Ecotourism: the modern predator? Implications of gorilla tourism on local livelihoods in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Ann A Laudati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The role of ecotourism as a means of influencing the path of local development or
encouraging conservation activities is not unproblematic. Indeed, an increasing body of literature not only challenges the assumed benevolence of ecotourism but critically questions the role of ecotourism in contributing to the greater social and economic justice so often assumed under these programs. This paper seeks to contribute to this growing body of critical literature through an analysis of the impact of ecotourism on the everyday lives of rural villagers adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, paying particular attention to the social forms of access to and control over the process through which decisions about ecotourism take place. Drawing on a year of ethnographic-based fieldwork, this paper focuses on how the commodification of Bwindi as a product of wilderness, a wild and unspoilt destination marketed to foreign visitors, promotes the external control of conservation spaces by international organizations that ultimately
contribute to, rather than alleviate, poverty and dependency in local communities. Beyond providing just another case study, however, this analysis argues that the `new' relations between people and parks created under ecotourism in Bwindi have in actuality created new forms of control and vulnerabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-743
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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