The concept of community-based tourism (CBT) is centred on the preservation of socio-cultural values and the financial gains of the host communities, which are also the service providers at tourist destinations. It is an emerging concept and is being promoted more and more as a means of developing sustainable tourism (Mukherjee & Banerjee, 2019). The socio-economic structure and environmental balance at many tourist places are often threatened by the detrimental effects of mass tourism (Chong 2020; Egresi, 2016; Hernandez-Maskivker et al., 2021; McMinn, 1986; Pksa & Ciach, 2015). Hence, both the academicians as well as the tourism practitioners have come to recognise and value the idea of sustainable tourism development through various alternative forms of tourism. Community-based tourism (CBT) is currently viewed as one of the core facets of sustainable tourism development (Gantait et al., 2022; Han et al., 2019). CBT makes sure that local community members have complete control over and management of the tourism experience so that the financial advantages of tourism remain local (Brohman, 1996; Hatton, 1999; WWF, 2001). The CBT programme makes an effort to give visitors to tourist destinations a genuine flavour of the history, culture, and natural treasures of the host community in order to deliver a thorough and engaging travel experience.
Key Benefits of Community-Based Tourism
Community-Based Tourism (CBT) is regarded as a useful option for promoting tourism places more effectively. This type of venture in tourism, if properly run and managed, can promote the conservation of natural resources. CBT can increase local benefits through the active participation of the host community in tourism businesses (Sebele, 2010). The key benefits of CBT include greater social and environmental development of the area, a higher economic impact on the families of host community members, and sustainable lifestyle diversity (Mehmetoglu, 2001; Manyara & Jones, 2007; Zapata et al., 2011).
Connection between Community-Based Tourism, Poverty Alleviation, and Sustainability
Poverty reduction through community development is a widely accepted agenda around the world. Community-Based Tourism (CBT) has been identified as one of the recognised strategies for such community development endeavours (Baniya et al., 2018). According to Jain and Triranganon (2003), CBT paves the way for new lines of investigation and for the possibility of tourism development together with other alternatives such as pro-poor tourism (PPT), community benefit tourist initiatives (CBTIs), and volunteer tourism. It aims to strengthen institutions that encourage the people of the host community to take part in various tourism activities and thus increase local participation in tourism development and planning (Brohman, 1996), which ultimately leads to the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the local residents at tourist destinations. CBT initiatives contribute to community empowerment as well as poverty reduction by giving local residents access to alternative employment options (The Association of Caribbean States, 2015). Jamal & Getz (1995) observe that such programmes not only involve the local people in the tourism development process but also help them manage tourism resources efficiently at tourist destinations.
Best Examples of Community-Based Tourism Initiatives
- Chi Phat Community-based Ecotourism in Koh Kong Province in Cambodia
- The Manda Community Trust (MCT) in Northern Mozambique, East Africa
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in Nepal
- Community-based tourism project (CBT) in Shivadwar, Nepal
- The Ananda Project in Naggar, Himachal Pradesh, India
- The Chalalán Ecolodge in Bolivia, South America
Challenges and obstacles
Although locally driven or community-based tourism (CBT) approaches have helped the underprivileged community in many regions with high unemployment (Marsh, 2022), it is also found that CBT enterprises and initiatives have not always been able to see the expected results, and therefore, many of them are unable to claim success (Blackstock, 2005; Muckosy & Mitchell, 2008; Goodwin & Santilli, 2009). Some of the common challenges to successful implementation and promotion of community-based tourism (CBT) are:
- Lack of awareness and understanding of the benefits of community-based tourism
- Lack of marketing and promotion
- Lack of government support and funding
- Lack of education and training for skill development at the community level
- Lack of sense of ownership at the community level
- Lack of security and poor management
- Conflict in leadership
- Lack of monitoring and planning
- Limited scope for income generation
- over-dependency on the external donor funding
- Lack of reinvestment priorities
- gap between the academic definitions and the way it is implemented by the practitioners
When executed correctly, community-based tourism (CBT) has been proven to be the pinnacle of good tourism. Hence, CBT should be properly implemented in order to give the host community people at tourist destinations the true benefits of tourism.