The potential of tourism revenue sharing policy to benefit conservation in Rwanda

Authored by: Ian E. Munanura , Edwin Sabuhoro

Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa

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

Print ISBN: 9781138496088
eBook ISBN: 9781351022545
Adobe ISBN:


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Community-based tourism programs emerged over the past two decades to promote sustainable conservation of wildlife in sub-Sahara Africa. These initiatives have led to the concept of Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS). The TRS concept is perceived to be a strategy through which livelihoods are improved to create incentives for wildlife conservation among residents in highly populated communities adjacent to protected areas. The critics, however, have challenged the potential of TRS to develop and sustain community support for conservation. In this chapter, we use the case of Rwanda to explore the constraints that adversely affect the potential of TRS to generate support for wildlife conservation. We use a Sustainable Livelihoods framework to synthesize constraints in Rwanda’s TRS program. The synthesis is focused on residents’ capability to access and maintain livelihoods, equity in livelihoods distribution, and sustainability of livelihoods. The synthesis shows that Rwanda’s TRS program has improved the livelihoods of residents neighboring parks. However, the synthesis also revealed that Rwanda’s TRS benefit distribution is inequitable and only accessible to residents who can afford annual membership fees. From the sustainability perspective, Rwanda’s TRS investment in schools and healthcare infrastructure has the potential to enable the creation of a healthy and productive human population near parks. In the short-term, however, the possibility of such social programs to directly and positively impact conservation remains to be seen. It is therefore essential for Rwanda’s TRS program to directly link TRS investment to both short-term and long-term conservation goals, with emphasis on equity in access to TRS benefits.

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