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Journal Article

The Impact of Community-based Afro-alpine Tourism on Regional Development

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Steinicke, E., & Neuburger, M. (2012). The Impact of Community-based Afro-alpine Tourism on Regional Development. Mountain Research and Development, 32, 420-430. doi:10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-11-00102.1.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-D1EF-5
Can existing Afro-alpine tourism promote poverty mitigation and resolve regional disparities? This article explores the significance of alpine tourism in the Mt Kenya region based on analysis of the state of the art and official statistical data along with own surveys, mapping activities, and household observations. The results show that economic benefits from mountaineering tourism in the Mt Kenya region are smaller than commonly calculated, and that low and inconsistent incomes are distributed unevenly. There are clear parallels to the critical situation in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda: Alpine tourism does not reduce regional income disparities and largely fails to promote sustainable development. The article also takes a closer look at the development effects of community-based tourism, drawing from the example of the Mt Kenya Guides and Porters Safari Club (GPSC), a community-based tourism organization operating from Naro Moru, at the fertile western foot of Mt Kenya. Results show that this form of tourism stabilizes the livelihoods of rural households, contributes to community welfare, and reduces the vulnerability of families. The GPSC’s democratic organizational structure with elected and regularly rotating offices prevents the enrichment of only few members and ensures even distribution of benefits to all members and to the whole community. Overall, however, there is not enough tourism in the study area to initiate sustainable regional development in the foreseeable future.