Sustainable community tourism in Belize: assessing community involvement, product development, and social and economic impact
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The thesis focused on acquiring a sufficient level of understanding of how and to what extent tourism is implemented in livelihoods of the indigenous people (Maya and Garifuna) of Belize and if it truly benefits their lives. The research provided an assessment of actual and perceived economic, social and other effects of tourism on the livelihood of two communities in southern Belize - the inland community of Laguna and the coastal community of Hopkins Village. The study was approached from the pragmatic perspective and included the multiple case study framework, literature review, semi-structured interviews and observations. The research was conducted from January to February 2015. The results of the study demonstrated that the communities of Laguna and Hopkins are at different stages of integration into the tourism industry. The research revealed that the economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and its importance for local livelihoods varied between both villages and was dependant on a number of factors – geographical, cultural, social etc. The issues of preserving cultural heritage, problems of marginalization, lack of skills, exclusion and other were all identified as significant factors. A number of recommendations were made based on the results of the study.