Why Community-Based Tourism is so important for our industry? In her latest article for Travel Tomorrow, Elisa Spampinato drew some links to show that those inspiring grassroots stories are not isolated cases, but are part of a way of doing tourism that has great importance for our planet and especially for the people and the communities that inhabit it.
1. Beyond preserving culture and wildlife
When talking about experiencing the lifestyle of local communities through Community-Based Tourism (CBT) initiatives, the association that automatically arises is related to immersion in cultural traditions and heritage, with different degrees of exploration of the natural environment.
However, we would like to invite you to go beyond this limiting perspective on CBT projects, and, for a moment, stop looking at them as mere providers of ethical experiences, and start picturing them as ideal partners in the journey towards sustainability, given that they are already actively implementing their own agendas.
2. Human and social development
CBT has proved to be a champion in achieving goals related to the social dimension of sustainability, which in the language of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are connected to the goals of gender equality (#5), reducing inequalities (#10) and decent work and economic growth (#8).
This is because at its core, CBT is a collective project, in which the people are the pillars, their good health and well-being (#3) its focus, and the goal of zero hunger (#2) is a daily monitored goal.
The Quilombolas communities of the Ribeira Valley (SP, Brazil) have effectively translated CBT’s DNA into a symbolic practical rule. As community leader Ditão informed me, the pronoun “I” has been erased from their vocabulary when tourism matters are discussed, to always leave space for the “we”, which clearly demonstrates the ownership of priorities, interests, responsibilities and final decisions.
In CBT projects, therefore, economic gain is usually achieved through the empowerment of their members, especially those groups who have traditionally been marginalised or who have less access to power, such as women, youth and people with disabilities.
3. Planet and conservation
The way that traditional communities relate to the natural environment is usually deep and spiritual, never considering it as a resource, but rather as a well of knowledge and wisdom. For indigenous communities, the Earth is also the roots of their identity, and, obviously, the main source of their survival.
Traditional methods of fishing and hunting are usually given as examples of responsible consumption and production (#12), and they are established in the context of a healthy relationship with the land. Although nowadays it is not always possible, unfortunately, for these methods to be carried out, they contain keys to understanding the local environment and its cycles, and to learning important lessons about the balance of the elements involved.
This is an excerpt from an article by Elisa Spampinato, originally published by Travel Tomorrow.