Maldives, the capital area of Male’, whilst it

Maldives, a renowned luxury travel
destination has guests spending approximately $400 to $850 per night at high
end resorts. However, despite the tourism industry contributing towards 22% of
the country’s GDP for the past five years (Tourism Yearbook 2017, P19) only
foreigners and a select group of locals enjoyed the positive benefits of
tourism.

In 2009, President Mohamed Nasheed announced
revolutionary legislative amendments that permitted tourists to reside in local
islands and saw the emergence of ‘guest houses’, local homes converted into boutique
hotels as the first steps toward community based tourism (CBT). Maldives
steered away from the private ‘one island – one resort’ concept and tourists
and locals intermingled, allowing the tourism industry to directly impact the
lives of locals.

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This essay will assess the impacts
of community based tourism on Maldivian culture, economy and environment whilst
debating that the positive impacts far outweigh the negative impacts.

The
exposure to foreign cultures heavily influenced the lifestyle of Maldivians. Western
concepts began to be integrated into the culture and traditions, leading to
lifestyle choices that saw more absent fathers and breakdown of marriages.

CBT
played a major role in creating jobs within the island. This created a positive
lifestyle change as fathers & husbands were able to remain at home and earn
a considerable income to support their families.

 

Kundur
(2012) highlights, that tourism in Maldives developed in several phases and the
5th phase presented the launch of the Third Tourism Master Plan
which aimed at taking tourism to the people. This new initiative allowed the
practice of community based tourism and the opportunity to develop sustainable
livelihoods.

According to
Graci 2012 “Community based tourism development in essence,
leads to the empowerment of local people which ultimately results in
sustainable livelihoods”. This is evident in the changes of the
Maldivian poverty rate statistics. Poverty
remained stable in the capital area of Male’, whilst it declined substantially
in the atolls; creating a dramatic drop from 25% in 2003 to 14% in 2010

 (‘Maldives: Systematic Country Diagnostic,” 2015, P30).

This indicates decentralization and fair wealth distribution across the atolls.

However, Mtapuri & Giampiccoli (2013) argues that
for successful economic impact, community based enterprises must remain under
the total control of local community to ensure that they are not dominated by
elite or external actors. Often, business groups and foreign investors attempt
to capitalise on opportunities generally reserved for CBT entrepreneurs leading
to economic benefits being controlled by the elite rather than reaching locals.

 

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