ABSTRACT

Saadani National Park is relatively newly established, less developed in terms of infrastructure and moderately visited compared to other national parks in Tanzania. Given these characteristics, communities surrounding the park see an opportunity to develop green, locally based tourism around their areas. Such initiatives are expected to be owned and managed by the communities. Community-based tourism has been widely considered an opportunity to enable rural communities tap small-scale tourism business potential in support of livelihoods, preserve the environment and improve’ attitudes towards conservation of wildlife resources. Consultative meetings, focus group discussions and experience sharing were used to assess community potential and their readiness to embark on small-scale community tourism initiatives. The study was conducted in six villages surrounding Saadani National Park. Findings show that communities in all six villages are enthusiastic and ready to start small-scale sustainable tourism initiatives. The opportunity of earning extra income and preservation of coastal heritage and culture were the two key motives shared across members. Furthermore, communities see tourism ventures as opportunities to secure decent jobs and strengthen their relationship with park management, especially in areas where park-community relations have been difficult. However, across all villages there are high expectations of quick, direct individual benefit from the expected tourism ventures. It was also not clear among many community members how funding for these initiatives is going to be realized and managed. It is, therefore, necessary for the park and tourism planners to manage goals and expectations of the communities to make sure that all members take off with similar projections and anticipations. Similarly, multiple stakeholders are needed to support such initiatives if the long-term sustainability of these ventures is to be guaranteed.