Tourism development, community participation and community empowerment : the case of Shiraz in Iran

Hamedi, Maryam (2016) Tourism development, community participation and community empowerment : the case of Shiraz in Iran. Masters thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This research was an attempt to investigate the relationship between community empowerment and tourism development in the context of a developing country. Three objectives were identified as follows:

1) To examine the current nature and pattern of community participation in the tourism development process in Shiraz,
2) To assess and evaluate how community participation in Shiraz is affected by broader socio-political context and,
3) To investigate the existing level of community empowerment in relation to tourism development and evaluate contributory factors to empowerment and ascertain the nature and significance of any obstacles to empowerment.

This was a qualitative research and employed semi-structured interviews and participant observation as data collection techniques. The fieldwork took place from May 2013 to September 2013 in Shiraz in Iran. Drawing of analysis of the results of the primary research, the major findings of this research are as follows:

1) Tourism literature has not paid enough attention to the importance of the impact of power relations and prevailing socio-political conditions of different contexts on the tourism development process.
2) Tourism development in the context of developing countries is generally challenged by a set of operational and structural obstacles.
3) The study suggests that adopting a participatory approach could, economically and socially, contribute to community empowerment; however, it is not the final solution.
4) In the context of Iran and other developing countries with similar conditions, there is a need for a strong political power to adopt and implement participatory tourism development approach.
5) Analysis of the results indicates that the level of community participation is co-related to the level of community empowerment. In the case of Iran, participation via consultation could involve more tourism related stakeholders in the process of decision-making. At this level, the community enjoys the economic and social aspects of empowerment; however, an opportunity to influence the decisions regarding tourism development is still due.

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