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Tourism, economic transition and ecosystem degradation: interacting processes in a Tanzanian coastal community

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Abstract:

In this article, tourism development in the village of Kiwengwa on the east coast of Unguja Island (Zanzibar), Tanzania is investigated. The results show that tourism has caused complex changes in the coastal community. Economically, local income has increased substantially, but tourism has also led to a focus on indi vidual benefit and dissolving kinship relationships, encouraged the abandonment of traditional resource-use strategies, contributed to the commodification of local natural resources, and spread the idea that these resources can be replaced with imports. Overall, tourism has fundamentally disrupted the local socioeconomic system and led to a self-reinforcing cycle of ecosystem degradation. Tourism devel opment is nevertheless perceived as sustainable because: (i) changes are complex and damage becomes perceptible only in the medium- or long-term future; (ii) the tourist industry tends to shift its impacts to remote areas, i.e. a supplying periphery; and (iii) the village has become a centre of resource allocation itself, with imports compensating for the losses in local ecosystem capacity.

Keywords: COASTAL COMMUNITIES; ECONOMIC TRANSITION; NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMIC SUSTAINABLE TOURISM; WORLD SYSTEM THEORY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/146166800110070504

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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