Dive tourism and local communities: active participation or passive impacts? Case studies from Malaysia.

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Daldeniz, Bilge ; Hampton, Mark P.
  • Publisher: KBS Working Paper 245, University of Kent
  • Subject: GV

For many Less Developed Countries international tourism has long been considered a driver for economic development (OECD, 1967). However, tourism has also been heavily criticised for its negative environmental and cultural impacts and significant economic leakages due to the dependence of many host countries on large trans-national corporations (Mowforth and Munt, 2003). Specialist tourism forms such as eco-tourism or small-scale locally owned tourism have been promoted in response to these criticisms,with benefits advocated for local communities, greater cultural awareness by tourists and\ud more controllable environmental impacts (Weaver, 2001; Scheyvens, 2002; Hampton,2005).\ud Using local participation approaches, this Working Paper examines dive tourism\ud as a form of niche tourism and assesses its impacts on local host communities. It investigates whether, or to what extent, active local participation is possible, and how far host communities are merely exposed to ‘passive’ impacts of dive tourism.\ud The study covered three research locations in Malaysia and revealed that many\ud aspects of local community life were affected by dive tourism. Besides physical changes such as new infrastructure, the study showed varied economic impacts for local communities through the existence (or lack of)employment/business opportunities, and differing levels of economic linkages, notably the purchase of goods and services between the dive industry and host villages. Local participation varied between locations and a number of obstacles to increased participation were revealed. Furthermore, impacts\ud on local culture and society were observed as well as a lack of participation in possible cultural productions (handicrafts, performances) by local host communities. As a consequence of the dive industry’s initiatives however, positive educational impacts were noted, especially concerning environmental awareness and English language acquisition.
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