Effective Local Community Participation for Sustainable Tourism Development in Rural Destinations: A Case Study of Misfat Al-Abryeen and Muql Villages, Sultanate of Oman

Al Mashrafi, Said Khalfan Salim
(2022) Effective Local Community Participation for Sustainable Tourism Development in Rural Destinations: A Case Study of Misfat Al-Abryeen and Muql Villages, Sultanate of Oman. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Socioeconomic activities, particularly tourism development, are recognised as a main economic driver worldwide, including in the Sultanate of Oman, where economic diversification strategies are being adopted to reduce the contribution of oil and gas revenues to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Government of Oman has taken important measures to increase the potential of tourism across the country, especially in rural areas, to capitalise on the country’s unique natural resources and cultural treasures and, in the process, to encourage the participation of local communities. This study demonstrates that tourism operations in rural destinations of Oman, mainly in the villages of Misfat Al-Abryeen and Muql, are not entirely effective to conserve resources, achieve wellbeing among the local residents or improve the tourist experience. This ineffectiveness is attributed to inadequate and insufficient local participation, resulting in increased migration of local youths to the capital and major cities in search of better livelihoods, a diminished sense of belonging among the locals and a lack of authenticity in the experiences of tourists. This research reviews the existing literature on citizens’ participation in different socioeconomic activities, including the tourism industry, to develop a methodological framework to examine the nature of local participation in the Omani context. Using the participatory approach, this study engages with relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as local residents in the studied villages, through qualitative research methods. The literature review, combined with an analysis and interpretation of primary data, shows that the Government of Oman has viewed local communities as key partners in the development of the state since the 1970s. This development has been built around offering equal educational opportunities to all, with involving citizens in decision-making processes. However, a lack of awareness, training and funding, combined with inadequate plans, have limited the participation of the local population in tourism development initiatives in the studied villages, thus highlighting the need for practical measures to be implemented that support these initiatives and strengthen the ability of the local community to use their natural and cultural resources for tourism purposes. Hence, this research establishes a practical methodological framework to maximise the involvement of the local community in a more sustainable management of their assets, both tangible and intangible. The aim of the framework is to link locals with their assets, enhance the inclusion of locals, strengthen their self-esteem and sense of ownership, build economic self-sufficiency and engage them in a cultural dialogue with tourists by offering a range of authentic natural and cultural products. At the national level, the framework is expected to help reduce the migration of locals, especially young people, by encouraging them to invest in their resources and promote Oman as a tourist destination. Furthermore, this framework will contribute to the Oman Tourism 2040 Strategy and Oman 2040 Vision by providing practical steps for developing rural destination areas, developing the capacities of the host communities and contributing to the stake of knowledge at the national and global level.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 08:00
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 01:30
DOI: 10.17638/03151350
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3151350