Tourism as Interaction of Landscapes : Opportunities and obstacles on the way to sustainable development in Lamu Island, Kenya

Abstract: Abstract Lamu Island on the Kenyan coast is the home of a society with a thousand year history of contacts with other cultures through trade and shipping.  The loss of its traditional socio-economic base has led to the entry of tourism as the main income generating activity and the major contact with distant peoples. Tourism in Lamu is based on the old heritage in combination with a rich but sensitive tropical landscape.  One concern is how to develop tourism and at the same time preserve a certain set of landscape values. The thesis is based on observations and interviews with the host community in Lamu, focusing on how the local community conceptualize and adjust to the transformations in their envisaged and experienced landscape as a result of their involvement in tourism. Modern tourism ought to be closely linked to development in all respects and could be regarded as an important part of an open society which gives possibilities for interaction between people from different backgrounds. This investigation focus on the socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability and deals with the residents’ adaption to the new opportunities. The analysis show that the meeting with tourism gives certain effects in the social land-scape such as the accentuation of differences already existing in the society, the evolvement of a new moral landscape and the highlighting of the need of strategies to achieve sustainable development.