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Empowerment through friendship: A process view of community-based tourism

Abstract
This paper explores the ‘alternative’ empowerment roles of catalyst, facilitator and advocate in community-based tourism in the context of community development practice, drawing on findings from four community-based tourism (CBT) ethnographic case studies in Kenya. The paper uncovers the ‘friend’ or ‘neighbour’ relationship as a possible combination of these roles, proposing that the various roles may be points or positions in a continuum, a relationship that develops over time. Arguably, these roles could be realized between a community and an individual from within or outside the community. It is further proposed that understanding the roles and the relationships provides possibilities for community empowerment and sustainable community development within CBT settings. The findings point towards opportunities for the enhancement of empowerment, either driven by deliberate efforts of development practitioners or brought about in non-deliberate, organic manner through collaborative work of a wide range of actors. Research in this area has the potential to contribute towards understanding the processes through which sustainable community development and public social policies affecting communities can achieve global agendas such as poverty alleviation, partnerships and sustainability in what are considered marginal areas.
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