Community integration in ecotourism: A comparative case study of two communities in Peru

Mitchell, Ross E.
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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates the hypothesis that a community, characterized as highly integrated in its respective ecotourism industry, will experience greater socio-economic benefits (especially employment, income and perceptions) compared to another community with relatively low integration. Household surveys, key-informant interviews and financial aspects of selected business in both communities were collected during 1997. Significant relationships were discovered for both perceived and actual benefits pertaining to community integration in ecotourism, especially equitable decision-making and sharing of employment and income. Taquile Island had a much greater degree of ecotourism control in terms of local participation in ownership and management. However, leakages of revenues from ecotourism activities were considerably high for both destinations. It was found that three factors greatly influence the successful integration in community-based ecotourism: (1) awareness, (2) unity and (3) power. This study concludes with a practical model for future research and development in ecotourism or other forms of community-based tourism.

ecotourism, community integration, Peru, socio-economic benefits, decision making