Using Tourism as a Vehicle for Sustainable Development: A Case Study: The Garifuna People of the Honduras Coast

By Leah Gayle Jorgensen and Tony Ward.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Carefully managed tourism can foster sustainable development. In most cases, though, tourism does not generate substantial benefits for the local population, who obtain only menial work. We evaluate the potential for sustainable tourism development for the Garifuna, an indigenous people on the north coast of Honduras. There is currently a small amount of tourism in the area, but there is the potential to significantly improve the well-being of the Garifuna.
We consider three local communities, which currently have varying amounts of tourism. Using household surveys, key informant interviews and direct observation, we assess the attitudes of the population to various aspects of tourism development. The Garifuna are keen on using tourism to replace their current mainstay, fishing, in which incomes are falling. A large majority of the population in these communities see tourism as offering economic, social and environmental benefits.
We use these perspectives to develop appropriate plans for sustainable benefits. Land ownership is complex, complicating any plans. The Garifuna currently have poor nutrition and health, and limited access to education. Their needs are therefore acute, highlighting the necessity of an economic generator in the Garifuna communities.
One of the communities is a small low-lying island, which has great potential for development as a high-quality, small-scale diving destination. Another is suitable for ecotourism development, and the third could develop cultural tourism. Preparation of detailed plans will require extensive local consultation and the formation of cooperatives, but we prepare outline plans for each of the three locations, and conclude that there is good potential for sustainable tourism development.

Keywords: Indigenous Peoples, Sustainable Development, Collaboration, Partnerships

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.255-268. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.217MB).

Leah Gayle Jorgensen

Student, Tourism and Environment, Brock University, Brock University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Tony Ward

Chair and Professor, Economics, Tourism , Environment, Brock University, St.Catharines, Ontario, Canada

PhD from UBC Canada, in Canadian economic history. I work and publish in both economic history and environmental economics, and I chair a new Department of Tourism and Environment. My main area of research is late Nineteenth Century history of the Canadian Prairie, and I am currently examining the well being of the aboriginal peoples.


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