Community Based Tourism (CBT) has been thriving for the last 5 years. More and more destinations see a huge potential in developing tourism in responsible way, which means not only offering original experiences to travelers, but also evolving as a community where locals take decisions themselves and receive 100% of income. Not an easy way to go for some locals living in remote areas, yet it’s one of the most sustainable and rewarding models of tourism nowadays. Read more about social impact in travel industry and places with a global and culturally inclusive focus or follow
Unlike working for a travel agency, where locals are only following their instructions so they meet the demands of the visitors, in CBT model locals are those who decide on the terms and conditions under which they work. After all, people who have grown up in the community know what’s best for themselves and the environment they’ve been living in. Thus, cohesive decision making process where members can rely on each other’s knowledge and skills is a leading component in a successful CBT model.
In the traditional model of tourism, income is divided between three parties: the agency, the mediator and locals, who receive the least. Ironically, without their skills and knowledge, visitors would miss out on an authentic experience. The CBT model, however, works on the principle that 100% of the profit remains in the community. Not only it increases locals’ income rapidly, but the community can set aside funds for future projects or train new community members.
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If communities must have so far waited for the support of the government or international sponsors, thanks to CBT, they are independent and able to manage funds without the help of a third party. They are no longer dependent on irregular “financial injections”, where there is always a risk of their suspension.
It’s nothing new to say that women are excluded from majority (or all) enterpreneur’s activities in developing countries. CBT offers women an alternative even in the most remote areas. In this way, women are able to leave the stove, interact with other members of community and learn or improve at the skills they are good so they can share them with the visiting travelers.
A big plus is the support of single mothers and women whose husbands work abroad and support their spouses from overseas. CBT thus allows women to become independent and break free from the stereotype of the “invisible engine of the family.”
Thanks to mutual cooperation within the CBT model, there is a natural cultivation of relationships between family members, neighbours. Moreover, contact with visitors becomes more natural due to authenticity, and if the activity is conceived sensibly and respectfully, cultural and social differences are erased due to the fact that foreigners might start perceiving the new culture as equal, not only exotic. Get more inspiration from the b.the.impact IG account.
Building on the previous point, it’s important to realize that interaction with foreign visitors means mastering at least the basics of a foreign language (English seems to be the most used one). Without them, the hosts would again be forced to be dependent on interpreting service of the agency’s guide. However, if members of a community speak one or more foreign languages, this will allow them to explain to visitors the instructions of the activity: cooking course, pottery, production of traditional products, diving, trekking), but also to agree on terms of cooperation directly with the leader if the community visits a group tour.
“Where are you from?”, “What’s your name?”, “Do you like it here?” These are one of a few ice-breakers where a conversation often starts between foreigners… and sadly, most usually ends, too. Mastering a foreign language therefore opens the door to new world for community members. They get a unique opportunity to learn about our lives, customs, country that we come from. It’s important to mention that cultural exchange is reciprocal, which will enrich all involved parties.
Being environmentally conscious should not stop at traveling with your own BPA-free bottle and a bamboo straw. Engaging in protection of natural habitat of wildlife in the communities is another CBT activity we can be part of. For example: in Les Village in Bali, with the help of CBT the locals have been able to restore a coral reef destroyed by cyanide since 2012, which has been used by locals for decades to catch exotic fishes, which they sold to foreign aquariums. This includes also waste management politics that is being implemented in CBT communities.
Improving living conditions
With the extra saving from the activities of CBT, communities can instal electricity in rural areas, build wells with drinking water, sanitary facilities, start with road construction, too.
Reduction of human-animal conflict
Thanks to the funds, communities can build fences, prevent conflicts, and get an opportunity to plant new and save old crops, as well as animals in the wilderness, which otherwise the locals had no choice but to shoot in order to save the crop.
Preservation of tradition
By showing a genuine intrest towards traditions and customs of the community, we not only enrich ourselves, but also help to preserve them. If the members of a community see the travelers are even keen on participating in the workshops where they would learn an ancient craft, the members are more motivated to develop the activity and pass the knowledge of making to the next generation.
Visiting lesser-known places
Last but not least, you as a traveler will be able to visit far-flung places that are not on the map. CBT tourism headquarters are usually situated in small towns, villages, yet accommodation and activities provided by locals are happening in ultra remote areas. Which is despite the obstacles to arrive there one of the biggest perks of CBT.
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