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TOURISM AND ITS ROLE IN CREATING SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD IN TIGRAI REGION [Abstract ID: 1212-07]
The study was conducted with the objective of examining the role of tourism in developing a sustainable livelihood in Tigrai region. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and a sample of three clusters were selected from the total five tourism clusters of the region. Particularly, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, a sample survey, and observation were used as research methods to gather primary data. The findings of the study revealed that the development of tourism in the study areas has been arrested by a number of intricate aborting factors like a lack of due attention from the government at all levels, lack of infrastructures and human capital, administrative factors, and lack of technology related to the sector. As a result, it was found that tourism falls short of helping members of the host community, especially poor households to build sustainable livelihoods. Besides, there is a differential distribution of wealth derived from tourism across different actors involved in the sector. Members of the host community are least benefited when compared to other actors like owners of hotels, restaurants, and other recreation establishments. When it comes to effectively utilizing the potentials of tourism, it was reported that despite the huge tourism potential the region is endowed with, there is an unaddressed issue in utilizing all assets of tourism in which much focus is given to the cultural aspects of tourism to the neglect of nature focused tourism assets. What is more, even the region's cultural heritage has not been promoted to the outside world as it ought to be. Apart from this, the involvement of the private sector in developing the tourism industry has been low. Finally, the study suggests that there is a need for a concerted effort by the government and other stakeholders such as the host community. Higher learning institutions, and the private sector, among others, need to design a comprehensive plan of intervention which identifies the bottlenecks that hinder the development of the sector as well as the remedies, so that the sustainable development of tourism can be achieved. Tourism would then enable the host communities to establish sustainable livelihoods, and the region would derive dynamic economic benefits from the sector.