Revealing hidden attractions in a rural Kenyan periphery
Lacey, GT, Weiler, B & Peel, V 2014, 'Revealing hidden attractions in a rural Kenyan periphery', Tourism Geographies: an international journal of tourism space, place and environment, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 174-189.
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Tourism geographers have noted the tendency for enclaves to develop in attraction-rich tourism zones and population centres. The accumulation of tourism in such enclaves can act to limit the spread of benefits to the most impoverished regions and their inhabitants. This research addresses the question of whether peripheral regions can utilise the inherent motivations of specific types of tourists in order to reveal hidden attractions and build sustainable tourism. Within the frameworks of enclave theory and complex systems analysis, this case study of a charitable field project in Gatarakwa, Kenya, utilises qualitative approaches including in-depth interviews, blog analyses and participant observational research to examine whether a philanthropist-as-tourist model could reveal hidden attractions and spread the benefits of tourism beyond the enclaves. It was found that the philanthropists’ religious motivations, cultural drives and desire to experience poverty and to assist in its alleviation enabled their broader engagement with the largely experiential offerings of the peripheral region. This created an alternative tourist attraction at no cost to the local community and with no repatriation of profits to foreign investors. The programme also created transferable job skills and had the potential to generate income for local businesses. If managed accordingly, such projects can reveal the attractiveness of peripheral areas of other developing countries and so spread the benefits of tourism more equitably.