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Local economic linkages to community-based tourism in rural Costa Rica

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Abstract:

This paper reports on the contribution of tourism to the wellbeing of rural residents through the development of economic linkages engaged by community-based tourism (CBT) in rural Costa Rica. In a qualitative case study of local economic linkages surrounding one such project in Chira Island, economic linkages were assessed at two levels: discourse and practice. The findings indicate that CBT does not involve the collective property of the community, but rather, the collective property of a group of community members organized in a formal association. As a result, a discourse on local economic linkages has been promoted by CBT support organizations in which hopes of wider benefits are placed on small linkages to services and products provided by local community members. However, a field survey suggested that the economic linkages generated by CBT in the community were sporadic and polyvalent and, furthermore, that the linkages with agriculture are negatively affected by scale and seasonality, resulting in leakages out of the community. These findings caution practitioners that CBT may only have small-scale positive impacts on the local economy.

Keywords: Costa Rica; community-based tourism; economic linkages; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); rural development; rural tourism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9493.2009.00375.x

Affiliations: Department of Tropical Agriculture and International Cooperation, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Pingtung, Taiwan

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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