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Can community-based tourism contribute to development and poverty alleviation? Lessons from Nicaragua. In Current Issues in Tourism, vol 14 (8): 725-749

Journal article
Authors María José Zapata Campos
Michael Hall
Patricia Lindo
Mieke Vanderschaeghe
Published in Current Issues in Tourism
Volume 14
Issue 8
Pages 725-749
ISSN 1368-3500
Publication year 2011
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 725-749
Language en
Keywords development, impacts, life cycle, community-based tourism, pro-poor tourism, Nicaragua
Subject categories Social Sciences


Since the development of community-based tourism (CBT) governments, development agencies and NGOs have placed considerable emphasis on this development model. However, CBT has been strongly criticized with respect to low economic impact in terms of jobs and income, the result of small-scale interventions, its low life expectancy after external funding ends, the monopolisation of benefits by local elites, or the lack of business skills to make it operational. This article explores the viability of the CBT model to support socio-economic development and poverty alleviation via a Nicaraguan case study. The characteristics and effects of different modes of organising community tourism were examined, based on an impact assessment and lifecycle analysis of the CBT Nicaraguan Network. The results showed how traditional top-down CBT, created and fully funded by external organisations, reflected the general criticisms of the approach, while bottom-up CBT, borne as a result of a local initiative, demonstrated longer life expectancy, faster growth, and more positive impacts on the local economy. The findings suggest a shift is required in the attention of donors and policy-makers towards redistribution policies that strengthen the skills, resources, and conditions of micro, community-based and family entrepreneurship, together with a stronger orientation towards the domestic markets.

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