Is tourism the beginning or the end? Livelihoods of Georgian mountain people at stake

Gvantsa Salukvadze, Norman Backhaus
This study is an attempt toempirically understand thetransformation of rootedlivelihoods after the arrival oftourism in the GreaterCaucasus. A case-specificmethodology combiningqualitative and geographicinformation methods enabled us to identify 4 types of tourism-ledlivelihood change: (1) expanding nonagricultural activities;(2) reducing agricultural activities; (3) developing agritourismactivities; and (4) increasing agricultural activities. Broad spatialcoverage ensured that the data
more » ... d were representative. Thefindings indicate that although tourism growth has increased theneed for supplementary services, only a few local residents havemanaged to develop tourism-related nonagricultural activities. Weargue that mountain residents see opportunities from tourismmainly in agriculture and hosting tourists. However, relatively fewof them actually expanded their agricultural activities in responseto tourism's increased demand for agricultural products, as severalbarriers (lack of human resources, modern technology, andfinances) hindered other residents from taking this opportunity. Asour study reveals, households with traditional livelihoods mostoften replaced their agricultural activities, investing all theirresources in developing tourism-related livelihoods instead. Otherscreated added value from their integrated agriculture-and tourism-based livelihoods by providing visitors with locally made products.In addition to these findings on trends in livelihood changes, thestudy also provides an understanding of households' economicpriorities. We hope the new insights surrounding tourism-ledlivelihood shifts will spark a debate on how people cope with therapid spread of tourism in the Georgian mountains.
doi:10.5167/uzh-193340 fatcat:inugpmnsifddvgvrme7zdbpoea