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10456 - Tourism and Social Inequalities in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua the invasion of residential and enclave tourism investments have caused privatizing of the coastal areas, environmental degradation and social exclusion of the local communities. Consequently this has led to a growing tendency of looking for alternative forms of tourism development. During the last decade many small, rural communities around Nicaragua have sought to combine economic growth with social and environmental sustainability through community-based tourism. However, even supposedly sustainable models of tourism development have not altered local communities’ standpoint from objects of tourism to controllers and beneficiaries of tourism.

The starting point here is that sustainable tourism development cannot take place without social justice and active local participation. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the interconnections of tourism, poverty and social exclusion in Nicaragua by asking how official tourism policies and practices address social inequalities in Nicaragua . This study draws attention to the well-being of those being visited by bringing together interdisciplinary schools of cultural studies of tourism and studies of development. This approach is used in order to move focus from economic growth towards human values in tourism worlds.

This paper draws on author’s recent empirical research made on the socially inclusive tourism initiatives in Nicaragua, and on wider theoretical discussions on the global tendencies of tourism development. The study contributes in building bridges between theory and practice by providing more holistic approaches for planning, implementing and evaluating responsible tourism development.

Keywords: tourism, social exclusion, Nicaragua, poverty

Author: Hockert, Emily (University of Helsinki, Finland, Sweden / Schweden)

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