Alternative Tourism as a Strategy for Sustainable Livelihood Diversification: The Case of Jalcomulco, Veracruz
Ecological and economic sustainability are intertwined. A mechanism frequently proposed for rural communities to advance economic development is to exploit local natural resources through the encouragement of eco-tourism, yet increased traffic and resources usage may overburden those same resources unless structural provisions and institutional reforms, particularly related to governance and compliance, are made. This study examines the impact of three fundamental changes on the lives of the people living in the small town of Jalcomulco, Veracruz: economic liberalization, rural land reform and the arrival of tourism. It is found that while the effects of economic liberalization and land tenure changes have not yet benefited the ejido, tourism has improved incomes, provided employment opportunities and drawn a range of outside influences to the town. Moreover, the transfer of business skills, of specific job skills and of differing worldviews are altering the lives of the local residents and offer livelihood diversification. Nevertheless, land use conflicts are straining social cohesion, and represent a challenge that remains unresolved.
Keywords: Ejido, Sustainability, Deveopment, Tourism
PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, University of Southern California