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Poverty alleviation through pro–poor tourism: The role of Botswana Forest Reserves
Manwa, Haretsebe Albertina
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Both government and international donor agencies now promote the use of tourism to alleviate poverty. The Botswana government has embraced tourism as a meaningful and sustainable economic activity and diversification opportunity, which now ranks second after mining in its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. The study reported in this paper investigates perceptions of stakeholders on the opportunities that would be created for the poor by opening up Botswana’s forest reserves for ecotourism. Data was collected through mixed methods involving in-depth interviews with government departments, traditional leaders, quasi-government organisations and the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana. Focus group discussions were also held with village development committees, Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust (CECT) and Kasane, Lesoma and Pandematenga Trust (KALEPA) members, and a consultative national workshop of stakeholders was also held. The findings indicate that opening up forest reserves for ecotourism has the potential to alleviate poverty among the disadvantaged groups living adjacent to forest reserves through direct (employment, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)), secondary (linkages/partnerships) and dynamic effects (sustainable livelihoods). The study concludes by cautioning that whilst pro-poor tourism may yield short- and medium-term benefits, in keeping with sustainability objectives, participants in the programme need to be mindful of forestry encroachment and come up with strategies to ensure the sustainability of the Botswana forest reserves.
- Faculty of Humanities