Mankon Palace and Mankon Museum among others that can be exploited for sustainable tourism development and poverty alleviation. Other destinations like Dschang in the Grass Field Cultural Area of Cameroon have gone a long way to exploit their assets like museums, monuments and palaces among others that have been exploited and are impacting the welfare of locals by improving their standard of living, bringing infrastructural development to the community and creating job opportunities for the locals. Contrarily in Bamenda II Municipality, resources like River Mezam, Sisia Bat Cave/Waterfall, cultural festivals and other cultural assets are currently lying idle or underexploited for sustainable tourism development. Tourism resources like the Alankie Heritage site, River Mezam, ‘Mishwium’ (royal cemetery), the station hill, the Bamenda Escarpment in the area are lying idle because the locals are unaware about the rich tourism potentials and are not trained to valorise and harness the resources for sustainable tourism and poverty alleviation. Moreover, the area lacks professional conservators, tour guides, curators, voluntaries and preservators among others needed to support a viable tourism sector. Giving that those currently engaged in tourism-related activities only possess indigenous skills which do not conform to training expectations of the government of Cameroon.
In addition, some of the ongoing tourism projects/activities in the Bamenda II Municipality are unsustainable and so cannot have meaningful and long-term impacts on poverty alleviation. The absence of basic amenities like good roads, accommodation facilities, restaurants, shortage of network, good drinking water, electricity and souvenirs among others equally pose stumbling blocks to effective tourism consolidation in the area. There are no motorable roads leading to tourism attractions like the Alankie Heritage site, the main road to the Palace and the Museum in Mankon. The few roads that are accessible are not in a very good state either, for example, the road from Mile VI Mankon leading to the Mankon Palace and the Meta-quarter stretch was tarred but presently, there are so many potholes and the road has not been developed due to the crisis. Communication networks that could be used for promoting and advertising these touristic sites are not stable. There is frequent power cut leading to no or inadequate internet for communication. In terms of hotel infrastructures, there are no hotels available around the Mankon Palace or Museum that tourists can lodge while visiting the site, they need to return to town for overnight stays, thereby reducing local earnings.
Political instability in the English speaking regions of Cameroon since 2017 has further constrained tourism development in the entire North West Region, Bamenda II Municipality and Mankon Village in particular. The resulting state of tourism and socio-economic well-being in Bamenda II Municipality is currently breeding other social ills like terrorism, prostitution, kidnapping for ransom and ritual killings of locals and tourist. As such, there is dire need to reconsider alternative sources of revenue like sustainable tourism in order to alleviate the prevalent situation of poverty in the area.
Furthermore, there is little research work on sustainable tourism and poverty alleviation in
Bamenda II Municipality that could help raise awareness about potentials of sustainable tourism. Previous researches in the area have targeted the roles of stakeholders in tourism development in Bamenda Municipality as in studies of Fonyuy (2008), development of rural tourism as an alternative strategy for poverty alleviation in Oku Cameroon by Neba (2010) and the potential of developing cultural tourism in North West Cameroon by Kimengsi and Lum (2018) among others. No study has settled on how sustainable tourism can be used as an agent of poverty alleviation in Bamenda II Municipality, which is of interest to the present researcher.
1.4 Research Questions
This study is guided by the following questions:
1.4.1 General Question
What is the potential of sustainable tourism in poverty alleviation in Bamenda II Municipality?
1.4.2 Specific Questions
- What are the different tourism assets found in Bamenda II Municipality?
- How is the state of tourism development and socio-economic development in Bamenda II Municipality?
- What challenges are plaguing sustainable tourism development in the Bamenda II Municipality?
- How can sustainable tourism development be boosted to alleviate poverty in Bamenda II Municipality?