Analyzing the preconditions for successful community-based ecotourism. By conducting a case study meta-analysis
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Community-based ecotourism (CBET) is a promising approach to find a balance between nature conservation and socio-economic development. However, CBET from the community’s perspective is little understood. Besides, it is still uncertain which preconditions contribute to successful CBET enterprises. In the existing literature, the preconditions are not often explored universally to learn from success stories elsewhere. Therefore, this research used the following research question as a guideline: What factors contribute to the success of community-based ecotourism? A theoretical framework was developed containing 19 critical success factors (CSFs) clustered in six categories. These factors were derived from claims in the existing literature and were applied to 50 CBET case studies to gather insights concerning the relative importance per CSF, the six categories, and additional findings of the CBET definition, missing factors, and configurations. A triangulation of methods was used to create a set of preconditions based on the relative importance of the CSFs. The meta-analysis was used to determine the relative importance by using a coding process. The survey and interviews were conducted as additional methods to validate the outcomes of the coding process. The results of the relative importance were defined by three components: (1) the frequency of the CSF provided an estimation of the ‘relative weight’ of each factor; (2) the frequency of codes provided the ‘relative direction’ indicating if the importance is influenced positively or negatively by each factor; and (3) the frequency of the values indicated the ‘relative direction’ as well. Eventually, the relative importance was ranked by using different scales in a synthesis. The main results indicated the factors accountability, autonomy, alternative land use resources, infrastructure, and funding as relatively important, followed by the other 12 CSFs, and these were validated by the survey and interview responses. The factors project plans as working document and understanding of relevant state policies were not validated as an important factor and therefore, these two factors were excluded in the set of preconditions. These findings resulted in the set of preconditions, i.e. set of hypotheses. This set of precondition indicates which CSFs are necessary for developing and sustaining successful CBET. This provided insights to create better conditions for local people and our planet in the context of CBET. Further research is necessary to test the generated hypotheses, to calculate the correlation between the factors and the actual success. But more importantly, the road to successful CBET presented in this research is a reliable first step.