Determining the contribution of tourism to poverty alleviation in Mozambique : case studies of Praia Bilene and Macanetta
Understanding the role that tourism play in poverty alleviation globally has been a research focus of many studies in different countries. For an extended period the trickle down method of wealth distribution, where it was believed that riches find its way down the value chain to the poor in terms of taxes spent on welfare, infrastructure, grants etc., was globally accepted. In recent years though, focus on tourism as tool for increasing economic growth and poverty alleviation has been placed at the centre. It is true that in many cases tourism made a difference in the lives of the poor but it is also true that in many instances this is not the case. This dissertation analysed the perceived contribution made by tourism to poverty alleviation in Mozambique in general, and Praia de Bilene and Macanetta peninsula in particular. These are pre-eminently tourist destinations and ideally suited for a study of this nature. The primary goal of this dissertation was to determine the contribution of tourism to poverty alleviation in Mozambique by assessing Praia Bilene and Macanetta peninsula. The first objective was to describe and understand the link between tourism and poverty. It was found that the traditional definition of poverty no longer applies to most situations. That it is better to view poverty as a lack of access instead of money, access to natural resources, bureaucratic processes, capital markets and entrepreneurship. The review analysed different research methods, looking in depth at the livelihood analysis, ST~EP and MPI. The three pathways namely direct, indirect and induced levels on how tourism affects the poor were also explored. The most challenging area has to be the quantifying of tourism impacts on communities and local livelihoods. Concluding that the measurement of tourism impacts on poverty alleviation is an intricate debate and not easily accomplished. The second objective was to analyse the current status of the tourism industry in Mozambique. With 48% of sub-Sahara living in poverty, the picture in Mozambique is even drearier, with 54% living under the poverty line and 81% living under the $2 poverty line in the country (OPHI, 2013:1), confirming that it is one of the world’s poorest countries. Mozambique’s profile was analysed on its poverty status, tourism development, growth and the tourism impacts on the local communities of Bilene and Macanetta. It was found that several tourism opportunities are scooped up by foreigners and that this causes a major leakage of resources from regions where poverty alleviation by tourism is attempted. At a 7% GDP growth rate Mozambique is making very good progress, but due to being so poor and behind it is not reducing the poverty fast enough. The third objective was to determine the perceptions of two Mozambique communities on tourism impacts and the impact of tourism on their poverty status by incorporating the multi-dimensional poverty index. A perception analysis was done by means of a structured questionnaire presented to random residents from all walks of life at the two specific locations mentioned. The correlation between MPI and perceptions of the impacts of tourism shown that resident’s perceptions of tourism do not influence their deprivation scores negative or positive. It was however determined in an open question that an overwhelming 4 out of 5 people felt that tourism did contribute to poverty alleviation. The perceptions and reality therefore differ. The last objective was to draw conclusions and make recommendations with regard to the contribution of tourism to poverty alleviation in selected Mozambican communities. Conclusions were drawn as to the effectiveness of tourism as a strategic method in the onslaught against poverty in the selected communities. Amongst these conclusions was the fact that poverty seems to be an increasingly complex phenomenon. Due to the difficulty in defining poverty, a wide variety of research methods need to be used to assess the situation. No single approach to impact valuation of tourism on poverty can present all the answers. Concluding in this analysis into poverty and tourism’s relationship it was determined that not only did the factual data show that tourism did not alleviate poverty at these locations but that the population, in stark contrast to empirical proof, determined in their own mind that they perceived a definite improvement due to tourism. Thus residents do not necessarily receive personal benefits from tourism but they are positive towards the tourism industry. This should be utilised by creating opportunities for higher levels of participation in the industry as well as generating more tangible, positive affects for the local population in Mozambique.