This paper examines what is needed to transform nature tourism to protected areas into ecotourism, having genuine social benefits and serving as a tool for sustainable community development. It draws on the case of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania’s most visited protected area, and a multiple land use zone inhabited by the pastoral Maasai peoples. I argue that for ecotourism to promote sustainable development in communities that are its supposed beneficiaries, three fundamental conditions must be met. First, opportunities to capture the economic benefits of tourism must be structured in a way that is culturally appropriate, and therefore accessible to the target population. Second, for communities to benefits from ecotourism, they need secure land tenure over the area in which it takes place, as well as the ability to make land use decisions for that area. Third, tourism benefits to local communities must be more than economic; they must promote deeper social and political justice goals that, if left unaddressed, restrict peoples’ ability to enjoy the economic benefits of tourism. Without these elements, the conservation outcomes of ecotourism are likely to be less favorable.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.