Public participation in tourism projects for sustainable development : the case of Malealea Lodge and Pony-trekking Centre, Lesotho.
The concept of public participation is one of the growing interests in development discourse. It is considered to be one of the valuable principles of sustainable development, because of its people-centred development approach world wide. The study examines the level of public participation in the Malealea Lodge and Pony Trekking Centre and whether the public participation procedures in the centre sustain the livelihood strategies of the Malealea community. The investigation of the level of participation is triggered by the notion that the centre presents itself as a "best community involvement programme." The study employed qualitative and quantitative methods. Interviews, observations and documentation were used for data collection. The background to the study presents levels of participation, the model for full public participation and techniques for appropriate participation, according to Pearce et al. (1996). The findings within this study show that from case studies and secondary data collected, one of the driving factors in the failure of tourism projects is the implementation of policies which stick to exploitative, outdated approaches to development. Some tourism development projects are still practising pseudo or partial participation, whilst supposedly practising full participation. This study includes the analysis of responses regarding the level of participation and perceptions of participation from both the community and lodge management. It shows the shortfalls of full participation in the Malealea Lodge and Pony Trekking Centre. The researcher concludes that the centre practices partial participation and recommends, in this project and other similar projects, some potential solutions to ensure full participation for sustainable community development. Some recommendations are that: there should be community consultation at all levels of development, employment contracts should be drawn on agreement of conditions of work between lodge owners and community members, training and re-training of different community groups, and local authorities should be capacitated with different skills, mainly facilitation and management skills. The LTDC should also ensure implementation of tourism policy.