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Example research essay topic: Kenya A Paradigm For Sustainable Development - 1,640 words

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A Paradigm for Sustainable Development Introduction: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the historical development of Kenya's nature based tourist industry in order to develop a better understanding of the concepts relating to sustainable tourism in the developing world. I will show how past resource management practices has affected tourism's carrying capacity. Because of the complicated ness of this paper I will break it down into five sections. In the first section I will define sustainable development. In the second I will briefly describe the history and current state of nature based tourism in Kenya.

In the third section I will give examples of elements that threaten to saturate the carrying capacity of nature based tourism in Kenya. In the fourth and final section I will give a brief historical account of ecotourism's presence in Kenya and give ways in which it can be a possible source of sustainable development in the future. Part 1: What does sustainable development really mean? The most common definition of sustainable development is: development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). In essence, for sustainable development to occur there must be some sort of trade-off between the aspirations of the present and those of the future.

Successful management of resources is the cornerstone of sustainable development. Creating sustainable development is especially important to nature based tourism because it completely relies on an ecological resource that is usually non-renewable and irreplaceable. Once the environmental resource has developed past the point where it is no longer attractive to perspective tourist the entire economy of the dependent host community will collapse. The maximum amount of positive development that can occur is determined by the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the saturation point where anymore development will result in the degeneration of future resources. All nature-based tourism locations have limited ecological, aesthetic, and social carrying capacities.

The ecological carrying capacity is reached when the number of visitors starts to have a negative impact on the wildlife and environment (Whelan, p. 11. ). The aesthetic carrying capacity is reached when tourists encounter so many other tourists that the intrinsic value of the beauty of the environment is marred (Whelan, p. 11). The social carrying capacity is reached when the number of tourist in relation to the host population increases to the point where there is increasing unfriendliness, and hostility directed towards the tourist (Jackson, p. 90). When a tourist destination reaches the saturation point of any of the three carrying capacities a decrease in the revenue generated by tourism will result... The most important point in devising an optimal tourism development policy is not to let tourism grow to the extent or in the form that it brings about its own demise.

It is essential to determine and monitor the carrying capacity of a tourist location. Unfortunately very few areas in the developing worlds have identified the carrying capacity, or determined how to avoid exceeding the carrying capacity. This is especially true for fragile ecosystems where the carrying capacity can dramatically change from season to season and year to year (Whelan, p. 31). Obtaining sustainable development is difficult, especially for developing countries. Widespread poverty and a general lack of financial resources make it difficult for poor countries to voluntarily curb growth.

This is because often times sacrificing economic growth results in starvation and / or rampant suffering. Also, a community's lack of financial resources can limit its ability to determine its economic direction. Also because the business in developing countrys are often owned by outside sources the locals have little or no input in business decisions. Furthermore developing countries often are plagued with political instability and governmental corruption that makes it difficult to enact ordinances controlling economic growth.

Also, it is highly likely that by the time that a developing country realizes that their economic growth is unhealthy it is too late to turn back because of over-dependence on the tourism industry. According to the Tourism Development Magic Pentagon-Pyramid, created by Hansruedi Miller, there are five variables that must be balanced to ensure sustainability. The five variables are: economic health, subjective wellbeing of the locals, unspoiled nature, protection of resources, healthy culture, and optimum satisfaction of guest. Each of the variables are equal in value. According to Muller for sustainable tourism to occur there must be absolute harmony among the variables. This would mean maximizing the positive relationships between all the factors while keeping the negative repercussions to a minimum (France, p. 30).

Part 2. A brief history of nature based tourism in Kenya. Kenya, commonly known as the old man of nature tourism, is the foremost ecotourism destination in the world (France, p. 90). Since 1987 nature based tourism has become Kenya's largest foreign currency earner (Weaver, p. 114). In 1997 750, 000 foreign tourist visited Kenya creating $ 502 million in revenue (Honey, p. 296).

The strength of Kenya's nature tourism can be attributed to Kenya's vast park system and extensive wildlife population. Twenty-six parks, twenty-eight reserves, and one sanctuary span 17, 000 square miles, or roughly 12 percent of Kenya's territory (Honey, p. 294). Kenya boasts the largest concentration of wildlife anywhere in Africa as well as accommodating the greatest land migration of animals in the world (Honey, p. 293). The national parks are built upon the colonial era of big game hunting. Big game hunting was a symbol of Western superiority, not only over nature but racial and class domination. At the turn of the twentieth century Kenya was covered by healthy populations of a wide variety of wildlife.

The animals were allowed to roam freely across the land, living in harmony with the native Africans. Soon after the colonization of Kenya in the late nineteenth century the great white hunters Made fortunes by selling ivory. The colonial powers encouraged the white sites to kill at will so that they could use the land for agricultural purposes. Hundreds of thousands of elephants were decimated (Whelan, p. 24). The National Parks Ordinance of 1945 was teh first peace of hunting legislation which was designed to protect the wildlife from the native people... Gradually it created what is now Kenya's National Park System.

When the national parks were created hundreds of thousands of rural people were forced to relocate outside of the parks boundaries (Honey, article). Even after Kenya's independence in 1963 Colonialism and Western dominance could still be seen and understood in the way in which the Parks were managed. During the 1950 s Kenya only attracted about 1000 foreign tourist a year, most of whom were white elitist (Weaver, p. 120). After independence Kenya's government made growth in the tourism sector a top priority. In 1965, a special department of tourism was created to develop a strategy to popularize Kenya as an attractive tourist destination (France, p. 91).

Fueled by government incentives to foreign investors and major airlines the tourism industry grew at the astonishing rate of more than 300 percent between 1960 and 1972 (Honey p. 295). A significant proportion of the tourism being generated was Big game hunting by Europeans and Americans. By the 1970 s over hunting was threatening the survival of the big game species such as elephants, rhinos, and leopards. In 1977 the Kenyan government responded by declaring a complete ban on hunting (Whelan, p. 25). Despite the ban on hunting poaching still continued. Park management incompetence, corruption and the worldwide demand on ivory and other game products proliferated poaching.

Between 1975 and 1990, Kenya's elephant population dropped by 85 percent, and its rhinoceros population fell by 97 percent (Honey, p. 299). Following the ban wildlife viewing safaris replaced hunting, and within five years of the ban on hunting, nature tourism was a booming business (Whelan, p. 25). In 1987 the Hollywood film Out of Africa promoted Kenya's natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, and wildlife which served to boost nature based tourism even more. In 1989 650, 000 ecotourists, nearly twice the number as a decade before, visited Kenya (Whelan, p. 26). During the 1990 s Kenya's tourism has been tumultuous.

The Persian Gulf war caused tourism arrivals to drop and between 1990 - 91 Kenya's share of the African market shrank 2 % (Honey, p. 297). Between 1997 and mid- 1998 election unrest, politically instigated ethnic clashes and killings along the coast, a crime wave, and unusually heavy rains caused 30 percent of the tourism sector workforce to be laid off (Honey, p. 297). In August 1998 the explosion of a terrorist bomb in the U. S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi caused the State Department to issue a travel warning, advising Americans against traveling to Kenya (Honey, p. 297).

This event caused many Americans to cancel travel arrangements and Kenya's tourist industry suffered even more. Over the past year the industry has recovered some. Hotels which were operating at 40 percent in 1998 are now operating at between 80 - 100 percent (Foot tit, p. 32). Tourism in Kenya has had a turbulent history. There are many problems that face Kenya's tourism industry. Decimation of wildlife populations, park overcrowding, financial ineptitude, and political instability are threatening the sustainable development of Kenya's tourism resources.

Changes in governmental attitudes and regulations are necessary for the preservation of Kenya's natural resources. Part 3: Threats to the carrying capacity There are a number of factors that will determine the maximum revenue point that nature tourism will be able to obtain. Once the growth limitation has been exceeded the tourism industry will decline unless it is rejuvenated by resourceful ideas (Weaver, p. 14). The following is a brief list of the factors that threaten to overwhelm the three controlling capacities: social, ecological, and aesthetic: &# 61623; Social: As the tourism density increases cert...

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