Community Based Ecotourism
The term Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) is commonly used to describe the type of tourism that, recognising the significant social, environmental and economic impacts tourism can have, primarily focuses on tourism’s benefits to the local communities.
According to WWF International, CBET takes the social dimension of ecotourism a stage further, by developing “a form of ecotourism where the local community has substantial control over, and involvement in, its development and management, and a major proportion of the benefits remain within the community.” Therefore, CBET fosters sustainable use of land and natural resources, while at the same time embraces both collective responsibility and individual initiatives within the community.
Although ecotourism often promises local communities improved livelihoods and a source of employment, irresponsible tourism practices can exhaust natural resources and exploit local communities. It is important that approaches to CBET projects be a part of a larger community development strategy and carefully planned with local communities to ensure that desired outcomes are consistent with the community’s heritage and culture.
In many ways, participants are not employees, but manages. CBET projects decrease poverty not only by increasing income but also by providing local communities with the tools and knowledge necessary for long-term critical thinking and decision-making. Tourism is no panacea; CBET should be part of wider sustainable development strategies.
Kiulu Farmstay is built based on this principle, to empower local communities by building capacity through a series of job opportunities created here. There is a famous Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. With this fundamental belief, we try to include participation from the locals as much as we can by giving them the opportunity to grow and learn the process. Their participation may include guiding, housekeeping, meals preparation and landscaping among others.
Some of the key features of a CBET project:
- Small scale
- Use of environmental-friendly practices and technologies
- Main services delivered by community members
- Minimal leakage of benefits to outside
- Increased awareness and cooperation among stakeholders
- Compatible with local socio-cultural norms
- Works with existing community initiatives
- Utilises community leaders
- Increasing local and visitor awareness of conservation
- Containing education and interpretation as part of the tourist offer