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Royal Anthropological Institute / Development Studies Association Tourism Research Seminars: Theme – Mass Tourism


Gaining access to tourist markets: female craft producers in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Dr Dorothea Meyer, Sheffield Hallam University

Monday 29 February at 5.30 pm


Tourism accounts for 40% of all international arrivals into less economically developed countries (LEDCs) and offers a huge potential for building connectivity between people across radically different social and economic settings. Women represent 70% of the world’s poor. The majority of women in LEDCs work in the informal sector, in small, unregistered enterprises. The craft sector is the second largest employer, after agriculture, in many LEDCs. It represents an opportunity for women to earn a living and support families and communities. Craft production usually doesn’t require literacy, but practical skills that are passed between generations. Making jewellery, drawing on local traditions, and sharing these with visitors can be an important source of social and economic empowerment for women.

The potential for inter-sectoral linkages between arts/crafts production and tourism are considerable. Approximately 44% of Zanzibar’s GDP and 75% of Foreign Exchange Earnings are dependent on tourism, making it the mainstay of the Zanzibari economy.  While tourists buy souvenirs to retain affective connectivity to the place and people they visited less than 20% of crafts are produced locally.
The effective enhancement of the skills base, product design, entrepreneurship and, consequently, access to markets is prevented by among others: restricted knowledge and information transfer between producers and markets; socio-cultural barriers; and restricted access to enabling infrastructure (credit, logistics, technology).

Zanzibar is also strongly dependent on donor aid and the implementation of externally designed and operated projects that seek to encourage greater integration of females into the tourism value chain. This creates a complex situation of power relationships, both globally and locally.

This presentation explores the barriers facing female artisanal craft producers seeking to connect to the tourism industry in Zanzibar. A particular focus is given to power relations using examples of foreign funded and led development projects. It reports on the findings of a recent project that used social network analysis and net-mapping to detect and analyse these complex power relations.


Dr Dorothea Meyer is Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research focuses on tourism as a tool for poverty reduction in less economically developed countries (LEDCs). She is particularly interested in the political economy of tourism development and the resulting power relations. Prior to joining SHU in 2004 she worked for the Overseas Development Institute’s Pro-Poor Tourism team.


This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to http://dorotheameyer.eventbrite.co.uk