A phrase you may start to hear more and more in the travel industry is Community-based tourism (CBT). For years, terms like ecotourism and ethical travel have made their way into descriptions of vacations and brochures. Community-based tourism is the next buzz phrase around travel that is up worthy.


What is CBT and why is it important?


Community-based tourism (CBT) ensures that local communities have full ownership and management of the tourism experience so that the economic benefits of tourism stay within their community.


Look for these characteristics when booking a tour:


Indigenous leadership

  • Who's in charge? Is it someone in an office far away with little connection to the community? Then chances are, they are also in charge of the experience and taking most of the profit. Community-based tourism will keep ownership in the community by people who call that area home.


  • According to the UN World Tourism Organization, sustainability in tourism "takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities." Basically, it means that when we travel, we're not only interested in our own comfort and pleasure, or what we can "take" from the experience. Instead, we're interested in seeing that place, the environment and the people who live there flourish.

Cultural immersion

  • Having the opportunity to learn about local culture, history and customs from people who call that community home is always are sure sign that you're having a culturally immersive experience. Examples include walking tours where locals take you through their town, sharing their heritage and even personal stories from their family. Cooking classes where you are invited into someone's home to experience their family's favorite recipes are another great example.

Another key indicator in locating true community-based tourism is to take note of who is collecting the money and how is it being distributed. If you've paid online through a 3rd party company chances are the majority of what you've paid is not staying in the local community. This is where it gets especially challenging because big tourism engines have all the money for fast and easy booking applications and dollars for advertising. But thankfully, things like Whatsapp, Instagram, and word of mouth are helping to change that. 


Community-based tourism ensures locals make their own decisions and keep the money within their community. As a result, communities become self-sustainable. The funds created by tourism activities stay within the community and are used for its own good.

How does Travel on Purpose™ promote Community-based tourism?


Two of our core values, state it clearly:


We love people and the opportunity to connect with them and learn from them. Locals are the experts. We believe travel dollars should stay in communities, supporting small businesses that bring opportunity and dignity.

We are made for relationship. TOP trips will provide opportunities to meet locals and learn their stories, their history and their culture. This is the very best way to travel. Cooking classes and cultural walking tours are some of our favorites.


That means that when you book a vacation with Travel on Purpose™ or join us on a group tour, you can expect to enjoy activities with local people, learn about the place you're visiting from individuals who live there, and know that your travel dollars are benefiting the people you spend time with.


Let us book your next vacation and we'll connect you to people, culture, and unique experiences that benefit local communities.


Questions? Reach out today!

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