Tuesday, August 26, 2014


By: Thomas Ouko
There are different definitions of community tourism with strong similarities and some differences which probably originate from diverse sensitivities and experiences gained in specific contexts.

Tourism that benefits local people:

Homestays Concept in Kenya
Community Based Tourism is a form of tourism which aims to include and benefit local communities, particularly indigenous peoples and villagers. For instance, villagers might host tourists in their village, managing the scheme communally and sharing the profits.

There are many types of community based tourism projects, including many in which the ‘community’ works with commercial tour operators, but all these community tourism projects give local people a fair share of the benefits/profits and a say in deciding how incoming tourism is managed. This is what Kenya Community Based Tourism Network (KECOBAT) stands for.

In a global context, Community Based Tourism should…
Community accommodation promoted in Kenya
  • Be run with the involvement and consent of local communities with local peoples' participation in planning and managing the products.
  • Give a fair share of profits back to the local community not limited to schools and health facilities.
  • Involve communities rather than individuals as working with individuals always disrupt social structures.
  • Be environmentally sustainable where the locals 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 (Code of conduct)
  • 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.)
Community Based Tourism is, therefore, tourism in which local residents (often rural, poor and economically marginalised) invite tourists to visit their communities with the provision of overnight accommodation.

Agro-tourism Concept part of Community Based Tourism...
The residents earn income as land managers, entrepreneurs, service and produce providers, and employees. At least part of the tourist income is set aside for projects which provide benefits to the community as a whole. 
Community Based Tourism enables the tourist to discover local habitats and wildlife, and celebrates and respects traditional cultures, rituals and wisdom. The community get awareness of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism, and this will foster community based conservation of these resources.
CBT - promoting agro-tourism
The community may choose to partner with a private sector partner to provide capital, clients, marketing, tourist accommodation or other expertise. Subject to agreement to the ideals of supporting community development and conservation, and to planning the tourism development in partnership with the community, this partner may or may not own part of the tourism enterprise.
Many of the world’s most beautiful resources exist in endangered habitats and vulnerable communities. Community-based ecotourism is a form of ecotourism that emphasizes the development of local communities and allows for local residents to have substantial control over, and involvement in, its development and management, and a major proportion of the benefits remain within the community. Community-based ecotourism should foster sustainable use and collective responsibility, but it also embraces individual initiatives within the community.

Cultural tourism at the Coast - Community Initiative...
With this form of ecotourism, local residents share the environment and their way of life with visitors, while increasing local income and building local economies. By sharing activities such as festivals, homestays, and the production of artisan goods, community-based tourism allows communities to participate in the modern global economy while cultivating a sustainable source of income and maintaining their way of life.

A successful model of community-based tourism works with existing community initiatives, utilizes community leaders, and seeks to employ local residents so that income generated from tourism stays in the community and maximizes local economic benefits. 

The local culture - authentic experience of kenya people 
Although tourism often promises community members improved livelihoods and a source of employment, irresponsible tourism practices can exhaust natural resources and exploit local communities. It is essential that approaches to community-based tourism projects be a part of a larger community development strategy and carefully planned with community members to ensure that desired outcomes are consistent with the community’s culture and heritage.

In many ways, participants are not employees, but managers. Community-based tourism initiatives decrease poverty not only by increasing income but also by providing residents of rural communities with the tools and knowledge necessary for long-term critical thinking and decision-making. Tourism is no panacea; community-based ecotourism and responsible tourism should be part of wider sustainable development strategies.

Principles for Community Based Tourism

Community accommodation - enhancing the
serene environment...
Identity: Respect and preserve all the characteristics of the environment, help residents reclaim historical practices, revitalize productive activities, highlight the ethnic background of the population, and highlight the unique aspects of the locality, such as topography, climate, architecture, cuisine and handicrafts.

Roots and Customs: Highlight local cultural practices so that communities share their cultures and traditions with tourists with authenticity. Invaluable educational opportunities such as homestays and town-hall-style round of talks are encouraged so that tourists and local community members can mutually share cultural aspects such as food, music, folklore, and goods. Both visitor and community cultures will always be treated with appreciation and respect.

Meet the locals and share the experience...
Ecological Consciousness and Harmony: Seek to conserve natural ecosystems and cultures by being a part of a larger development plan. All plans have a low impact on the local environment while highlighting the unique aspects of the locality, such as topography, climate, and architecture. The conservation of nature and rigorous concern with the environment influence the development of infrastructure for community-based ecotourism activities (i.e. building houses, roads, showers, etc.).

Community managed tourism
attractions sites_Abindu Caves
Local Control: Local control of the community based tourism industry. Local leadership leads plans and encourages clear and transparent decision-making. Community members actively make decisions on strategies and acceptable levels of tourism based upon the community’s culture, heritage and vision. Strategies also equip local communities with the tools and knowledge necessary for decision-making, and to build effective structures to enable the community to influence, manage and benefit from ecotourism development and practice.

Get the storyline of our communities...
Sustainable Economic Development: Stimulate the local economy by generating income through the sustainable use of natural resources. All plans seek to ensure that the local population has an equitable share in benefits.

In conclusion, the possibility is underlined for visitors or guests to join the local people in different community events – the cultural life, traditions, food, music – all in a context of reciprocal respect.

This concept has been prepared by KECOBAT adapted from Earth European Alliance...
Email: thomas@kecobat.org

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