Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) Benefits

4867 words (19 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

15/12/17 Environmental Studies Reference this

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1.1 Background

Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) has been identified by various environmentalists and conservationists as the best way to offset human-wildlife conflict which impedes local support for national parks (Hulme & Murphree 2002). By channeling tourism revenue to local residents, conservationists hope to offset wildlife costs and improve local attitudes toward conservation. To date tourism revenue-sharing programs have met mixed success (Western 2001).This study looked at the extent to which revenue sharing policies are put into practice and look at what projects funds are distributed across, beneficiaries of revenue sharing and the criteria used to determine them and look at implications for inequality, the livelihood impacts of revenue sharing and determine whether policy makers meet their commitments and the constraints to revenue sharing around Bwindi impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

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The growth in tourism industry has been one of the most profitable in national and communal economies in the Africa that were recently recognised by international and other global activists of development and environment concern. This has resulted in the need for several governments to transform from their earlier practices of managing tourist areas in conformity with the need to protect the environment and improve peoples’ livelihoods. As one of the ways to protect the environment and promote tourism, several national parks officials in Uganda like in many other parts of Africa have barred people from using them freely and tourism is now regarded as a tool to promote conservation and provide people with opportunities to improve their economic situations.

Tourism in Uganda has been transformed from the traditional trend of activities based only on viewing animals to one that is ecologically oriented and at the same time benefiting the local communities around them. So-called eco-tourism therefore is an environmentally responsible form of tourism to relatively undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature, promote conservation, encourage low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of the local population (IUCN 1992). Eco-tourism aids conservation of the natural environmental heritage through sustaining the well-being of the local people through provision of revenue for planning, management, and evaluation, stimulation of economic tourism through tourist expenditures and even creation of markets for local people’s products (Hulme and Murphree 2001). Local communities here, refers to the group of people living in or near the protected area and usually have to gain or lose something as a result of the distant management and access to resources in this area (FAO 1992). Living adjacent to the Park, these people often pay the highest costs in terms of the park existence or pose the greatest threat to them and receive the least benefits compared to other beneficiaries (Adams and Infield 2003) and yet, it is local communities regarded as holding values and preferences compared to state interests embedded in protected areas.

The development and success of eco-tourism put much emphasis towards winning local people’s support and even maintaining positive attitude towards ecotourism and conservation. For eco-tourism to succeed there is need for collaboration and full participation of the local communities in both conservation and management of natural resources, upon which eco-tourism is based (Obua 1996). This helps to create good relationship and a sense of ownership on the side of local people. Failure to do this can be a cause for conflict and resentment between the park management and local people (Mutebi 2003).

According to Groove (1993), eco-tourism came up as a result of three basic reasons; First, dissatisfaction among tourists with the standard of mass tourism; second, the increased awareness amongst tourists of their potential impact on the host environments and the indigenous societies; and third, the love for adventure and nature by tourists.

The origin and development of ecotourism in Uganda was based on the growing awareness that protected areas were alienated from local people and had many chances to fail without local peoples’ support (UWA 1996). As a result of this, there has been development of eco-tourism as a variant of conservation and revenue generation because it is believed that eco-tourism can generate revenues that may be re-invested in protected areas to facilitate conservation and improve people’s livelihoods. It is argued that ecotourism helps to provide a sustainable tourism option. This is achieved through its emphasis of the areas’ carrying capacity concept and the possibility of increasing the well being of people residing around these areas through sharing with them receipts from tourism, as is being done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP)

In 1991 BINP was upgraded to National Park status. The shift from Forest Reserve to National Park had more implications than just a change in management. It also had a major impact on the surrounding communities; they were no longer allowed to enter the area. This implied that they no longer were able to utilize resources, as they had done traditionally. People who traditionally depended on forest resources for their survival in terms of energy, building materials and non-timber products for their livelihoods were denied access. The Forest Department used to allow free extraction of the non-timber products of the forest (Namara 2006).

In addition to loss of access and control over park resources, people residing adjacent to the national parks bear costs related to wildlife conservation in terms of crop and livestock raids. However, despite the losses and costs suffered by local communities to wildlife conservation, tourism revenues were being collected both at national level and on park gates without necessarily scaling down to local people (Hulme and Murphree 1999). In an effort to manage and distribute diverse natural resources, the government of Uganda embarked on policies, regulations and acts through the parliament to ensure adequate implementation and protection of natural resource use (UWA 2001).

A revenue sharing scheme was introduced in Uganda to enable local people benefit from forest resources and improve on their livelihoods. The success or failure of this policy is the core concern of this research. This study sought to investigate if the Uganda Wildlife statute of the 1996 policy implementation that requires 20% of park entry revenue to be allocated to the people residing around the park for their development benefits was achieved. According to the literature available, revenue sharing is under pressure and subject to claims from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to meet management costs in several other National Parks that earn little revenue on their own. These claims constrain adequate distribution and use of revenues to compensate for the real and perceived economic costs foregone for Park conservation among local people. This rise the concern for accountability and transparency in setting up sustainable programs needed to improve people’s livelihoods. These research objectives set grounds for finding solutions to such problems.

1.2 Problem statement

Despite the growing body of literature on revenue sharing, there are still conflicting debates about the success and failures of community conservation in Uganda (Hulme and Murphree 2001). There is however, a paucity of studies on revenue sharing in Bwindi National Park, a situation that warranted research. It is equally perplexing that studies conducted about revenue sharing in various National Parks, have shown that their benefits are far less than the cost and prospective of resource use within the Parks (Hulme and Murphree 2001). This has been attributed to the fact that revenues obtained from tourism are distributed without frequent planning and understanding of social, cultural and economic contexts of areas surrounding the park.

Bwindi National Park has a protection status but local people continue to invade the park and carry out illegal activities like pit sawing and snaring to supplement their subsistence activities (Madden 1999). To solve the tension and conflicts around the Park, UWA, CARE and IGCP embarked on programs like revenue sharing, sustainable use of non-timber resources and conservation education. Hulme and Murphree (2001) reported in chapter to that funds obtained from revenue sharing were used in constructing schools, health clinics and road construction. However, it was not known whether and how revenues intended for community development through revenue sharing benefited local people. This was owed to the fact that there was uncertainty of the revenue sharing policy and practice, community and individual level of access to revenues obtained from the park, and how tourist revenues compensate and support the livelihoods and development of local people. There was thus a need to undertake this study to understand how best conservation could meet local community needs and benefit people residing along the Park in line with national policies, while protecting the environment.

1.3 Research Objectives


The goal of this study was to examine park revenue sharing and its livelihood impacts to residents around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, western Uganda.

1.3.2 Specific objectives

-To examine the extent to which revenue sharing policies are put into practice and look at what projects funds are distributed across.

-To identify beneficiaries of revenue sharing and the criteria used to determine them and look at implications for inequality.

-To assess the livelihood impacts of revenue sharing and determine whether policy makers meet their commitments.

-To identify the constraints to revenue sharing around BINP

1.4 Justification

It is believed and evidenced those good relationships between people and parks are a major element of ensuring sustainable conservation. Due to some benefits associated with people residing adjacent to national parks, community attitudes towards national parks have improved over time. According to UWA, the revenue sharing scheme aims at empowering local communities in local resource management and tends to ensure sustainability and improved rural livelihoods. As a development study student, I thoroughly scrutinised how policy impacts implemented from top government levels without the consent of local people can be a big setback in determining people’s development at the local level.

The main intention was to look at which extent revenue sharing policies were put into practice. The concern was whether local people benefited from resources available in their localities; and whether these benefits related to revenue sharing. By evaluating the level of benefits obtained as a result of revenue sharing, recommendations on policies suitable for the local community were made. This research is important for both governments and non-government agencies that are involved in implementing conservation policies. This work intends to identify and look at the gaps between policy and practice, and formulated possible recommendations to ensure better sustainable livelihoods of people living around Bwindi National Park.



The chapter provides a documented review of the general concept of ecotourism as a part of environmental conservation and likens it to the livelihoods of local people. The chapter begins with the history of environmental conservation in Uganda and then links it to natural based tourism as a way of combining tourism and protecting the nature, while developing communities residing around such areas.

2.1 Background of environmental conservation and tourism revenue sharing in Uganda

In Uganda like in any other tropical areas, people residing adjacent to forested areas normally depend on forest resources for survival. Before changes restricting people’s access and control over these resources were made, they solely depended on such for income, food, energy, medicine and hunting (FAO 1992). Hulme and Murphree (2001) reported that the international and national conservationists claim that forested areas are vulnerable to human activity and a threat to biodiversity. To counter this, new management policies that restrict people’s access and control over these areas are thus normally established. To ensure protection and control over forest losses, major forest reserves including Bwindi were turned into National Parks and put under a single management unit Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) (Archabald and Naughton 2001),

Tourism revenue sharing is not a new idea in Uganda. As early as 1950’s, the Chief Game Warden declared: African Local Governments should receive a portion of the revenue accruing from game license fees to increase their interest in faunal matters, and thus encourage them to render greater assistance in the preservation of game and the enforcing of game laws (Archabald and Naughton 2002), This encouraged more reserach in revenue sharing

Studies in revenue-sharing started early in 1952 and sustained until Independence in 1962. In general, a part of revenue from tourism fees was given to districts.

No attempt was made to channel revenue directly to residents neighboring the park. However the Game Department shot wildlife caught raiding farms and offered local citizens the game meat (Naughton-Treves 1999). They further argued that no official facts that linked revenue sharing payment agreements to local communities with conservation policies

While there are reports of local chiefs apprehending poachers, other chiefs and kings continued to hunt wildlife illegally despite revenue-sharing programs. One warden concluded that ‘A far greater awareness of the value of game animals has been shown by the Kingdom Governments and District Administrations, but on the whole they have not made any significant effort to stamp out poaching’ (Tennant 1963, p.33). Revenue-sharing projects continued after Uganda’s independence, but in 1971 the country plunged into a 15-year civil war and the government lost control of wildlife and parks entirely (Hamilton 1984). With peace in 1987, Ugandan civil society began to be rebuilt. Eventually the national government endorsed biodiversity conservation and began shoring up the national park system and ‘upgrading’ several forest reserves to national parks (Sebukeera 1996).

Due to the increased pressure by International donors and other non government organizations the government of Uganda recognized the importance of community-based approaches to national tourism revenue-sharing and adopted a new park policy in 1994.

To check the viability of the new policy, a pilot project was established in Bwndi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, in which 20% of revenue/income from gorilla tracking permits would be distributed to local communities residing near the park.

Local communities welcomed the pilot project optimistically and it ran efficiently. Uganda National Parks (UNP) regulated that all the parks in the country set aside 12% of their total income for revenue sharing (Uganda National Parks 1994)

Two-thirds of tourism revenue was to be shared with local communities neighboring the park, while the remaining third was to be divided between the park’s home district government and a central pool at national park headquarters designated for communities surrounding those parks that generated very little income.

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The 1994 national mandate to share park revenue offered only a vague definition of the target beneficiaries as those people living adjacent the parks that are affected by, and affect the park (Uganda National Parks, 1994). Park level managers defined the target community as all parishes neighboring the park, a definition that emphasizes proximity to the park and pre-existing administrative units. In Uganda, parishes are subdivisions of districts governed by local elected leaders. They border three parks involved in the study extending up to 3 km from the park border in Mgahinga, 7 km in Bwindi, and 8 km in Kibale (UWA 2001).

According to Archabald and Naughton (2001), the 1994 revenue sharing policy mandated Park Management Advisory committee (PMAC) with the responsibility to administer tourism revenue-sharing funds for each specific park.

Although it was not specified in the national policy mandate, the park management committee decided to elect Parish Park Committee (PPC) representing to represent each parish in all the three study sites, to work as a link between local communities and Park Management advisory committee (PMAC). The 1994 tourism revenue sharing policy required that collected funds be used to benefit projects that would serve to improve high number of people’s livelihoods. However, this policy had to change prematurely after the Ugandan legislation merged Uganda National Parks and the Game Department into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in 1996 (Archabald and Naughton 2001).

The newly amended legislation set a change in revenue sharing policy from that of 1994, which included 12% share of all income obtained from the park, to 20% of fees obtained at each park (UWA 1996). Policy makers hoped the increase in tourism revenue-sharing would result into improved livelihoods and park popularity to local communities (Baliikowa 2008, Archabald and Naughton 2001). The change in TRS policy theoretically intended to increase the amount of money distributed to local communities as an alternative forgone for their free interaction with the park.

The policy change and change in management from Park Management Authority Committee to a local parish level committee weakened institutional sustainability for TRS and made the 1996 tourism revenue-sharing policy given less priority and the policy saw a decrease in funds due to the exclusion of fees for viewing gorillas and chimpanzee (UWA 2001). According to Archabald and Naughton (2001) TRS scheme process was still bared with irregularities. Revenues generated under the 1994 mandate were later redistributed to local communities in 1998, four years after policy implementation. This slip in redistributing tourism revenue share continued until 2002 when UWA passed out another policy that started to be implemented in 2001 (UWA 2001).

2.2 Ecotourism

Tourism is an ancient activity that has become so diverse in its objectives and setting that it is now broken into a variety of sectors of which one of the most and rapidly growing sectors is that of nature based tourism. Obua (1996) referred nature-based tourism to that is directly dependent on the use of natural resources in a relatively undisturbed state. This is contrary to mass tourism whose development in natural areas has often led to the degradation of the very features that first attracted the tourists to the area.

Owing to the above, a new concept was developed with an environmentally responsible approach called sustainable tourism. WTO (1993) defined sustainable tourism as any activity managed in a way that enables it to continue indefinitely. As a sustainable program, ecotourism is the fastest growing segment of the nature based tourism sector.

2.2.1 Ecotourism and the local people

To be sustainable, ecotourism must involve local people in its planning, development and management (Obua, 1996). Cater (1994) highlighted that tourism can encourage better basic services such as water and electricity; and also create jobs for local people, increase their income levels and support other social and environmental benefits. Cater further stresses that to link sustainable tourism to economic development, its benefits must have an impact on the livelihoods of indigenous communities to warrant improved management of their environment. Cater further notes that, not only should the local, people receive tangible benefits from ecotourism development but their education and, sensitisation on the importance of conservation is of paramount importance.

Dueto the fact that most of the remaining natural forests are under the control of the government in Uganda, ecotourism offers local communities opportunities to become more involved in the management of their village forests and see material benefits coming from them. Rea1isation of the benefits from the parks by local people is often accompanied by a decline in deforestation and poaching (Obua, 1996). This has made ecotourism show potential to provide a practical and effective means of providing social and economic benefits to the local people. Obua (1996) notes that, education levels and income influence local people’s attitudes towards ecotourism. This is because education increases ones awareness of the importance of protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources and determine the extent to which the local people depend on protected area for their livelihood. If provision of such services is not properly implemented however, the local people may harm the conservation goals. This therefore stresses a need for continual monitoring of development programs targeting people surrounding the park.

2.2.2 The success of ecotourism

The success of the management of protected areas greatly depends on the degree of support and respect accorded the neighbouring communities. Where protected areas are looked at as a burden, local people can make protection and conservation completely impossible. However, when tourism is seen as a positive development, local communities would combine their efforts together with park management in providing protection to the area from external forces and destruction mostly by the locals. Involving local people is a vital factor in reducing infringements of conservation regulations such as poaching and indiscriminate tree felling. Due to corruption however, conflicts develop owing to non-equitable sharing of benefits offered by conservation bodies and the conservation area itself. This physical exclusion from the very resources upon which they depend for their basic needs threatens to ecotourism development (Laudati 2007).

It is important to note that there have to be economic incentives for conservation. A major incentive is to secure, restore, and develop the capacity of ecosystems to generate ecosystem services (including food, timber, pollination, seed dispersal) because this capacity constitutes the very foundation for social and economic development (Daily 1997). Conservation science has a major role to play in identifying the role of functional groups of organisms, their redundancy, and their response diversity in relation to ecosystem services and in recommending ways to sustain diversity in this context.

2.2.3 Impacts associated with ecotourism development

The viability of ecotourism has received substantial attention among conservationists as a potential tool for sustainable development Debates about Uncontrolled and controlled or restricted tourism has raised a lot of controversy among scholars. The majority of the literature supports the concept behind ecotourism; however, even the supporters like Cater (1994) express caution over the hidden risks inherent to any nature based tourism activity. The potentially negative impacts from tourism have a number of faces. Uncontrolled tourism may lead to ecological disturbances and environmental degradation; create unwanted social and drastic economic impacts as well.

The restrictions meant loss of forest resources and land which was once used by locals for agriculture to maintain their livelihoods. Crop raiding is another problem faced by people living around parks. Despite restrictions and damages done on their crops, efforts to compensate local people who depended on forest resources especially land were insufficient (Balikoowa 2007). This has resulted into increased poverty among local people and there is an urgent need among stakeholders and the Uganda Wild life authority to solve this problem.

Alternatively, ecotourism has the potential to positively contribute to the development of an area. However, in order for this potential to be realised, a number of conditions must be fulfilled. These include; the regional market, management capacity, ecological and cultural attractions development, adequate infrastructure, access and security, and well-defined linkages between the local residents and conservation activities (Cater, 1994). Whereas some of the conditions are out of control of most tourism stakeholders, certain conditions can be achieved through active management. In the absence of active management, the true ecotourism potential in any given area will not be realised, and it is highly probable that negative impacts will occur.

The concept of ecotourism in conservation helps to ensure deliberate and planned policies geared towards reducing the negative impacts of tourism activities on the environment. This is done by minimising impacts in one place by developing new attractions or activities for tourism in different places. Ecotourism here therefore encourages diversification necessary for development.

As a form of integrated tourism where all stakeholders are involved (operators in the industry, conservationists, lawmakers, and local people), it encourages cooperation, planning and support for sustainable development. Ecotourism offers the local people the opportunity to improve their livelihood through the various economic activities that are developed and to participate in nature conservation or environmental management.

The need for ecotourism development in Uganda has resulted into the initiation of the revenue sharing program. This implies that 20 percent of the profits from park entry fees are given to the communities. Each parish adjacent to the park boundaries is given a share of the money. The money used to be invested in infrastructure benefiting the whole parish, such as schools and feeder roads. It appeared that this strategy did not have the impact UWA was looking for, a big part of the communities did not link these improvements with the National Park. The strategy of UWA therefore changed, they start focusing on directly improving the situation on household level, for instance by buying goats for the villagers (UWA, 2002).

In relation to the above, in order to improve the relation between the local communities and the Park Authorities, people are allowed to gather products from the forest in some areas of the park; this can be done in the so called Multiple Use Zones (MUZ). The products that can be extracted in these zones are medicinal plants, craft materials and seed collection for on-farm planting outside the park. The products that can be extracted are all listed, at this moment 36 species of medical plants and 21 species for basketry purposes are listed. In addition, some farmers are allowed to use the park for placement of beehives for honey collection (Plumptre, Kayitare et al. 2004). These MUZ are not accessible for all surrounding communities, only those communities who have signed a MoU can access the park, these are at the moment the communities in fifteen out of twenty parishes bordering the Bwindi.

2.2.4 Community participation and ecotourism development

Cater (1994) defined community participation as a situation where people act in groups to influence the direction and outcome of development programs that will affect them. Agencies promoting any community participation program need to deal with organised entities with conventional procedures for making and implementing group decisions. Cater (1994) further notes that much as generating such an entity is hard, working with existing authorities may not be reaching all of the target beneficiaries or all those whose cooperation is essential to the project. Kiss (1991) stressed that local participation towards the development of an ecotourism project involves all people who are directly affected by wildlife from the protected area or have an effect on it. According to Ziffer (1989), increased local people’s involvement in conservation results into low negative impacts on the environment where as low involvement yields high negative impacts by the local people.

2.3 The UWA Revenue Sharing Scheme

In an effort to compensate and sustain people residing in areas adjacent to the parks, conservationists and Uganda Wildlife Authority recognize the need for programs that would benefit local communities who affect and are affected by protection policy of the forested areas. Uganda national parks adopted a revenue sharing policy in November 1995 and the government of Uganda passed a legislation under Uganda Wildlife Statute of 1996, which under section 70 (4) stated that the board shall subject to subsection 3 of section 23 pay 20% of the park entry fee collected from a wildlife protected area to the local governments in the area surrounding the wildlife protected area (UWA 1996).

From the collections, revenue sharing was one of the means of improving community park relations soliciting support from local communities around protected areas in order to ensure sustainability (Archabald and Naughton-Treves 2001), and indeed the report continued to emphasise that revenue sharing provided a mechanism of attempting to address fair and just distribution of benefits from protected areas to local communities who bear the biggest cost of protected areas (Hulme & Murphree, 2001). My research therefore aimed at identifying whether this policy had been put into practice. Its level of success and people’s perception on revenue sharing among communities residing around Bwindi National Park were looked into.

2.4 Attitudes of the local people towards conservation

Allport (1935) referred attitudes to a mental and neutral state of readiness, organised through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individuals’ responses to all objects or situations with which it is related. Attitudes are thus not born with but learned and have objective reference, differ in valence and like most psychological concepts; can be deduced from the observed antecedent stimulus and the consequent behaviour pattern.

According to Lindberg (1991), local people’s attitudes towards conservation are mostly induced by ecotourism’s contribution to the local economy. This can be in form of increased incomes by the local people, increased employment opportunities and even general infrastructure without forgetting participation of all stakeholders at all stages (government officials, protected area personnel and the local people). Contrarily, negative attitudes result from the negative impacts that local people acquire from ecotourism development. These may be in form of inflationary pressure on local economies and exclusion of the local people from management and use of resources on which they depended on for their basic needs (Cater, 1992).

The involvement of several stakeholders makes it difficult for policy makers and beneficiaries of tourism revenue share fail to meet their intended objectives which justifies Laudats’ statement that “ Individuals for whom the projects are intended are minimally consulted, and policies are not negotiated with the input of local residents but are determined and evaluated based on institutional core values and foreign parameters of success” (Laudati, 2007), increasing vulnerability of local communities as a result of poor coordination and management between Uganda Wildlife Authority and National policy makers.

2.5 Constraints to revenue sharing

Constraints to revenue sharing stats with the vague manner in away which benefactors are defined by some scholars For instance, according to Uganda National Parks (1994) beneficiaries are defined as people living adjoining the parks that are affected by, and affect the park. Thus, Agrawal (1997) arg

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