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The purpose of this study is to test the applicability of sustainable tourism theory within the sustainable community development framework. Starting with a review of literature on sustainable tourism and sustainable development, the study focuses on a project called “Achas Centre for Sustainable Community Development” (ACSCD). Based in the tourist hot-spot of Buea in the South West region of Cameroon, ACSCD operates on a theoretical framework designed to orchestrate development and shape the future of this mountainous (volcanic) city and its neighboring coastal city of Limbe.
The research method employs the case study approach by exploring the conceptual base of this project that seeks to development tourism as a springboard for sustainable community development. The operating model of ACSCD reveals that the sustainable community development centre is complemented by the training centre “Achas Higher Institute of Sustainable Tourism, Hospitality and Business”. While the higher institute imparts the training that empowers community members with tourism and community development skills, the sustainable development centre channels these skills through identified focus areas into community development projects.
The key finding of this study is that planning for the future and sustainable development of creative cities such as Buea, should be the outcome of both empowerment programs, the identification of essential development focus projects and the execution of such projects in the interest of sustainable community development. The significance of this study lies not only in its conceptualization of a new approach to sustainable community tourism development, but also its demonstration of the fact that sustainable community development is a result of both skills acquisition and the transmission of such skills into viable community development projects.