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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community member learning in a community-based ecotourism project in northern Vietnam Tran, Linh Thuy

Abstract

Tourism development sometimes focuses too much on short term monetary benefits and inadvertently causes environmental and social degradation. Community-based ecotourism (CBET) is an alternative model of tourism development that has the potential to avoid certain negative side-effects while promoting environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. Adult learning and education and gender issues are two critical but under-researched areas in ecotourism development. Informed by a combination of theoretical concepts in adult learning, environmental adult education, and women's empowerment in community development, this study examines the content, process, and outcomes of community member learning in three aspects of a CBET project in Vietnam. These include: 1) The development and management of the CBET project; 2) The protection and conservation of the local environment; and 3) Local women's empowerment. Field research for the study was undertaken on a model CBET project in Giao Xuan commune near Xuan Thuy National Park, Vietnam, a wetland recognized for its importance to environmental conservation by the Ramsar Convention. The study took an interpretive case study approach incorporating qualitative research methods of interviews, participant observation, and document analysis. Thirty-one research participants took part in the study, including seven project staff and consultants, and twenty-four community members. Study findings indicate that even though there is much room for the improvement of the planning and implementation of the CBET project, community members in the Giao Xuan CBET project have actively learned to make CBET an effective strategy linking the development of ecotourism with sustainable development. The CBET project has brought a new source of income to the local community, promoted local environmental conservation and made positive changes in local gender roles and relations. Study findings contribute to knowledge of the effectiveness of CBET as a means of community development, the role of adult learning and education in CBET, and the integration of a gender perspective into the planning and implementation of CBET.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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