By Don Leffler, Tourism Centre of Excellence, THSBS and a Founding Member of CCTNSA (Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, South Africa)


Out of 30 million adults in South Africa, only 8.2 million earn enough to qualify as domestic tourists as targeted by South African Tourism’s (SAT) new domestic marketing strategy.


SAT recently re-segmented the domestic market. Some 14 market segments have been identified, but SAT believes only five of these are worthwhile pursuing. An umbrella strategy has been devised, driven by special deals and customised package deals. The following are the key segments identified by SAT:

1. Spontaneous Budget Explorers – travel is a way to gain new experiences

2. New Horizon Families – travel is a way to educate their children

3. High-Life Enthusiasts: This is a predominantly black, middle to high income group aged at around 33 years. They want to spoil themselves. Travel is a way to boost their social standing, so events such as the J&B Met, The Durban July and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival are high on their agenda

4. Seasoned Leisure Seekers: This segment is predominantly white and has always travelled, often visiting the same favourite places, or visiting niche destinations. The Western Cape is high on their list

5. Well-to-do Mzansi families: These people are aged around 37 years with children. Travel is a way of getting away from the city, relaxing and spending quality time with their families. Top destinations include KZN, Western Cape and Gauteng.


We, at CCTNSA – Countrystyle Community Tourism Network – (view at, believes that there is an exciting and untapped opportunity in Community Tourism to help grow the domestic tourism market and thereby stimulate community development and economic development in impoverished areas.


The Minister of Tourism recently launched a Culture and Heritage Strategy which aims to guide the integration of heritage and cultural resources and the use of heritage and cultural tourism into mainstream tourism. Further goals are to stimulate sustainable livelihoods at community grass-roots levels and to provide an opportunity to raise awareness, increase education and profile the conservation needs of heritage and cultural resources for sustainable tourism, among others.


The Department of Tourism is also looking at a Rural Tourism strategy which will also aim to integrate Rural and Community Tourism into mainstream tourism. These strategies include the objectives of community development and local economic development which may be driven by both international and domestic tourism.


During a recent study tour to Jamaica, the CCTNSA Team of tourism specialists experienced first hand how the usual ‘beach and sun’ tourist can be encouraged to leave the beaches for tours into rural areas and villages. This Community Tourism brings income into local communities.





The term Community Based Tourism (CBT) emerged in the mid 1990s. CBT is generally small scale and involves interactions between visitor and host community, particularly suited to rural and regional areas.


CBT is commonly understood to be managed and owned by the community, for the community. It is a form of ‘local’ tourism, favouring local service providers and suppliers and focused on interpreting and communicating the local culture and environment. It has been pursued and supported by communities, local government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs).


CBT may enhance social sustainability by empowering local communities to manage their own resources, provide meaningful employment, and assist with capacity building and cultural preservation. Environmental benefits include income generation for communities to actively protect their land from degradation and could enhance conservation efforts to attract tourists especially with regard to eco-tourism initiatives.


Internationally there are a number of different terms used for very similar activities; for example, in Latin America the term Rural Tourism is often used, alongside CBT. South Africa in its recent final draft strategy document on Rural Tourism also aligns CBT and Rural Tourism.


In parts of Asia, Eco-tourism is often delivered via CBT.


Typically Sustainable Tourism, Community Based Tourism, Rural tourism and Eco-tourism have similar objectives. Planning tourism to safeguard a destination’s cultural heritage and enhance its natural heritage while at the same time improving the socio economic welfare of communities.


Eco-tourism, Rural and Community Based Tourism are seen as both a set of principles as well as a tourism market segment.


Regardless of the actual terms used, there are some key processes and practices that can ensure CBT is appropriately and effectively considered, planned and managed for the benefit of both people and place.



Community Tourism is a form of tourism that;

> Aims to include & benefit local communities, contributing to their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their cultural and environmental assets

> Ensures that local communities have a fair share of the benefits

> Involves local people, providing pride and ownership

> Consults with all community stakeholders to encourage active citizenship

> Aims to protect and sustain community life by providing economic, social, cultural benefits & safeguarding its environment


1. Be run with the involvement and consent of local communities.
(Local people should participate in planning and managing the tour.)

2. Give a fair share of profits back to the local community.
(Ideally this will include community projects (health, schools, etc).)

3. Involve communities rather than individuals.
(Working with individuals can disrupt social structures.)

4. Be environmentally sustainable
(Local people must be involved if conservation projects are to succeed.)

5. Respect traditional culture and social structures.

6. Have mechanisms to help communities cope with the impact of western tourists.

7. Keep groups small to minimise cultural / environmental impact.

8. Brief tourists before the trip on appropriate behaviour.

9. Not make local people perform inappropriate ceremonies, etc.

10. Leave communities alone if they don’t want tourism.
(People should have the right to say ‘no’ to tourism.)



These three pillars are based on the concept of the triple bottom line for sustainability promoted by many international organisations including APEC and the United


Overall sustainability is best achieved when environmental, economic and social objectives are all being met through the same initiatives. That is, effective Community Based Tourism can address social needs, contribute to building a more sustainable environment, and be commercially viable.






The community is already well organised

and cohesive

The foundations of the community and

men’s, women’s and youth organisations

are fragmented and unorganised

When community members, women,

men and youth are, widely involved in

decision making processes, and financial

management around the CBT

Decision-making is purely the domain of

powerful individuals (usually males), and

the benefits are not equitably distributed

Land ownership and other ‘resource’

issues are clear and well defined

Land and resource disputes are rife and


Bottom up desire’, in the community

reflected in the facility design, decision-making

and management structures.

Top down’ centralised decision making

and management structures where CBT

is ‘placed’ on a community by an outsider

particularly if this is from international

sources and there is a local perception

that the motivation is purely financial

Decision for CBT is made by the

community based on informed choice, of

impact, options, risk, and outcomes

There is no real local decision making or

it is based on limited information and no

consideration of options

High participation levels


  • • Participation wanes during

implementation of the CBT facility

Driver is not purely income generation

but also cultural and natural heritage

conservation and intercultural learning

Drivers are solely financial


The activity is supported by good

marketing mechanisms

Little marketing or misplaced marketing


A strong plan for expansion, and/or to

limit visitor numbers in balance with the

carrying capacity of the community and

environment to avoid adverse affects on


When people think they can invite

tourists then sit back and ‘the money will

roll in’ and there is a lack of future

planning (to the detriment of the

community and the natural landscape)

Strong partnership with local NGOs,

relevant government bodies and other


Established through external funding


Approaches are contextually and locally

appropriate and not just ‘imported’ from

other contexts

The CBT venture is seen as a ‘one size

fits all’

CBT is part of a broader/wider

community development strategy

CBT is seen as a quick fix ‘way up and

out’ of a poverty cycle

Linked to visitor education on the value of

culture and resources present. Clear

zoning of visitor and non visitors areas

No attempt to inform visitors of the

specific nature of local natural and

cultural heritage so there is no sense of

the uniqueness of ‘place’

There is good existing infrastructure to

access the product

Infrastructure is inadequate and there is

no potential for investment




Community participation in CBT participatory assessment and planning processes has the potential to empower local community members by building the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to direct tourism development in their communities.


True participation can also build a sense of ownership and shared responsibility where the community, tourists and other stakeholders all benefit.


CBT is a long-term commitment that relies on a strong foundation of participatory assessment, and planning as both are essential components of tourism development.


To be successful, CBT ventures need to establish an effective management team, build quality control into each part of the management cycle, manage for risk and changing circumstances, and constantly evaluate management practices.


CBT is totally dependent on people. Tourists’ experiences depend on quality services provided by employees trained in appropriate skills and capacity to deliver the tourism product.


Assessing and understanding the required local human resources for a CBT venture is crucial in determining if a community will be able to sustain and meaningfully participate in the development of sustainable tourism. Many communities forget to include human resource development strategies in their tourism plan or don’t give it enough attention.


Funding, financial management and asset management are most important for sustainability. So too is an equal distribution of benefits, financial and otherwise.


Carefully designing the product, knowing the audience (the visitors) to target and ensuring that marketing strategies reach the right people with the right message is critical to building and sustaining an effective and sustainable CBT operation.


Define the product. It is important to be clear about community assets the product will be based around and what activities and experiences the community is ‘selling’. This includes ensuring the product on offer is one that will help the community achieve its CBT goals
Know the target market. What kind of visitors does the community want to attract?
Characterising the target market will inform product development and marketing and ensure management of the CBT operation meets community objectives
Tailor marketing strategies to the visitors you want to attract. Ensure the marketing message accurately reflects the values the community is seeking to promote through the CBT operation. Make use of forms of communication likely to be accessible and appealing to the desired visitors
Be aware of and develop links with other tourist attractions and experiences in the surrounding area. Consider how the CBT experience complements other local or regional activities when designing and marketing the product, and identify what value this particular product adds to other tourist experiences


To deliver and sustain the CBT venture over the longer-term, communities should develop partnerships and networks with relevant organisations to extend outreach, build resilience and create a supportive environment.


Monitoring and evaluation are important for sustainability and effective systems should be developed to ensure best practice.

IIPT 3rd Global Summit for Peace through Tourism
Summary of Best Practices: Community Tourism Forum, 2nd October 2005
Facilitated by Mr. Peter Bently, Executive Member IIPT Community Tourism Network,
Khun Potjana Suansri, Project Coordinator, Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project,
Mr. Peter Richards, Marketing Manager, Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project.
Community Tourism Forum, 2nd October 2005: Summary of Best Practices

The Forum discussed the experiences and expectations of local communities involved in tourism and those of the tourist who visit these communities and identified the several key tools necessary to link these groups in a healthy and equitable manner.

The forum identified seven key tools for effective community tourism development then discussed examples of best practices from the wealth of experience and knowledge assembled.

A wide range of inspiring examples from individuals and smaller organizations provided an expansive body of experiences and lessons in how tourism is enhancing livelihoods, supporting intercultural exchanges, and promoting peace in many smaller communities throughout the world.


Tourism is a viable and important agent to positive change.

  1. Above all, tourism should be viewed as a system, rather than defined as a purely economic activity. This will allow practitioners to develop an appropriate holistic frame (e.g.: social, cultural, economic, environmental, psychological) for measuring the true costs / benefits of tourism.
  2. When defining the economic benefits of tourism, practitioners must analyze the whole supply chain rather than focus just on the tourism business.
  3. The level of community involvement in community tourism should be defined by the community.
    Because communities are dynamic and tourism is difficult for communities to understand, CBT frames need to be continually re-visited and developed as communities’ experience increase.
  4. Policy / Law / Regulation: Devolved legislation creates a good enabling environment for successful community tourism . Policy support is essential for sustaining community tourism
  5. To optimize opportunities for project ‘ownership’ and sustainability
  6. Communities’ decisions of “if and how” to participate in Community Tourism should be based foremost upon community defined needs.
  7. Community Tourism activities should be defined by the community, according to their own perception of local strengths, and supported by primary information from participatory Community Studies.
  8. Communities should understand that Tourism takes time to develop, and be committed to patience
  9. Participatory Community Studies, Study Trips, SWOT, and training on the positive and negative aspects of tourism are very useful preparation tools.
  10. Co-management: Encourage broad stakeholder participation, including the private sector. Engage all stakeholders early. Agreements should be documented and formalized
  11. To increase senses of ownership and responsibility, encourage contributions from all stakeholders
  12. All partners, not only the community, should receive needs-based capacity building training
  13. Equality of partners must be formally acknowledged
  14. Co-management requires sufficient time to succeed
  15. Mentoring and Evaluation is essential: both formal (e.g. surveys, feedback) and informal (experience sharing forums)
  16. Process engaged wide stakeholder participation from very start.
  17. Training Following CBT Product Development “Advanced Capacity Building” is essential to ensure quality and satisfy tour operators and tourists
  18. Training interventions should be needs based, broad-based and stakeholder specific
  19. Training should place equal weight on developing participants’ knowledge, skills and motivation. All training materials should be available in the local language. Training materials should be interesting, colorful, and genuinely accessible to local people.
  20. Cultural awareness information resources need to be developed by communities to manage guests’ expectations and prevent shock, surprise and potential culturally inappropriate behavior.
  21. Guests can contribute to community education by participating in educational activities together with local people and donating books to local schools
  22. Do’s and Don’ts should be phrased in a positive way to be as sensitive as possible to guests’ feelings
  23. As communities are often inexperienced managing money, education should include: accounting; household economics; and understanding advantages and disadvantages of credit, debt, and investment. Education must include holistic analysis of the costs / benefits of tourism – including plotting ‘possible futures’ together with community members.
  24. Marketing: Know your product and know your markets: Be ware that both are alternative (i.e.: non-mainstream). CBT Markets are niche markets – attracting the wrong markets can bring very inappropriate tourists to the community and risks undermining CBT. Creative and unconventional marketing is required to reach appropriate niche markets
  25. Partnership, networking, coordination and linkages are crucial elements of successful CBT marketing.
  26. Community tourism product includes ‘ideological’ elements (e.g. environmentalism / people participation) CBT Marketing practitioners should identify and utilize ‘similar-ideology’ networks who will often assist promotion for free.
  27. CBT stakeholders who are providing marketing assistance to communities should assist communities to reflect upon and answer these Q’s:
    * What exactly do you want to promote?
    * What market do you want to promote to?
    * How do you want to be promoted?
    * How often do you want to promote?
  28. Ongoing feedback / reflection / change is essential
  29. Funding: Divide projects into different components to attract ‘non-tourism’ funding to ‘non-tourism’ components. Be creative – look for alternative sources of funding, e.g.: local private sector or inside the community. Community contributions will create ownership and attract greater chances of funding support.
    ‘Community Funds’ can be built into CBT prices (e.g. 10% / 15% of price) and contribute towards ongoing funding needs. Co-ordinating with funding experts saves time
  30. Monitoring & Evaluation Monitoring should take place on multiple levels (e.g.: Individual, Family, Group, Village, District, Province) . Monitoring tools should be simple and accessible. Local people should participate in the development of monitoring indicators and M & E tools. Monitoring and Evaluation should be transparent


CCTNSA and the Tourism Centre of Excellence offers specialised Project Management and Training Programmes for Community Tourism as a driver of community development and local economic development.

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