Empowering Local Communities through Tourism: ‘Community Empowerment’ has become the buzzword of the 21st century. When the communities are enabled to have increased control over their lives is referred to as community empowerment. The group of people which may or may not be connected spatially, but they have common interest, identity and concerns are called as communities. On the basis of their specific or broad interests, the communities can be National International or local.
Empowerment can be defined as the process by which the people can have more powers to control their lives and also have the increased standard of living with equal opportunities. Empowerment refers to the increase in the assets and attributes which lead to have access to the capacities of the individuals in order to gain more control on whatever they do.
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It is also assumed that the people in the community only empowered by themselves after they acquire power in different form. Here the role of external agent is only in the form of a catalyst. So we can say that empowering community is much more than their participation, involvement and engagement in the local projects. That means it implies the ownership of the community and their actions which can even brings social and political change.
The truth in the process is that if community is going to be empowered then there must be somebody who will be losing control at the end and there is renegotiation of gaining more control. The ultimate solution to the problems in the community such as health, economical, political, cultural and social lies in the empowerment of the community. Globalisation in the recent past has also added another dimension in the process of community empowerment.
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There is a close linkage between the global and the local world and action on one cannot be ignored to create influence on another. Increase level of education and awareness among the communities plays a vital role in ensuring empowerment. The participatory approach in the communication can result in dissemination of the knowledge and awareness in the communities which need to be empowered for making the world a better place.
Tourism Development and Community Empowerment
The participation of the local community is essential in tourism industry. The basic idea of the community based tourism is that community should be able to anticipate the tourism development in their area and it is the community leaders which make the development of tourism successful by their involvement. Many communities of successful tourist destinations realized the importance of tourism for bringing in change of their social, cultural, environmental and economic dimensions.
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Communities have started using tourism as tool to support their development specifically economic development which is a necessary foundation for all other types of development. Community leaders of the area are playing an important role in taking care of problems arose from tourism development and also they are concerned for community empowerment and community welfare. The concept of empowerment arises as a vision to provide local community to overcome from the situation of noiselessness and powerlessness condition.
Methods Empowering Local Communities through Tourism
The tourism phenomenon helps to empower the local communities by following ways:
- Developing new forms of Tourism: The new forms of tourism need to develop which help in achieving economic benefits of tourism while minimizing economic costs. To boost tourism in a particular area lot of money is invested to conserve local heritage, to improve infrastructure, to provide better local facilities which in return creates better education, better leisure facilities, organizing frequent social events thus a better lifestyle for locale people.
- Benefits to Local Community; Benefits generated from tourism should be spread widely amongst host community. Empowering Local Communities through Tourism
- Protecting Local Businesses from Unfair Competition: There has to be policy in place which helps to protect the local businesses from unfair competition from larger, externally owned enterprises.
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- Providing Employment Opportunities to Local People: Provisions have to make to provide proper training to the local staff so that they become capable to work in managerial roles as well as manual roles.
- Equal Employment Opportunities: Equal employment opportunities should be given to all the local residents of the destination whether women or men, there will not be any discrimination on the basis of age, sex etc.
- Encourage Purchase of Local Goods and Services: Tourist should be encouraged to purchase the local goods and services so that it can directly contribute to economy of local residents.
- Minimize the Economic Leakage: Benefits from many organizations go abroad. It is critical to guarantee however much cash as could reasonably be expected remains inside the host nation. This can be a troublesome exercise in careful control, since you would prefer not to stop Foreign Direct Investment.
- All Stakeholders in Tourism being given Equal and Fair Treatment: There should be equal and fair treatment given to all the stakeholders or investors involved in the planning and management of tourism at the destination.
- Equal Treatment of Local People and Staff: There should be equal treatment given to local resident of the destination and the staff working in the same organization.
- Managing Tourism in a way that Local Residents keep up their Dignity: At a tourism destination the tourism should be managed in a way that local residents keep up their dignity.
- Benefits of Tourism are Generally Disseminated among the Host Group: The benefits of tourism are generally distributed among the local residents so that they feel more motivated for the tourism development at the destination in a sustainable manner.
- Promote Local Culture: There should be proper promotion of local culture e.g. dance cuisine and attire. Ensure that tourists are taught about local customs. This also ensures the participation of local people.
- Sell Local Items to Tourists using Traditional Techniques: To increase the economy of the local resident; local items should be selling to the tourists using traditional techniques, so that they can be aware about the traditional techniques of the local community.
- Encourage participation of tourists in demonstration classes offered by local people: To encourage the participation of tourists in the demonstration classes offered by the local people that will help to promote the culture and contribute to the economy of local residents.
- Educating tourists about the sustainability: Educating tourist about the concept of sustainability so that the available natural resources should be used in an effective way.
- Ensure visitor knows how to regard local traditions and customs: To make sure that the visitors knows how to regard traditions and customs of the local communities so that the emotional sentiment will not hurt.
- Introduce the lowest pay permitted by law that is a liveable salary: There should be introduction of lowest pay permitted by law that is livable salary for the workers engaged in tourism planning and development.
- Reinvest of profits in resident communities: To reinvest the profits earned by the tourism in local resident communities.
- Ensure tourist facilities available to both locals as well as tourists: To ensure tourist facilities and amenities should be available to both local residents as well as the tourist.
- Keep away from privatization of beaches, parks, and so on: The privatization of beaches, parks should be kept away for the uniform development of tourism.
Empowering Local Communities through Tourism