Indigenous people, tourism and development? The San people's involvement in community-based tourism
The overall theme of this thesis is the relationship between tourism and its industry, and indigenous people struggling for sustainable development and cultural recognition. A prevailing assumption has been that tourism, as a modern institution, will change and perhaps even destroy traditional cultures in an effort to turn them into a commercial product. Questioning this assumption, this thesis explores if, and how, indigenous people can create development by means of tourism, without having to compromise their culture and future as A People. Being among the world’s most marginalised indigenous people, but perhaps also some of the most famous cultural ‘Others’, the San people of Botswana provides the empirical ground from where this relationship is examined. The complexity of this relationship is analysed at two levels: On an empirical level, where a case study of a San owned Community-Based Tourism project – a Cultural Hiking Trail – provides the empirical based for examining and discussing the development opportunities, challenges and constraints provided by tourism. The Botswana national history and contemporary socio-political situation present the context in which this issue is explored. The argument is that a tourism model, which does not address the San people’s needs and aspiration as a marginalised indigenous group, brings little prospects of sustainable development and empowerment. The relationship between tourism and indigenous development is furthermore approached on a theoretical level. The discussion address the ambiguity and power inherent in the concept of ‘authenticity’ in tourism, where the ‘authentic’ often is defined and marketed as if there was an absolute and objective standard upon which tourists’ experiences could be determined authentic. The author argues that tourism will not a-priori change or destroy the San people’s indigenous culture. Through empirical examples it is illustrated that the San’s direct involvement in tourism may also generate new forms of authenticity and cultural traditions through processes of cultural transformation and innovation. This may furthermore aspire to empowerment as the San are allowed to be both ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’. By approaching the relationship between ‘Indigenous Peoples’, ‘Tourism’ and ‘Development’ empirically and theoretically, this thesis concludes that if tourism is undertaken on the capacity, skills and knowledge of indigenous people themselves, tourism could provide opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development and empowerment.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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