Assessing Local Communities Participation in Eco Tourism Activities around Mgahinga National Park
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ABSTRACT Eco tourism has been embraced world over because of its sustainability concept on which it runs and there its existence always presents a lot of opportunities for the local people therefore the local community’s participation in eco-tourism activities is very vital to the success or failure of any eco-tourism destination. This research was aimed at looking at the different activities that were existing in and around Mgahinga national park, assessing the benefits together with the challenges that hindered participation together with level of participation in eco-tourism activities. It was also aimed at looking at the level of participation thus including the park staff in research to provide a more detailed and deep understanding of the whole situation since they were always in contact with the local community. Data were collected concerning the aim of the research from the respondents and were later analyzed using SPSS and MS word. The results showed that the park authorities have various measures in place including laws and policies and strategies that encourage participation. The results further showed that there are various benefits that the locals get from the park which included employment opportunities, market for their produce, and other resources among other benefits. The benefits were also further highlighted as the major motivations to engage in eco-tourism activities in Mgahinga national park. The research carried out therefore found out that there were various activities that the park presents for the local community to engage in but also the researcher found out there were existing gaps that existed that hindered community participation in these activities therefore there was need to bridge this gap in order to create a win-win situation there by increasing local community’s participation.