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Cristovao Bomfim Silva Dos Santos joined Oxford Brookes as a research student in October 2015. His thesis title is ‘The mechanisms of building and sustaining trust in indigenous tourism: a case study of the Pataxó Jaqueira community in Porto Seguro, Brazil’.
I decided to do my PhD at Brookes because I had heard excellent things about the supervisory team, and felt I would be both comfortable and confident here.
Before coming to Oxford Brookes, I was working as a Project Manager while completing my second master’s degree, in Sustainable Tourism Management.
Oxford is a familiar city to me as I studied English as a foreign language here back in 2005. The University resources are excellent - the library being one of them.
My research focuses on exploring the mechanisms through which trust is built and maintained in indigenous tourism planning and development. There has been a wide range of literature on tourism planning and development regarding indigenous/local communities. Scholars have advocated participatory planning techniques, community involvement and community-based approaches. However, there are difficulties in translating the theory into practice, especially in countries with differing political and cultural regimes. The anticipated economic and social benefits of tourism development do not always meet the expectations of local and/or indigenous communities. Some tourism developers tend to adopt a top-down approach, which tends to fail and trigger conflicts because of the lack of tourism knowledge and passive participation of communities in tourism destinations. The consequence of failures and unmet expectations has provoked a loss/crisis of trust in community tourism planning. Yet, little attention has been devoted to the concept of trust as a key component of tourism planning and development.
This research is relevant to the context of indigenous tourism planning and development because recent studies have argued that trust is a necessary pre-condition for cooperation, reducing conflicts and promoting effective collaboration and partnerships. Trust can be built and sustained via ongoing dialogue between tourism and other community actors. Tourism development requires the involvement of all stakeholders, whereby relationships are based on commitment which is established through trust. Tourism destinations have to rely on cooperation which entails mutual trust and understanding reinforced by efficient and frequent communication.
Hence, an exploration of the mechanisms of building and maintaining trust in indigenous tourism planning and development is overdue. The case study of this research is the Pataxó indigenous community of Jaqueira, situated in the city of Porto Seguro in the South of Bahia in Brazil. This ethnic group is claimed to have made first contact with Portuguese explorers in 1500. For five centuries, the Pataxó ethnic group has been fighting for land and identity rights. After achieving land rights in 1998, the Pataxó community of Jaqueira tourism project was created. Engaged in ecotourism for sustainable development, this community started to receive visitors in 1999. Amongst the 19 scattered communities in the municipality of Porto Seguro, the Jaqueira community was the pioneer in tourism development and the first community to offer organised tours of indigenous people’s lives with the collaboration of a local tour operator.
Studies of Pataxó involvement in tourism planning and development to date have focused on authenticity and acculturation, cultural revival and preservation of traditional elements. These sources have shed light on the historical context and demonstrate the urgent need for further exploration of indigenous tourism in Brazil. Importantly, they have not considered the concept of trust. The Jaqueira community has been selected as the case study and this investigation will fill the existing gap in knowledge about the role of trust through the use of qualitative approaches.
My research aim is to explore the mechanism through which trust is built and maintained in indigenous tourism development. The objectives are as follows:
1- To critically review and analyse the literature on trust as a general concept in order to reveal its relevance for tourism planning and development.
2- To critically review and analyse the literature on indigenous tourism and the Pataxó indigenous community.
3- To collect historical records concerning the Pataxó community from which to assess the process of the development of trust.
4- To identify the different aspects of trust within the Pataxó community and between the community and key tourism players.
5- To assess the processes through which trust is created and maintained within and among the Pataxó community, local tour operators and the local council/tourism board.
6- To identify and evaluate the mechanisms of change in trust relationships that have occurred as part of indigenous tourism planning and development within the Pataxó community of Jaqueira in Brazil.
In order to achieve these research objectives, an ethnographic approach was employed to collect the primary data, which consisted of a six-month field work visit during 2016-2017. In previous studies, qualitative methods have been crucial for conducting research focused on the topic of trust and imperative for analysing trust creation and maintenance processes. These methods are predominantly compatible for understanding the process and narrative account of trust and especially in the context of tourism planning and development.
Since joining Oxford Brookes, I have learned a great deal from my supervisors. Time management, dedication and motivation were my priority. I did not have any major challenges and my field work with the Pataxó community of Jaqueira was a life-changing personal and professional experience, since I had the opportunity to interact with community members.
All training sessions I have attended have been imperative. For example, the training sections on coding, theme development, data analysis and writing up your research have all been very useful.
Since January 2018, I have had the opportunity to work as an Associate Lecturer. I would love to share my knowledge with students as a future Senior Lecturer or Post-Doctoral Researcher.