Spatial Analysis of Tourism Income Distribution in the Accommodation Sector in Western Uganda

Type Journal Article - Tourism and Hospitality Research
Title Spatial Analysis of Tourism Income Distribution in the Accommodation Sector in Western Uganda
Volume 14
Issue 1-2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 8-26
In the ongoing debate on the connection between tourism and poverty alleviation, tourism is often presented as a tool for poverty alleviation and the improvement of socio-economic conditions of rural communities in developing countries. Findings of prior research suggest that nature-based tourism has a positive impact; however, existing models tend to understate the spatial differentiation of impacts in different contexts. Little is known about the spatial range and scale of the benefits from tourism development at a certain location. Previous studies have shown that employment in accommodation facilities is responsible for the largest share of pro-poor impact in Ugandan tourism. This paper focuses on the spatial dimension of the impact of employment in the tourism accommodation sector on the local livelihoods, with nature-based tourism around Kibale National Park (KNP) in western Uganda as a case study. Semi-structured interviews with employees were undertaken to delineate the geographical sphere of influence (SoI) of tourism employment in the accommodation sector. Results show that tourism accommodations recruit from a small geographical sphere of influence (5–10 km) in rural settings, while in urbanized settings the sphere of influence is larger (30–40 km). Understanding spatial differences of the distribution of tourism benefits in developing countries can lead to better informed policies on poverty alleviation. Policies to promote tourism as a poverty alleviation strategy have shown some successes, but there is a danger that the spatial scale of the impact is smaller than anticipated. Furthermore, for more than 80% of households, tourism is the principal source of income. In addition, tourism employment can provide initial capital for supplementary activities, which gain in importance to the extent that their profits surpass the income from tourism employment. Tourism employment does not represent a final perspective but a stage for gathering resources and skills.

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