From Exploitation to Ownership: Wildlife- Based Tourism and Communal Area Conservancies in Namibia


  • Brian T.B. Jones


Prior to Namibia’s Independence in 1990 tourism on communal land in Namibia was dominated by white-owned businesses. Tourism brought little benefit to the people living on the communal land. They mostly had menial jobs as cleaners and gardeners or possibly as cooks. In 1996 the Namibian Government introduced legislation that gave communal area residents rights over wildlife and tourism on their land if they formed common property resource management institutions called conservancies. The conservancies have become central in the evolution of new institutional arrangements for community involvement in tourism. One of the main ways in which conservancies earn income is through “joint venture” tourism development in some form of partnership with the private sector. This chapter first considers the evolution of the conservancy institutional approach. It then compares different models of community involvement in tourism in relation to issues of community ownership, exposure to business risk and maximising income.