Can Ecotourism be a Potential Development Tool to Improve Local Livelihoods of Indigenous Communities in Solomon Islands?
Developing tourism provides opportunities for indigenous people to utilise their natural resources, but various challenges can hinder tourism development. This study seeks to discover whether ecotourism can be a tourism tool to improve the livelihoods of indigenous communities in the Solomon Islands. An analysis of three ecotourism case studies aligned to different ecotourism categories of the Solomon Islands was undertaken, based on their proximity to marine resources and eco-friendly accommodation: the model of a cultural village with sustainable cultural practices, a nature park located inland and promoting conservation of the forest, flora and fauna and an ecolodge accommodation with dolphin attraction. The objective of this study was to identify the ecotourism benefits, barriers, and challenges faced by indigenous people utilising their natural resources in tourism businesses, and whether these improved their livelihoods. There is potential for indigenous participation in ecotourism, but there are many challenges, and a need to improve, upgrade their products and national strategies to respond to these, otherwise these ecotourism businesses will not succeed. Literature and data collected for this study were mainly from secondary sources; data were largely obtained from the literature and web scans. Future and more substantial research is needed targeting the key and critical issues faced by indigenous people. Including a wider assessment of other provinces, remote islands and businesses will provide a better in-depth understanding of challenges faced by indigenous people and an understanding of ecotourism products available that can be utilised in the Solomon Islands.