Departmental Bulletin Paper Indigenous Ecotourism as a Poverty Eradication Strategy: A Case Study of the Maasai People in the Amboseli Region of Kenya

ONDICHO, Tom Gesora

56pp.87 - 109 , 2018-03 , The Research Committee for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Ecotourism is presently promoted as a lethal weapon to fight poverty in many developing countries including Kenya. While much of the empirical and theoretical literature on tourism has largely dwelt on the negative socio-economic impacts, there is comparatively limited research that examines tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction especially within the Kenyan context. A case study of the Maasai people living on the fringes of Amboseli national park in Kenya was undertaken to find out the role of indigenous ecotourism on poverty alleviation. A mixed method qualitative study was carried out in the months of November and December 2015. The findings show that the Maasai people participate in indigenous ecotourism through their community-based cultural boma tourism enterprises and that many people have a positive attitude towards this form of tourism because it utilizes locally available resources (culture), vests ownership and control firmly in local hands, provides opportunities for people without education and business skills especially women to participate, and the benefits are kept local. The study suggests that while at the moment the benefits are small and erratic, indigenous ecotourism makes useful contributions, albeit in a small way, to poverty alleviation through income generation, job creation, creation of market for locally produced goods, voluntary charitable donations, provision of infrastructure and social services, improvement of local livelihoods and spinoff activities. The study concludes that the Amboseli region has enormous potential for indigenous ecotourism which, if well planned and managed, can make useful contributions to rural development and poverty alleviation.

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