What is Community Tourism?
Tourism that benefits local people
Community tourism (sometimes called community-based tourism) is a form of tourism which aims to include and benefit local communities, particularly indigenous peoples and villagers in the rural South (ie 'developing world'). For instance, villagers might host tourists in their village, managing the scheme communally and sharing the profits. There are many types of community tourism project, including many in which the 'community' works with a commercial tour operator, but all community tourism projects should give local people a fair share of the benefits/profits and a say in deciding how incoming tourism is managed.
Tourism that benefits tourists
These tours open up a world of adventure and opportunity. Visit the Amazon… trek through the Andes or the Sinai… experience the magic of the central Australian desert… Good community-based tours take you beyond mainstream tourism. You'll meet people from different countries and learn far more about them and their culture than on conventional tours. You'll feel better knowing that your visit is genuinely helping your hosts. And if you want to simply lie on a beach.... well, there are tours here that feature some of the best beaches on the planet.
You'll find a more detailed discussion of community tourism in Tourism Concern's book, The Ethical Travel Guide, as well as more complete descriptions of the tours in the directory. Click here to buy the book!
Community tourism should...
- Be run with the involvement and consent of local communities. (Local people should participate in planning and managing the tour.)
- Give a fair share of profits back to the local community.(Ideally this will include community projects (health, schools, etc).)
- Involve communities rather than individuals. (Working with individuals can disrupt social structures.)
- Be environmentally sustainable. (Local people must be involved if conservation projects are to succeed.)
- Respect traditional culture and social structures.
- Have mechanisms to help communities cope with the impact of western tourists.
- Keep groups small to minimise cultural / environmental impact.
- Brief tourists before the trip on appropriate behaviour.
- Not make local people perform inappropriate ceremonies, etc.
- Leave communities alone if they don't want tourism. (People should have the right to say 'no' to tourism.)
Read more on community based tourism from New Internationalist Magazine
The Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) in Thailand works with hill tribe and coastal villagers who for years have had no say in how they are visited on trekking holidays to ensure that they have full management over these visits and homestays. They are working with 50 local communities and the visits on offer are very good examples of enjoyable and fascinating holidays where local people are really benefiting.
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