Current Urban Studies
2013. Vol.1, No.3, 36-47
Published Online September 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Rapid Assessment of Tourism Impacts through Community
Participation—A Pilot Study in Cuba for Projecting
New Strategies of Management
Manuel Ramón González Herrera1, Mabel Font Aranda2
1Department of T ourism, Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez , Ciudad Juárez, México
2Department of T ourism, University of Matanzas, Matanzas, Cuba
Received June 3rd, 2013; revised July 15th, 2013; ac cepted Ju ly 22nd, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Manuel Ramón González Herrera, Mabel Font Aranda. This is an open access article distrib-
uted under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and repro-
duction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The report of the Rapid Assessment of tourism impacts through community participation is presented,
based on a pilot study in Cuba to project new strategies of management. The purpose of this study is to
develop a methodology to identify how tourism affects social organization in communities, in order to
consider different policy implications and management options, at the same time, to conduct comparative
studies to monitor vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of social and health-promoting policies. This pro-
ject brings together researchers and community representatives from Cárdenas and Caibarién, two coastal
communities in Cuba, to examine how the expansion of tourism in these communities directly and/or in-
directly affects them. In relation to the general objective a conceptual framework is elaborated to explain
pathways that link the impacts of tourism and the policies that influence them across their lifespan. A
consensus is developed on indicators and research/measurement protocols based on a comprehensive re-
view of existing evidence on these issues. A preliminary agreement is also promoted according to the po-
licy implications and policy options of insights that can be gained regarding the impacts of tourism on lo-
cal communities among policy-makers, researchers and community leaders.
Keywords: Tourism; Impacts; Community; Participation; Cuba
To investigate the impact of tourism on local communities, it
was decided that examination of how a specific global pheno-
menon can affect a specific community would provide useful
insights (González, 2010) and help to assess the support of com-
munity residents for sustainable tourism development (Tsung,
2013; Kila, 2013). In this context, selection of a pilot study of
how a Cuban community could be affected by the impacts of
tourism development was identified as the focal point for the
Globalization and Social Organization research program’s first
pilot study.
Travel and tourism in particular, as a form of entertainment
or leisure has a long history leading up to the 20th century when
tourism developed into a multibillion dollar industry (Legrand,
2012) that spans virtually all countries, at the local, national and
international levels (Edgell, 2013). Faster and more affordable
air travel has contributed to more people reaching more remote
places and with them their luggage of impacts on the local com-
munities (Cooper, 2007).
The more recent world expansion of tourism has been largely
attributed to the phenomenon of globalization (Spiegel & An-
druske, 2005). As the capitalist-free marketideology promotes
privatization and deregulation with subsequent increased move-
ment of capital, goods and people, some immediate outcomes
are commodification of services and expansion of markets that
encompass all areas including tourism.
The purpose of this pilot project is to develop a methodology
for identifying how global forces affect social organization and
health in communities; so that policy implications and options
can be considered and comparative studies conducted to moni-
tor vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of social and health-
promoting policies. Bringing together researchers and commu-
nity representatives from Cárdenas and Caibarién, this project
examines how the expansion of tourism in coastal communiti-
es-directly and indirectly-aff e cts local commun it ies.
In relation to it, the general research objectives are to:
Develop a conceptual framework to explain pathways that
link the impact of tourism (and the policies that influence
this) to direct and indirect effects on the local communities
across the lifespan (through impacts on social organization).
Develop consensus on indicators and research/measurement
protocols based on a comprehensive review of existing evi-
dence on these issues, results from previous studies in which
our team has been involved, and especially the original field
research conducted in Cuba.
Develop preliminary consensus on the policy implications
and policy options of insights that can be gained regarding
the impacts of globalization on local communities among
policy-makers, researchers and community leaders.
Why Coastal Communities? In many ways, coastal commu-
nities are especially vulnerable to the pressures of tourism de-
velopment, and can serve as sentinels. The spatial, natural re-
source and ecological characteristics that have shaped their de-
velopment historically (e.g. fishing, forestry) make them diffe-
rentially subject to global changes (e.g. the primary resources
exploitation previously favored can be threatened by ecological
changes and global competition; while their “aesthetic settings”
become global commodities as transportation technologies have
evolved to support increases in people flows).
Why Tourism? Tourism, which has grown significantly since
the late 80s, is today considered by many to be the world’s big-
gest business. It brings together people from different parts of
the globe on a massive scale and has significant impacts on po-
litical, cultural, social, economic and environmental conditions
of the communities in which it is developed-all factors, which
in turn have an impact on health.
While tourism can boost hard currency receipts, heavy infra-
structure investment eats up resources that could be used else-
where and often replaces one “single-crop” economy for an-
other. Moreover, the benefits of tourism are not always evenly
distributed. Tourism may lead to increased social, class and
gender differentiation. Employment created in the community
may be predominantly in low status, low paid and temporary
jobs. Tourism can stimulate prostitution, sexually transmitted
disease, drugs, alcohol and other community-disruptive behav-
iors and values. Furthermore, tourism development may lead to
reduced access for local people to the natural resources on
which they depend for their livelihoods and drive up the costs
of land, food, manufactured goods and housing.
Why Gender and Health? An extensive literature shows that
structural economic change affects women’s and men’s roles
differently, with policies associated with “economic globaliza-
tion” having a more negative impact on women and girls rela-
tive to men and boys, with women experiencing higher risks of
poverty, domestic violence, and sexually transmitted diseases;
and less access to health-related services overall. Applying a
gender-based analysis (GBA) to examine the differential, yet
interconnected, impacts of tourism expansion on men and wo-
men in coastal communities thus provides a highly appropriate
prism for assessing the impacts of globalization.
Literature Review
In order to achieve a consequent socio-economic develop-
ment, with the protection of the environment and in harmony
with the life quality of local communities (Lankford, 2013), it
is necessary to project strategic actions directed to minimize the
adverse incidences of the current models and development styl-
es in the environmental quality states of our planet (Mason,
2008; Guevara et al., 2009; González, 2010; Gössling, 2012).
In this sense, effects generated by new human activities have
become a permanent demand of society, because of their inci-
dences in the natural, social and economic environment (Hall et
al., 2003; Busch et al., 2005). In this respect, the paradigm of
sustainable development constitutes a component of great im-
portance whose analysis derives in indispensable condition to
optimize the relationships between the receiving environment
and different types of sociocultural and productive activities
(Arcarons, 2005; Kila et al., 2013).
The analysis of this conception related to development rea-
ches special connotation in the case of tourism, for the multiple
and complex interactions that it generates with receiver envi-
ronmental systems (Fernández, 2002; Edgell, 2013). Particular
significance acquires this relationship in the geographical con-
text of the tropical island systems, where a wide investor pro-
gram takes place, with tendencies to increase (González, 2010).
So; sustainable tourism development represents a challenge and
the only alternative for new investment projects, as requirement
to manage the Environmental, Sociocultural and Economic Im-
pacts (Ayala, 2001; Organización Mundial de Turismo, 2005;
Hall C., 2009).
Without doubts, the integrated administration of impacts of
tourism is a viable focus for the strategic positioning of differ-
ent geographical spaces as Sustainable Tourism Areas (Osácar
& Vilaginés, 2005). Tourism, like a factor of development de-
mands of regional and local strategies that promote the imple-
mentation of Responsible Tourism Systems based on handling
of impacts; with the purpose of minimize those of adverse cha-
racter and to maximize the beneficent ones (CITMA, 2005;
González, 2012; Harris, 2011). Under such focuses, it is oppor-
tune to guide the evaluation of current and future developments
in function of quality of tourist destinations, based on the prin-
ciples of sustainable development.
In this respect, it is necessary to follow promoting instru-
ments of integrated management of impacts with the purpose to
pass from the stage of correction solutions to preventive ones
(González, 2010). This focus is incorporated to the multi-crite-
ria decision making process like a requirement for the formula-
tion of compatible environmental projects (Francesc Valls, 2004).
That shows us that in the last decades new focuses have ap-
peared for interpretation of relationships between human beings
and their environment.
Frameworks trying to establish links between globalization
and local communities have been developed in the last 20 years
and, although there is a concurrence about their complexity and
consequently the evaluation of the linkages, there is also con-
currence about the fact that such links do exist and need to be
addressed in order to mitigate the negative impacts (Labonte &
Torgerson, 2002; Spiegel et al., 2004; Huynen et al., 2005;
Leigh, 2012; Ivars et al., 2013;).
The impact of tourism on communities has also been widely
recognized and more direct links have been established in par-
ticular at the local level (Cohen, 1984; Taylor, 1993; Freitag,
1996; Stonich, 2000; Josep & Kavoori, 2001; González, 2006;
Kila et al., 2013). Similarly, the impact on other aspects is
widely documented and acknowledged as in the hidden market
of “sex tourism” (Wonders & Michalowski, 2001), while the
human resources for the industry are channelled along clear
gender lines and community impacts can be similarly differen-
Cuba has not been exempt from the rising impacts of global-
ization (INIE, 2005). In fact, Cuba has been a significant, if
somewhat belated player in the growth of the tourism sector
with almost two million tourists visiting the country in 2005
mostly from Canada, Spain and other European countries. The
collapse of the main trade partner, the Soviet Union, in 1989
forced Cuba to redesign its economic development by embrac-
ing tourism as the principal source of hard currency with 40%
of the national revenues in recent years.
The almost overnight transition from sugar cane producer to
service provider has presented Cuba with a few challenges not
only in the economic arena, but in the political arena as well.
Suddenly Cuba became exposed to “foreign” influences associ-
ated with the greater “global integration” of an expanded tour-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 37
ism sector that produced new challenges to forms of distinct
social organization that had produced significant achievements
in health, education and culture “on the margins” of an increas-
ingly integrated processes of globalization (Spiegel et al.,
Accepting the inevitability of tourism and its influence, Cu-
ba’s strategy has been to respond with its own innovative and
social approach: 1) a tourism that is sustainable, and 2) policies
that mitigate the negative impacts of tourism. Ultimately these
two prongs are complementary and self-supporting. For in-
stance, one aspect of sustainable tourism has been the commu-
nity participation, through notable community members, in re-
cognizing and managing solutions to health, cultural and envi-
ronmental problems (Cabrera, 2004; González, 2006).
Significantly, Cuba has refused to accept one of the premises
of globalization that is the diminished role of the State. On the
contrary, government policies have played a major role in off-
setting the negative outcomes of tourism on health specifically
and other areas such as loss of local identity and values, eco-
nomic migration of people, cultural clashes, economic inequal-
ity, job level friction, shifts in nutrition, crime generation, and
prostitution and sex tourism.
Reflecting on Cuba’s approach, our research has undertaken
a pilot study that has developed methods for a more systematic
analysis of impacts. There is no doubt that tourism is a health
determinant. A conceptual framework that links the impact of
tourism development on health has been built. This work has
been reported elsewhere (Jerry et al., 2006). What seems to be
elusive is a process that is able to systematically and rapidly
gauge the nature and the extent of the impacts.
This paper describes a methodology (Figure 1), that is able
to gather and process information related to key questions ad-
dressed in the pilot study:
Can the links between tourism development and impacts be
systematical ly identified b y the comm u ni ty ?
Are the tourism impacts different at different stages of
tourism development?
Can comprehensive qualitative and quantitative indicators
be identified that might tell the tale of the “real” impact?
Can both men and women be adequately represented by the
Can mitigating policy measures for protecting and promot-
ing development be identified?
Can the findings be applied to a wider global community?
Two communities in Cuba at different stages of tourism de-
velopment have been chosen as the backdrop for the method-
ology: Cárdenas, an established tourism site and Caibarién, a
new tourist development, both described below.
For this pilot project the main goal has been to gain broad
knowledge about the relationships between globalization, tour-
ism and impacts in the context of coastal communities. The
outcome is a methodology for identifying how global forces
affect social organization and wellbeing in communities, so that
policy implications and options can be considered and compa-
rative studies conducted to monitor vulnerabilities and the ef-
fectiveness of health-promoting policies. The main features of
the methodology are community participation and rapid assess-
ment of impacts for decision-makers.
It has been selected the combination of team meetings, lit-
erature review, focus groups, key informant interviews, and re-
view of secondary data (i.e. rapid assessment technique—ra-
ther than the conducting of household surveys or more exten-
sive ethnographic study methods). The center piece of the me-
thodology was a series of focus groups and key informant in-
terviews to outline concerns, perceptions and observations re-
lated to tourism development.
The step-by-step methodology:
1) Meetings in Caibarién and Cárdenas
These meetings provided the venue for key informants’ inter-
views, ensured cooperation by community leaders, engaged in
further dialogue about the constructs, gained further back-
ground information about the community, and planed the de-
tails of the rapid assessment field work.
2) Definition of composition of focus groups (Appendix 1)
The research team planned four focus groups in each com-
munity ensuring a comprehensive coverage of the main stake-
holders or people involved. These were decision-makers, com-
munity at large, health related workers and tourism related wor-
3) Preparation of the script for the focus groups (Appendix
2) The script was used as a guide for the line of questioning of
the focus groups facilitators.
4) Field research in Caibarién and Cárdenas
Focus groups were conducted with prior cooperation of key
people in order to ensure participation. In each community the
four focus groups were conducted simultaneously with duration
of hour and a half each. The field work in the two communities
was one month apart.
5) Transcription and revision of focus groups information
This step focused on determining the comprehensiveness of
the information.
6) In-depth interviews
This step was used to complement information that might
have been missed in the focus groups.
7) Analysis and summary of information
A matrix of impacts and dimensions (including mitigating
policies/factors) for both communities was developed for a
quick comparativ e an alysis.
8) Feedback meeting
This is an important step that provides feedback to those who
participated in any of the focus groups; at the same time it seeks
additional information. It is particularly important that deci-
sion-makers are informed of the information gathered. This
feedback meeting could adjust the results of the previous steps
according to the opinion of the participants.
9) Identification of indicators
The qualitative information obtained to this point was ma-
tched to indicators that are routinely collected by the National
Statistics Office. A form was developed to document details of
the indicators such as source, availability, etc.
10) Data analysis
This final step allows for the establishment, verification and
evaluation of the impacts of tourism on local communities.
Results and Discussion
Context of the Study
For the development of this study, two coastal communities
have been selected, Cárdenas an Caibarién. Here are the most d
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 39
Focus group s
Determine composition and number of focus groups
Develop s cripts
Train facilitators and rapporteurs
Perform focus groups; tape discussions
Transcribe a nd sum marize focus g r oups information
Identify “gaps” and key informants for in-depth interviews
In-depth interviews
Process and synthesize information
Feedback meetings/workshop with
Develop outline for interv iews
Perform interviews with key informants
Consult experts not part of the study, local government reps and organiza-
tions reps. Process additiona l information.
Identify social dimension
Develop matrix of perce ived tourism im pacts by social dimension
Identify and list mitigating policies and programs
Report to the community about key findings
Seek consensus on findings and ascertain next steps for decision making
Adjust the results of the previous steps
Identify factors, dimensions and indi-
cators; develop table of indicators by
Design form for collection of indica-
tors; define protocol and unit of mea-
Information gathering on communities bei ng studied: strategies of tourism development and environmental
Community characterization: spatial, socio-demographic, tourism, environment and health
Identification of the tourism development model, pressures and vulnerable sectors
Assessment of the state of change generated by the development model
Identification of impacts dimensions and risk factors
Figure 1.
Structure of the proposed methodological process for the analysis of impacts of tourism on coastal communities.
significantly influenced the city’s municipal development and
on social and economic levels. Cárdenas has around 100,000
residents and a population density of 169 people per square ki-
lometer. Eighty-one percent of the territory’s population lives
in the city itself.
important char acteristics identified.
The municipality of Cárdenas has an area of 564.89 km2
which represents 14.8% of the Matanzas province, and 0.5% of
the area of Cuba (Figure 2). The manufacturing, service and tourism industries constitute
the fundamental economic activities that have been developed
in the territory. The main extractive businesses in the area are
the Drilling Company and the Petroleum Centre, which produce
more than half of the total petroleum extraction in the country
and about 70% of the natural gas production. The environmen-
tal condition in Cárdenas is marked by various environmental
problems which may or may not be linked to tourism develop-
ment in Varadero. According to the Municipal Environmental
The area is defined to the north by the width of Florida and
the municipality of Varadero. To the south, east and west, Cár-
denas is bordered by Jovellanos, Limonar, Martí and Matanzas
Cárdenas has a particularly advantageous geographical loca-
tion because of its proximity to Varadero and Havana, the two
most important locations for tourism in the country. This has
Strategy (CITMA, 2005), the municipality’s environmental pro-
blems are: contamination of ground and sea water, dete ri orat ion
of sanitary hygiene conditions, lack of education, decreased en-
vironmental consciousness, deforestation, soil degradation, and
loss of biodiversity.
The municipality of Caibarién has an area of 212.2 km2. It is
located to the northeast of Villa Clara province, a location that
has facilitated its economic and social development. It contains
the coastal zone and an insular area where the small cays Las
Brujas, Ensenachos and Santa María are known for their spec-
tacular natural beauty. The cays have been attached to the
mainland since 1994 by approximately 48 km of highway built
above the sea. The highway, or Pedraplén, unites the insular
zone, which was recently developed for tourism, with the coa-
stal city of Caibarién (Figure 3).
Caibarién has a population of 40,798, of which 20,118 are
male and 20,690 are female. The population density is 148.89
people per square kilometer. Most of this population, 92 per-
cent or 37,555 people, live in urban settlements. The population
is predominantly adult and has a low growth rate and negative
immigration rate. The structure of the local political administra-
tion is based on 7 popular councils, 3 of which are urban, 1 is
suburban and 3 are rural.
Figure 2.
Typical building in Cárdenas city, Matanzas.
Figure 3.
Mar Azul beach, Caibarién, Villa Clara.
Caibarién has experienced important structural transforma-
tions in its traditional economy throughout history, which has
been the cause of various social impacts. The port development
failed in 1930 and the sugar industry ended in 2002 when the
“Marcelo Salado” plant closed down under the new national de-
velopment strategies. The plant was subsequently converted in-
to the Agro-industry Museum while residents were forced to
develop other economic activities. Nevertheless, the primary
economic sector in the urban setting remained linked to the
fishing and the service industries. Then, in the early 1990s, the
city reopened to international tourism. Tourism proceeded to
become an important local economic activity. It now takes
place in the glorious beaches along the coastal cays, more than
50 km from Caibarién.
Caibarién’s geographical location positions it as the primary
source of labor for the tourism industry. Caibarién’s cultural
component complements the beach aspect of tourism in the
region. It is expected that because of this additional attraction
the interaction between tourists and hosts will increase. Caiba-
rién is integrated as a tourist sub-region within the Villa Clara
tourist area. It includes three beach resorts, Santa María Cay,
Ensenachos Cay, and Las Brujas Cay, and one urban site (the
The resorts and the urban area complement each other and
form a tourist attraction that has more than just the beach com-
ponent. Currently, Caibarién does not have the capacity to lo-
dge national and international tourists. The actual accommoda-
tion infrastructure consists of one hotel, five private hostels and
rustic tourist villas, as well as some guesthouses. In comparison,
the coastal cays offer an ample and very comfortable infra-
structure with enormous potential for hotel development.
Results of the Focus Groups
Results obtained primarily from focus groups in Cárdenas
and Caibarién, and also enriched by other sources according to
the methodology, provide a broad view of perceived impacts of
tourism (Figures 4 and 5).
Economic Impacts
Most participants in the focus groups recognized the impor-
tance of tourism for its national and local economy. The fol-
Figure 4.
Focal group in Cárdenas city, Matanzas.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Figure 5. p in Caibarién city, Villa Clara.
wing are some of the major issues that were identified
nomic strategy in order
ated locally in diff
salaries. se in the touris
ontributes to the development of social and
e countr
Impacts on Labor
ing from the health and education sectors
ther areas
rom work (in tourism); important to k
ifferent shifts
Cultural Impacts
have been seen largely as positive
vel of
incentives to preserve and improve
Educational Impacts
er educational and professional level
professionals seek jobs
going to high school (Cárdenas).
Social Impacts
of tourism on the community were perhaps
contributes to a higher standard of living in general
re stable and permanent now in Cai-
prostitution—and increased STDs—as well as
gal activities (Cárdenas)
Cárdenas—some illegal e-
arn more and have increased
ity lifestyle changes; someone said: “Everything
ther cultures produces a change in behavior
urism is the main goal of youth.
Impact on Women
ore employment for women and more
Impact on Family
family; parents working in the tourism
ifts; this prevents
Focal grou
lo from for the community.
The community is mo
the discussions in the focus groups:
Tourism has been used as an eco to barién; there is a beginning of a process of attraction of po-
pulation from other areas to this Municipality
Better housing—although mostly for tourism w
increase the overall economic level of the country. Tourism
appears to have a multiplier effect.
As a consequence, more jobs are creerent Negative:
manufacturing and service sectors, especially for yout h and
women; less unemployment.
Workers have higher wages and
Higher family income, especially for thom
more drug consumption in Cárdenas; this is not perceived
as a problem in Caibarién
Increased corruption and ille
Tourism ceco- Increased immigration towards
nomic programs in the country and the Municipality; the
health and educational sectors have been sustained and even
strengthened with the revenues from tourism.
It represents the largest source of revenue for thy.
consumption and access to more goods; they also have pre-
ferential treatment as better and assu re d transp o rt a ti o n.
Barriers to get to tourist areas [this is also considered a
More housing and better infrastructure in the community.
Although it was acknowledged that tourism contributes to th
velopment of other economic sectors, a negative impact on t he
economy was identified as the disappearance of the fishing in-
dustry typical of coastal communities.
Work force is shift
to the tourism sector (Cárdenas)
More job opportunities for youth
Better working conditions in tourism
Less protection by union regulations
Competing work force coming from o
Long work hours
A lot of pressure feep women work in the tourism sector; this has created prob-
lems where men used to be the main provider (Caibarién).
Increased prostitution; some people entice the tourists to
the job to support the family
Husband and wife may have d
Impacts on culture if
anging diet and fashion is not considered in this dimension.
Comments about tourism can be grouped as follows:
It provides the awareness to raise the cultural lethe sector provide less care to their children.
Husband and wife may have different sh
community in areas such as languages, history and local
and national traditions.
It is a way of creating
the cultural heritage as well as to promote the local culture
and traditions.
People achieve a high
through special courses that provide them with higher train-
ing in areas of tourism services.
On the other hand, many university
in the tourist sector, “even washin g dishes”, in order to make
more money.
Fewer students
Social impacts
e most widely discussed by participants in the focus groups.
Deterioration of social values
Increased social disparity among Cubans—particularly n
gative for young people.
Workers in the tourism sector e
tigating factors that regulates the relationship between tour-
ists and Cubans in hotels in order to prevent spread of
hanges.” Eating/diet habits, dressing fashion, friendships
have broken.
Exposure to o
and taste.
Work in to
It has generated m
seek women (Cárdenas); no prostitution in Caibarién.
Physical work is heavier for women.
Less time for the
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 41
them from spending time together (Cárdenas).
Some families have split.
More separations and divorces.
Inter Sectorial and Social Cohesion
sector and other
activities and tourism
lved (community
he police to ensure safety of tourists
ial cohesion: “there are no outcasts; they all
Political Impacts
been recognized by decision
gilant” particularly in relation
s a way to show Cuban society and what we do
Environmental Impacts
t care of the environment; ga
r volume of solid waste; as a result,
Health Impacts
ge bins and garbage trucks; more frequent gar-
althy environm
a problem (C
ers in tourism have vaccine shots and other tests
rkers have some more privileges than health
importing exotic diseases already eradicated
revalence of hypertension, pelvic problems and ex-
sity, cerebral-vascular diseases, heart attacks, arthriti
er for women—long hours standing:
exually transmitted diseases (STD); 60% of
hape, getting massages,
a psychological impact on people.” to satisfy
related stress
dictions (Cárdenas—no problem in Caibarién)
Mitigating Policies
r strategies have been mentioned by all
unity committees with a large representation have
use and addiction
: “My nice home
for the protection of the
tourists and Cubans
oblems (Cai-
ntrol illegal immigration into the municipality
tation for children and youth to guide them
rch pro-
” with health professionals com-
rom the grass roots
Rey”, “Adolescencia
Discussion of the Results
This pilot stugy for a rapid
tions of participants were active and in-
Lack of coordination between tourism sec- Alcoholism
tors (decision-makers in Caibarién).
No links between some municipal
activities (decision-makers in Caibarién).
All sectors of the community are invo
group in Caibarién).
Need to work with t
Stronger soc
look for the community well-being.” (Caibarién).
Tourism worker has less contact with larger society.
As a driving force tourism has b
makers and community members of Caibarién as a chal-
lenge to the ideology.
“People need to be vi to Early warning system to detect exotic diseases
Tourism i. A program to discuss environmental health
Increased awareness abourbage environment and the coast specifically
Regulation of the relationship between
is not dumped everywhere—some areas give a poor impres-
sion to tourists
There is a large Cár- Deployment of social workers for general pr
denas has a new solid waste processing plant
More garba o
bage collection; more control of vectors
Broader view of health that includes a heent to enter professions that are needed in the country
University involvement in development and resea
“People are more aware about health.”
Better sanitation but water supply still árde- jects for the municipality
Weekly “System meetings
Work as munity and political leader (Caibarién)
Continued effort in ideological work f
Tourism wo
Fear of in
level to stop the impact of tourism on youth and the com-
munity; neighborhood meetings called “Barrio debate”
(Neighborhood debates) (Caibarién)
Community programs: “Jardines del
Cuba (cholera, vector-borne)
Higher p F
posure to disinfectants and cleaners among tourism work-
high cholesterol level
Physical work is heavi
more propensity to back problems, pelvic problems and va-
ricose veins
Danger of s
HIV + cases are related to tourism
More concern about keeping in s
green medicine, better diet, reduction in smoking
“Tourism has
“Psychological impact is manifest in the difficulty
material needs for those who do not work in the tourist sec-
Drug use; ad
Some families have become dysfunctional
A series of policies o
cus groups that have been implemented in order to mitigate
the negative impacts of tourism on the community. Some by
area of concern are:
een developed for the prevention and control of HIV and
STDs; extensive use of media
Continued diagnostic about drug
Epidemiological surveillance for vectors
& my healthy home” (Caibarién)
Strategies at the municipal level
in hotels in order to prevent spread of STDs
Deployment of physicians in all tourist hotels
Policy to co
f Cárdenas
Vocational orien
eliz” and others for seniors and housing (Caibarién)
Workshops with workers to discuss job and social con
dy proposes a practical methodolo
mmunity-based assessment of the impact of tourism on coas-
tal communities. Focus groups appear to be an accurate initial
gauge of the process of tourism development and the broad co-
verage of the focus groups to include all community stakehol-
ders is a key element .
Overall, the interven
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
it appears to have
can be projected to other
m brings changing lifestyles: “every thing changes”.
roups discussions in Cárdenas and Caibarién also
ight be in the early stage of “relationship” with
egative impacts are inevitable because they have al-
According to the opiiors of the participants
rmed and addressed the areas of interest. A preliminary
analysis of the information appears to imply issues related to
globalization as a driving force for tourism development and its
impacts. The assumption that globalization brings pressure to
adopting a certain ideology, seems to have been identified in
the statement “tourism brings changes to the ideology.”
Other issues linked to globalization were:
Tourism is good for the economy, but
disruptive impacts as displacing traditional sectors (fishery)
and displacing people and work force.
Socially it has created disparities.
On the positive side, local culture
countries; but this puts pressure on the local community to
develop a cultural and social infrastructure that presents the
The link between tourism and local communities has been
ghlighted in terms of impacts on physical and mental health.
The impact of tourism on gender is very evident for the local
communities. While there are more jobs available to women,
the emphasis on the increased prostitution shows a strong nega-
tive impact on women. A comment was made about affecting
the family dynamics with changing roles as “main provider” in
the family. Other impacts on the family will likely affect wo-
men as well.
The focus g
flect the different stages of tourism development in the two
communities. In general, Caibarién seems to be better prepared
for the impacts of tourism as indicated by the more specific
programs and policies aimed at mitigating the negative impacts.
Early results of this preparedness may be inferred by the state-
ment “In Caibarién it is not like in other municipalities… like
Varadero [Cárdenas] [and] Havana where there have been more
tourists and more negative impacts.” In fact, prostitution and
drug addiction have not been identified as current problems as
in Cárdenas. There is a similar relation between the shift in the
work force toward tourism and uncontrolled immigration in the
Caibarién m
urists as suggested by statements such as “tourists learn more
about Cuba while interacting with Cubans”, and “it allows us to
promote our culture in the world.” A full verification of the
methodology may only occur with an analysis of the indicators
or measures of the suggested impacts. Nevertheless, the meth-
odology proposed in this pilot study appears to validate some of
the assumptions about the pathways between globalization,
tourism and impacts. Negative impacts are inevitable and only
early proactive policies may provide the prevention of those
These n
ady been felt by the local community, who has perceived
them in this way. Therefore, it is necessary to reconsider the
preventive management of impacts related to policies and con-
trol strategies needed to eliminate, mitigate, compensate, and
develop resistance/adaptation capacities, as well as monitor and
create surveillance systems on the effects perceived by the
community (Figure 6).
nions and behav
the focus groups developed in Cárdenas and Caibarién it is
Develop new
mitiga ti n g policies
towards community
community risk
measures for impacts
Develop monitori n
strategies for surveillance of
pressures and responses
Develop resistance and
adaptation strategies
Figure 6. reventive measures of negative impacts perceived by the
cognized that the expansion of tourism on coastal communi-
munity is able to
research conducted in Cuba also demonstrates that
alitative and quantitative indicators were
es to protect and promote tourism
search learning experience this study provides a me-
alue of the results is related to the projection of new
Possible p
ties directly and/or indirectly affects them. It is an important
point to project alternatives for development based on the per-
ception of the tourism model implemented at the local destina-
tion, allowing the possibility to improve the relationship be-
tween tourism and the host community.
The pilot study concluded that the local com
entify the links between tourism development and its impacts.
They can explain pathways that link the impact of tourism, and
the policies that influence them. Also, direct and indirect effects
on the local communities across their lifespan are perceived,
with emphasis on the evolution of impacts on social organiza-
urism impacts vary at different stages of tourism development.
The know-how developed in Cárdenas regarding the traditional
model of tourism could be an appropriate way of promoting an
alternative model of tourism development based on sustainable
principles. Due to the different stages of development both
cities are in, it is perfect timing to promote a preventive plan for
controlling negative impacts of tourism perceived by the com-
munity in Caibarién.
Comprehensive qu
entified by the focus groups in Cárdenas and Caibarién. These
might be indicative of the “real” impact of tourism and could be
used to develop future research projects. Both men and women
felt adequately represented by the indicators, and showed con-
sensus on indicators and research/measurement protocols based
on their own experiences.
Mitigating policy measur
velopment were recognized by the local community. It is
possible to develop preliminary consensus on the policy impli-
cations and policy options among policy-makers, researchers
and community leaders. They are able to identify a series of
strategies and actions in order to mitigate the negative impacts
of tourism on the community according to different areas of
As a re
odology to identify how tourism affects social organization in
communities, in order to consider different policy implications
and management options. At the same time it offers empirical
evidences based on a case study for those interested in rapid
assessment of tourism impacts through community participa-
The v
rategies of management for the future development of tourism
in both communities; Cárdenas which is located near a mature
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 43
destination like Varadero, and Caibarién which associated with
the new destination of Cayos de Villa Clara. The next stage
could be a proposal of a preventive plan for impacts manage-
ment; it should be designed according to the community per-
ceptions of the impacts of tourism, and the policies that influ-
ence them.
The findings could be applied to a wider global community
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Appendix 1. Focus groups.
1—Decision makers 2—Community 3—Health 4—Tourism
Know and manage the social system Exp as Know the health care systemKnow the tourism sector from the inside
erience the system
participating social beings
Tourism C) Doctor in tourism setting Tourist resort
Cultuoter Commes Femasm
Municipaal office Familysm) E
Cityng Assocp
Comm Cuba
DR1 rep (nei g hborhood or g.
ultural seFederation of Cuban wom en Nurse in tourism setting Travel age ncy
mmerce and servicPopular council Psychologist Transporta t ion
Community services Soci al worker miologist st information off
Industry Teacher CITMA2 Tour operator
Housing ral promuni t y servicle worker in to u r i
l statisti c doc to r (n ot in tourinvironmental educa tor Food prepa r ation rep
Police Nurs e (not in touri sm) Hotel Receptio n
planniiation of small farmers re Kitchen worker
unist Party ofWorkers rep Entertainment
Local government rep Waitress
or attenda
Private B&B
Note: 1Committee for the of the Revolution; 2Ministry of Evironment.
Appendix 2. Guidelines for Focus Groups
be recorded. Nevertheless, the facili-
Focus Group #1—Decision Makers
he social system. old
stions: ortance does tourism have for:
/Cárdenas cussion should reflect what the partici-
health, environment, etc.)?
d social aspects: The Environment,
esirable and undesirable impacts of tourism
ts that result from tourism and what do you per-
portance, perceived by the deci-
have been taken during the past year, in your
Participants: Those that experience the system as members
e Defensn
eral Instructions
The focus groups will
tors should take written notes in order to identify the speaker
(not the name, just whether the person speaking is, for example,
the cultural promoter or the social worker, etc.). Even though
the information will be processed electronically, it is also nec-
essary for the focus group facilitators to record personal notes
on their perceptions of the interventions. This will help in the
mechanical processing later. If possible, the focus groups should
have a good representation of women and men, age, occupation,
Participants: Actors and experts from t
Objective: This group is made up of individuals who h
adership positions and make decisions in various areas and
levels in Caibarién and Cárdenas. We would like to gain per-
spectives on tourism and the impacts it may have in all of the
areas of interest to the participants. In particular, we must share
specific details on the measurable effects of the negative im-
1) What imp
The Pr
Instructions: The dis
nts express about tourism as well as how this important sub-
ject transpires. What outcomes or benefits does tourism bring
and in what areas of society do they occur (economy, culture,
2) What impact (desirable or undesirable) does tourism have
on the following human an
ysical and Mental Health, The Community/City (Caibarién/
Cárdenas), Urban Services, Housing, Education, Crime, Work-
ers, Women, Children, Elderly, Family, Social Values, Culture,
Food Production.
Instructions. Direct the discussion so that participants ex-
plain in detail the d
each area. It is important to elicit whether or not a causal re-
lation exists between tourism and the listed aspects. For exam-
ple, it can be said that the amount of trash in the streets has in-
creased as a result of tourism (undesirable impact); it can also
be said that that have been major efforts to maintain clean streets
in order to enhance tourism (desirable impact); it can also be
said that the streets have always been clean (there is no relation
to tourism).
3) As decision makers, what do you perceive are the most de-
sirable impac
ive are the less desirable impacts that would require a solu-
tion or compensatory action?
Instructions. This question should focus on some of the im-
pacts, ordered by degree of im
on makers.
4) As decision makers, what are some of the most important
measures that
pacity, to prevent or mitigate undesirable impacts of tourism?
Instructions. Obtain details that indicate policies or com-
pensatory actions that the decision makers have taken to coun-
ract undesirable impacts or to create desirable impacts.
Focus Group #2—Community
of society. Make sure that there is equal representation from
he discussion should obtain participants’ re-
tourism at different leve ls from the
Participants: Those familiar with health from the perspec-
who work in tourism and
n for children.
do not work in
e children or partner, practicing religion, or listening
through direct ex-
omen are equally represented,
and racial groups, in
irect impacts. The
he discussion should obtain participants’ re-
e relevance of tourism on different levels from
tions between workers, differences between
area of work, why some fishermen now
s with spouses, children, parents, friends, etc.
, maintaining or getting work at a
ntented, demoralized,
en and women, those single and married, and from various
occupations in order to capture diverse perspectives.
Objective: The group will be made up of participants that
DO NOT work in tourism and represent a cross section of the
cohey experience the impacts of tourismmmunity. T in many
areas including (and especially) health. This impact is as much
physical as mental, and impact areas on a socio-environmental
level and in the community without necessarily benefiting di-
rectly from tourism. The objective is to obtain participants’ per-
spectives on tourism and its impacts both on a personal level
and on the community of Caibarién/Cárdenas.
1) What importance does tourism have on:
The Province
y Societ
Caibar ién/Cárde
ons. TInstructi
flections on the relevance of
general level to more specific impacts on a personal level.
2) What is your opinion on how your community is develop-
ping tourism and what do you perceive are the changes that
have occurred because of tourism?
Instructions. Facilitate a discussion about how changes have
been perceived regarding the environment, changes socially and
culturally, changes to physical and mental health, changes in
negative behaviors (like alcohol use, etc.) and positive changes
(like housing improvements, etc.). Try to cover the majority of
human and social aspects.
3) What specific actions have been taken to counteract the
changes that you have perceived as negativ e?
Instructions. Obtain details from actions that individuals
have taken in their communities against the undesirable impacts
on environmental, social, cultural, physical and mental health
Focus Group #3—Health
tive of tourism workers.
Objective: This group is comprised of individuals who
through their work have a good understanding of health issues.
The participants work in tourism or are very familiar with tou-
rism. We want to establish a description of health in the broad-
est sense through the eyes of those in the tourism sector. There
are four areas of focus: physical health, mental health, stress,
and protective/compensatory factors.
1) What is your perception of the changes to physical health
thate to tourism in people t you attribu
ose who do not?
Instructions. Focus on respiratory and sexually transmitted
diseases, obesity, etc. (have the list of health indicators ready).
2) What is your perception of the changes to mental health
that you attribute to tourism in people who work in tourism and
those who do not?
Instructions. Focus on the occurrence of depression, anxiety,
alcoholism, sleeping disorders and other mental health factors
that emerge from the group discussion.
3) What is your perception of the changes to stress occur-
rence/levels that you attribute to tourism in people who work in
tourism and those who do not?
Instructions. Facilitate a discussion of work-related stress,
interpersonal (couples and family) stress, economic stress, and
stress around providing educatio
4) What is your perception of individual or community ac-
tions taken to mitigate or prevent the occurrence of stress or
mental health disorders in people who work or
Instructions. Facilitate a discussion around personal strate-
gies to lessen the effects of stress, for example, taking personal
time for th
music. For the c ommunity level, discuss how community or-
ganizations and the community as a whole, as well as cultural
activities, etc., help to alleviate stress.
Focus Group #4—Tourism
Participants: Those familiar with tourism
perience. Make sure men and w
as well as single and married individuals
der to capture a diversity of perspectives.
Objective: The group is comprised of people who work in
tourism (from managers to cleaning staff) or who are directly
linked to the sector and who experience d
rticipants experience the effects of tourism on health and its
links to the environment.
1) What importance does tourism have on:
The Provin
Instructions. T
flections on th
general to personal.
2) What experiences have been significant for you in the
tourism industry?
a) In the following areas, try to cover your experiences with
working in tourism
various areas of tourism work, what it means to have to
switch to another
work in the service industry or technical work instead of as
Relationships with family, partner, and friends—Discuss
whether there have been changes in the time and quality of
Children’s Education—Facilitate the sharing of personal
anecdotes about how children are affected by working pa-
rents. How? Positive; negative; how, for example, has beh
vior changed, and why?
Economic Impact—Discuss whether the participants feel
more economic responsibility within the family, if there is
stress around losing work
hotel or in other tourism-related work.
Emotional—Discuss on a personal level the emotional im-
pact of tourism. How does it feel to work in tourism? For
example, happy, at ease, hopeful, disco
deceived, indifferent, etc.
Social and Cultural—Discuss whether they have experi-
enced changes in the way they relate to or behave in their
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 47
tural dimension, in other words, n to counteract those
ex ns that individuals
community. Include a cul
whether they have noticed changes in cultural activities,
whether they continue to attend cultural activities or not,
whether they participate/organize cultural events or not,
how often do they attend, and what importance does cul-
tural participation have in their lives?
3) What specific actions have been take
periences that you perceive as negative?
Instructions. Obtain details of the actio
ve taken on their own initiative to counteract the undesirable
impacts on the aforementioned aspects of tourism.