Eco-tourism in Cameroon’s protected areas

Investigating the link between community participation and policy development

Authored by: Vyasha Harilal , Tembi Tichaawa

Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138496088
eBook ISBN: 9781351022545
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351022545-29

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Abstract

Many countries within the global south have adopted tourism as a strategy to spur on economic growth and development in their economies. Cameroon, often referred to as “Africa’s miniature”, is no exception and has adopted strategies for the growth and establishment of an eco-tourism sector. However, key issues need to be addressed before the sector can reach its full potential. This study therefore sought to examine why the current practices in the eco-tourism sector, specifically within protected areas in Cameroon, are not resulting in sustainable outcomes for local communities. Focusing mainly on two protected areas where eco-tourism occurs (Mt. Cameroon National Park and Douala Edea Wildlife Reserve), the study employed a qualitative research method, where in-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with various stakeholders in the tourism industry in Cameroon and from the study areas. Key findings suggest that the current eco-tourism practices in the protected areas of Cameroon are not bringing in sustainable outcomes in terms of including local community members in the activities and decision-making processes or evenly distributing the benefits accrued from eco-tourism activities to local communities. Consequently, there is a strong sense of discontent and lack of cohesion between the community and authorities involved in the eco-tourism sector. The lack of strategic planning seems to be a symptom of a lack of policy application and targeted research to inform policy formation and planning. Recommendations of this study include further research to inform eco-tourism planning and policy within protected areas in Cameroon and initiation of true collaboration between local community members and eco-tourism stakeholders to ensure future sustainability.

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