Community-Based Tourism (CBT) is a form of tourism activity that is related to communities. It was initially presented as an alternative form of tourism to mitigate the challenges that come with the mass tourism phenomenon. Community-based tourism serves as a tool to operate on the bottom-top approach used in developing countries to ensure that the locals make their own decisions and keep the funds earned through tourism within the community. This encourages the development of self-sustainable communities. 

The involvement of community-based tourism brings about an improvement in communities and brings about a great exchange of culture and traditions between the community and tourists. Most times, in tourism, communities are neglected, most locals are overlooked and there could be a threat to social development and economic growth if not properly planned. Rather, tourism should serve as a means of development for destination communities. Countries such as Thailand, Costa Rica, Kenya, Peru, and Nepal have adopted community-based tourism to allow visitors to experience the local culture and tradition while promoting sustainable development.

Below are the benefits of community-based tourism.

Community-based tourism is beneficial for both tourists and local communities.

Community-Based Tourism - Sheet1
Community Based Tourism_©Kristina Tolmacheva

Cultural Preservation

CBT preserves the culture and tradition of local communities. CBT prevents young members of the population from leaving a community for large cities by providing job opportunities for them. It also promotes the preservation and exchange of local cultures, traditions, and heritage. Tourists can engage and participate in cultural rites such as festivals or dances and as a result, this helps preserve the cultural practices.

Environmental Protection

Community-based tourism promotes sustainable practices that help to minimize negative impacts on the environment. CBT initiatives also promote eco-friendly accommodation options such as campsites as this has a reduced impact on the environment. Conservation of the environment, awareness, and wildlife protection are all great benefits of CBT. It also encourages the conservation of natural resources and this leads to long-term environmental sustainability.

Enhanced local infrastructure

Revenue generated through tourism can be used to provide or improve the infrastructure available in the community. New and improved infrastructure such as roads, and healthcare facilities will be provided for the locals bringing about improved living conditions even for the tourist. 

Community-Based Tourism - Sheet2
The Colosseum, Rome_©

Empowerment and Income generation

Local communities are directly involved in tourism activities by providing opportunities that bring about income generation. CBT offers women an opportunity in rural communities to interact with other members of the community and improve their skills as well. Women are often responsible for the management and generation of the experience and therefore income.

Growth of small-scale businesses

CBT brings about the growth of small-scale businesses in the local community that provide accommodation, transportation services, food, and artisan products for tourists.

Other benefits include;

  1. Diversification of income sources
  2. Cross-cultural understanding
  3. Unique and authentic experience
  4. Reduced seasonal unemployment.
Machu Piccu, Peru_©Lana Law

Challenges of Community-Based Tourism 

In recent times, studies have shown that tourism has become one of the greatest contributors to development but when it is not efficiently planned with stakeholders being put into consideration, community-based tourism tends to pose problems in communities. Below are some of the negative impacts of CBT on local communities.

Cultural Objectification

Sometimes, CBT might cause the commercialization or commodification of local culture and traditions. Old cultures might be altered from their authentic form to fit into the culture and style of tourists. This leads to the destruction of the real culture and its experience. Putting mass tourism into consideration, instead of preserving the culture, they are instead used as a tool to attract tourists.

Dependency on Tourism

Local communities might end up depending only on tourism for economic growth and as the primary source of their income. A drop in the number of tourists might lead to financial instability in communities.

Cultural deterioration/Social disruption

A disruption might occur in the social structures and relationships within the community as a result of the inflow of tourists. Cultural clashes might occur between tourists and locals as a result of differences in values, behaviors and a rapid change that might upset the community’s harmony and damage traditional living.   

Overcrowding/Environmental damages

If not properly managed, tourism might bring about overcrowding in a popular community-based tourism site. As a result, overcrowding will cause environmental degradation, population, increased waste generation, and loss of natural resources.

Economic Leakage and Higher Prices

Tourism has a significant impact on communities in developing countries, especially those receiving large amounts of foreign exchange. Profits from tourism–if not used to benefit local communities–can increase revenue leakage, raising commodity prices in destination locations, and making it harder for local communities to be economically independent.

Other negative impacts include;

  1. Loss of privacy
  2. Cultural Erosion
  3. Gentrification
  4. Unequal distribution of benefits
  5. Cultural insensitivity
  6. Loss of Authenticity


A long-term approach is required in Community Based Tourism and aims to maximize benefits for local communities while limiting the negative impacts of tourism on local communities and their environment. To properly plan for the Community-based tourism approach, field research of the community involved in tourism should be done so as to ensure that all stakeholders participate in related projects and are involved in all the stages of the project


Bolanos, Maria. (2014). The role of community based tourism in sustainable rural development. Ph.D. Research plan. Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya 

Ece Zivrali (2022). What is community based tourism and why does it matter? [Online]. (Last updated 13 July 2022). Available at:  (Accessed 08 August 2023)

Wana Greslikova (2023). Benefits of community based tourism [Online]. (Last updated 03 April 2023). Available at:    (Accessed 10 August 2023)


Anastasia, a passionate graduate in Urban Planning, with a natural flair for writing. With a keen eye for detail and a creative mindset, Anastasia beautifully weaves together narratives that explore the intricacies of the built environment, showcasing her unique blend of career and hobby.