Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Marketing, Tourism and Leisure

Faculty

Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Lynnaire Sheridan

Second Advisor

Dr Dale Sanders

Abstract

Sustainable tourism has been identified as a potential tool for development in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Specifically, at the community level, Community Based Tourism (CBT) has emerged as an effective model to promote the development of sustainable tourism which produces meaningful benefits for all sectors of the community while protecting the longevity of the tourist product, and encouraging environmental and cultural conservation. The practical implementation of sustainable tourism in LDCs via CBT models faces many challenges. The source of these challenges is the complex stakeholder environment in which the theoretical and practical elements of CBT exist. Stakeholders have influenced the theoretical understanding of CBT through the multitude of definitions further hindered by the variations in terminology that abound within the theoretical literature. Internal stakeholders further complicate the implementation of CBT in communities, through misinterpretation and their different agendas. The potential negative outcomes of these external stakeholder influences include the persistence of poor quality theoretical models and inadequate information sources for practitioners. Internal influences can result in increasing power imbalances within the community, and the establishment of conflicting goals for CBT. Cambodia presents a unique opportunity to explore CBT as the model utilised to implement sustainable tourism for development in an LDC. Cambodia, identified as an LDC in 2001, has focused on the use of tourism to stimulate development, with recent attention being given to the opportunities for CBT. The aim of this research gives consideration to developing informed best practice for the implementation of CBT in LDC communities by finding a means to minimise these potential negative outcomes. To do so, the case studies of two rural communities in Cambodia utilising CBT to stimulate community development have been explored –Banteay Chhmar, Banteay Meanchey Province, and Banlung, Ratanakiri Province. The research was conducted in two phases, consisting of semi-structured and structured interviews with members of the community directly participating in tourism, the tourism committee, and non-participants in tourism. A total of 67 residents participated in both phases of the research. The key findings of this research.The key findings of this research show a strong positive perception of tourism by both communities which is supported by the perception of a range of positive economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts which dominate any minor perceived negative impacts. The research revealed the importance of the role of perception in the successful implementation of CBT. In particular, the research revealed that the perception of self,perception of community, and perception of the tourism committee have a considerable effect on the development of community support for tourism, which enhances meaningful participation for effective implementation of CBT. This alludes to social capital as an idea which can benefit the theoretical understanding of CBT, and therefore, inform practice. This research informs the practical implementation of CBT by highlighting the importance of open communication as a facilitator of education and awareness of CBT, which supports tolerance and support of CBT during and after implementation. Also highlighted was the importance of community pride, collaboration and commitment to community activities, represented as community cohesion. This cohesion is essential for the implementation of CBT in the LDC context, as it serves to mitigate some of the challenges encountered in disadvantaged communities. Finally, the foundations for a considered approach for the establishment of effective CBT committees are established. In addition to the assumption that CBT committees ensure community control of tourism and fund development goals, there is also a need to focus on the continued support of community cohesion as being essential for the continued success of CBT in the long term. From this exploration of two sites in Cambodia, this research makes meaningful theoretical contributions regarding the foundations of understanding how to implement CBT effectively in the Cambodian LDC context. The practical solutions identified will facilitate this implementation process, and can potentially be extrapolated to other similar LDC settings, and into general community development scenarios.

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