What is Community based Tourism?
“CBT is tourism that takes environmental, social and cultural sustainability into account. It is managed and owned by the community, for the community, with the purpose of enabling visitors to increase their awareness and learn about the community and local ways of life.” (REST Project, 1997)
Community based Tourism programs are developed based around special elements of local lifestyle, culture, people and nature that community members feel proud of and choose to share with guests.
Guests have an opportunity to experience and learn about the community and the environment through fun, hands-on activities lead by local community guides. These include jungle trekking, traditional fishing, natural dying, learning to cook local dishes, etc.
Tourism services and activities are planned and managed by local people, working together in a “CBT Group.” Tourism programs are especially designed to support community and environmental projects, to build local skills, and to distribute opportunities fairly.
Guests experience and learn about rural Thai people, their lives, cultures, and inter-relationships with the natural world. It is hoped that this will increase respect for local cultures and the environment among hosts and guests.
How is CBT Developed?
For a community to develop a successful CBT program, it is first necessary to prepare and strengthen the community to manage tourism. Community members require several steps of training.
The process begins by inviting community members to analyze the opportunities and risks of developing CBT. Community members are invited to meet other communities which have already set up CBT, and are free to decide whether or not to develop CBT themselves.
Communities who do decide to develop CBT are requested to think beyond the question ,’how can we benefit from tourism?’ and to consider an alternative question, ‘How could we harness tourism to support sustainable community development in our community?’
Further training in areas such as planning, organisational development, management, operation, marketing and monitoring develops the skills of local people and increases their sense of ownership for CBT. Mechanism such as rotation, queues and Community Funds help to distribute the benefits of tourism.
How is CBT different?
Many kinds of holidays visit villages and offer packages of local accommodation, food and activities. These include culture, eco and adventure tourism. How is CBT different from these products?
Active participation in tourism planning and management means that local people feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for CBT which is more keenly developed than other kinds of tourism.
Guests experience this unique sense of ownership directly through the tangible enthusiasm, warmth, and hospitality of their hosts.
This sense of ownership also motivates CBT club members to make special efforts to control any negative impacts of tourism, and to ensure that CBT gives real support community and environment. Guests experience this commitment through: a) Community Funds, b) Guidelines, and c) Projects which they can visit during their stay.
The CBT participatory development process empowers local community members by building the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to direct tourism development in their communities. Community, environment and tourists benefit.
How have local communities benefited from CBT?
New skills to help local people adapt in a rapidly changing world, where they are increasingly vulnerable: Participating in CBT, and the various tasks which are involved has helped community members to develop analysis, planning, consensus, communication, presentation, accounting, management, monitoring, and ‘green product’ development;
Increased community cooperation and participation, including new roles and improved voice for local youth, women, elderly and disadvantaged minority peoples.
Supported traditional practices; and created a new social space for cultural expression, and cross-cultural exchange which has boosted the self-confidence of local people;
Improved sustainable natural resource management including new areas of mangrove and highland forest, increased biodiversity and more food for local people.
- Community Funds: Built into CBT pricing have provided funds for a variety of community and environmental projects. e.g.: reforestation, youth camps, advocacy;
- Additional income: Community based Tourism has contributed up to a 10% increase in the yearly income of participating community members;