|dc.description.abstract||It is suggested that once development begins in an area, its Social and Ecological Systems (SES) endure varying patterns and extents of change. Such changes depend on the livelihood activities of people as well as the adaptive and reflexive capacities of the SES components. Since tourism development in Fiji relies largely on indigenous land, customary marine resources, and native culture, indigenous people are major stakeholders. As a result, indigenous Fijian communities have been exposed to many opportunities and challenges that require understanding and proper management. This research is, therefore, an attempt at improving understanding of indigenous Fijian social and ecological systems, their links to livelihoods activities, and the adaptivity of communities. Essentially, it endeavors to shed light on how the people of Vatuolalai village recognize, exploit, and create opportunities that arise as a result of development and participation in tourism.
This thesis will review the literature on tourism development, sustainable livelihoods, complex adaptive systems, and resilience and tourism in Fiji; highlight significant gaps, and raise the key questions that will guide this empirical research. This research used ethnographic techniques by employing localized paradigms and operationalizing a bundle of predominantly qualitative methods tailored specifically to suit the indigenous Fijian context. The findings will be presented as four published papers that will shed light on the experiences, adaptivity and the resilience of villagers in the hope of contributing to knowledge and offering directions for the integrative planning of tourism development in the Pacific and the world.
The findings of this empirical study will fill a significant void in the literature and provide evidence of the complex, multi-layered, and interrelated nature of indigenous Fijian society. It will suggest that because villagers have adapted to tourism as a primary livelihood source, issues of resilience and vulnerability have arisen. The following chapters will show that indigenous communities are not mere spectators in development, but are active agents who cope and evolve with the challenges associated with tourism. This thesis will demonstrate that indigenous women have become empowered through a process initiated by participation in tourism employment and enforced through entrepreneurial success. Essentially, this research will add to understanding about social capital and the emergence of other capitals in the adaptive process, emphasizing that financial capital alone does not create development, but tourism and other forms of capital does.
Ultimately, this study is intended to act as a platform for which indigenous communities involved in tourism can be better understood. It adds to conversations regarding the validity of using indigenous methodologies and confirms that the use of localized paradigms by indigenous researchers improves the quality of phenomenological inquiry. Perspectives gained from this study can increase synergies between various stakeholders and be a propellant, encouraging genuinely holistic approaches towards tourism development.||