Chapter 5: Ecotourism and community participation
Who could possibly object to greater community participation? It suggests a greater level of control by and democracy for people – surely a laudable goal at all times and in all things. Certainly, the community participation agenda is a broad one in contemporary society, and in the developing world ‘getting local people involved’ in projects for development and for conservation is a commonplace theme. According to one account, ‘since the 1970s in many ways, community participation has become an umbrella term for a supposedly new genre of development intervention . . . [T]o propose a development strategy that is not participatory is now almost reactionary’ (To sun, 2000, p. 615). The implication of the call for greater community participation is often that it is more democratic, as it involves communities in decisions that affect their lives. It suggests a greater degree of control for the community over their destiny, rather than control being exercised from outside. Often this sentiment is articulated explicitly through terms such as ‘empowerment’. In this sense, the call for community participation in development is very much in the neo populist development tradition – it emphasizes the role of communities in their own development.
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