In Support of Community-Based Tourism?

The holiday retreat you’ve been looking forward to is FINALLY here. After months of planning and waiting, you arrive at your dream destination with great ambitions of being greeted with serenity…

But instead, you are met with people asking:

‘hotel?’ ‘massage?’ ‘taxi?’

and let’s not forget the streets strewn with big buses, small vans and tiny motorcycles waiting for you to pick to board them. We all know what mass tourism is like.

Community-based tourism (CBT), put simply, is the opposite of mass tourism – instead of a few big players controlling the market, leaving the majority of population with little to benefit, CBT aims to spread this benefit across a whole community through supporting local products and services. Some examples of such fee-paying services beyond food, transport and accommodation include:

(1) Learning about local tradition and lifestyle (e.g. traditional cooking or crafts lessons)

Cooking class in Bagan with our host, May

(2) Conserving natural and cultural resources (e.g. through paying a fee for a guided hike, where the fee goes to the local guide and a conservation fund for the forest in the vicinity)

Hiking near Hua Tat village in Moc Chau, Vietnam

(3) Mutually-beneficial host-guest interactions (e.g. dialogue sessions, home stays)

with the homestay owners in Hua Tat village

Through these activities, CBT also works against commodification of culture, and instead turns it into an immersive experience which fosters true appreciation and understanding! 

Actxplorer’s work

Actxplorer employs the framework laid out by Pawson, D’Arcy & Richardson (2017) for our project in Hua Tat, Vietnam (Table 1). In collaboration with the community and local government, Actxplorer is working with Singapore Management University students in designing and implementing skills and infrastructural upgrades in the village, enabling them to take the first steps in CBT.

1. The project is located in an actual community
2. The local community as a majority has been involved in the planning, development, and management of the project
3. The local community, as a majority, is accepting and supportive of CBT
4. The goals and objectives of the project centre around tourism contributing to the sustainable development of the community
5. Benefits derived from CBT are dispersed evenly, fairly back to the community
6. The project is transparent, ethically managed and free from corruption
7. Educational experiences are provided for visitors, provision is made for minimal disruption concerning everyday community activities, and the protection of tangible and intangible community resources.

Table 1

Find out more about our CBT project at Hua Tat here! We’re gonna head up from 3 May to 23 June 2018.


ASEAN Community Based Tourism Standard (2016)

Pawson, D’Arcy, Richardson (2017), The value of community-based tourism in Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia, Tourism Geographies, 19:3, 378-397

written by Danielle Poh – our sustainable development specialist 🙂

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