Emancipation through socio-productive inclusion in Brazilian tourist destinations

Tasso, João Paulo; Fazito, Mozart; Elimar, Nascimento (2016). 'Emancipation through socio-productive inclusion in Brazilian tourist destinations' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

topics: Inclusion and Exclusion, Local Development and Communities, Inequality and Justice

abstract: Tourism has been employed by many developing countries to modernize non-industrialized regions. However, the introduction of tourism in fragile destinations may not make a significant contribution to mitigate poverty among small-scale rural producers, which in turn can lead to an increased social exclusion process. Tourism and development knowledge production lacks a thorough analysis of the obstacles that undermine effective participation of the local people in the economic benefits that tourism can generate and the impacts of these benefits on their emancipation. Small-scale fishermen and farmers, yet sometimes structured as collective organizations, receive low governmental incentives and have their traditional activities undervalued by the tourism entrepreneurs, becoming the targets of a production chain controlled by middlemen, which generates a process of social exclusion. The middlemen have bargaining power to acquire the products for very low prices from the local producers, and keep the profits from selling the products to the tourism enterprises, in a vicious cycle of economic dependency. This article aims to broaden the debates on the obstacles that undermine the achievement of socio-productive inclusion of small-scale rural producers in tourism destinations. The socio-productive inclusion aims at people's emancipation and autonomy, within the understanding of human development as the expansion of individual and instrumental freedoms. This process can be achieved by the strengthening community productive organizations, integrating the agents through work, and leading them to a decent life, as a primary condition for inclusive and endogenous human development. This article presents the case studies of two Brazilian tourist destinations: Jijoca de Jericoacoara and Barreirinhas, both located in Northeast Brazil. Data was collected through the completion of 136 semi-structured questionnaires by small, middle and large scale tourism entrepreneurs and collective organizations of small-scale producers, from both municipalities, seeking to assess factors that undermine the social-productive inclusion process. The identified factors were compared with those found in the literature, in a qualitative research process and critical analysis. Our results have demonstrated that five factors impact more on the socio-productive inclusion process within those tourist destinations: lack of regularity of products supply, low productivity, difficulties in transporting products, lack of technical and management skills, problems with hygiene regulation. These factors should be mitigated if the local governments choose to support social-productive inclusion. We champion that social-productive inclusion is important to promote a kind of local development that prioritize bottom-up endogenous development, whose aim goes beyond economic development and fosters the emancipation of local communities. Social-productive inclusion values local traditional activities, while emancipation emerges from the process because rather than being employed by an outsider enterprise, the local actors own their small-scale traditional farms and fisheries and get organized through collaboration among themselves. Socio-productive inclusion is underpinned by theories rooted in solidarity economy and fair trade, which defend that local small-scale producers should receive technical and legal support to strengthen their cooperative organizations in order to trade their products, in a just and ethical perspective of solidarity between them and the tourism industry. We conclude that such measures could contribute to an inclusive and sustainable tourism development.   

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