Issues in measuring success in community-based Indigenous tourism: elites, kin groups, social capital, gender dynamics and income flows
Taylor, Sarah R.
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Taylor, Sarah R. 2017. Issues in measuring success in community-based Indigenous tourism: elites, kin groups, social capital, gender dynamics and income flows. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 25:no. 3:pp 433-449
Tourism development is a key feature of the neoliberal economic development model. Through a mix of state and private investment, Indigenous communities in Mexico are encouraged to transform local cultural and environmental resources into tourist consumption sites. The process results in a shift toward reliance on tourism, in place of farming, leaving households with few alternative earning strategies amidst fluctuating tourist arrivals and income, confounding the relationship between tourism and sustainability and questioning the utility of tourism as a sustainable tool for development. This article analyses a communitybased Indigenous tourism project in a rural Maya village in Mexico's Yucatan, and discusses strategies employed at household level to navigate the arrival of tourism. Funding agencies assessed this project based on a triple bottom line metric that accounts for ecological health, financial sustainability, and its relationship to local social capital; however, these fail to account for differences between local and non-local conceptions of authenticity, indigeneity, and success. From a social perspective, the project has exacerbated existing tensions and has arguably widened the gap between the politically and economically powerful and less powerful, marginalized families in the community. Questions about policy, governance systems, and elite domination and kin group control are raised.
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