Community-based tourism, an immersive travel experience

local host driving a boat on the Mekong river during a community based tourism in Vietnam

One of the great motivations for travelling is to live new experiences. Now, imagine going further… and taking an immersive trip to get to know a daily life with traditions totally different from yours, dialogue with local people and still contribute to the destination positively?

This type of experience is exactly what Community Based Tourism proposes, a model of tourism that is developed by local communities for their visitors.

The idea behind this type of trip is to participate in programs offered to small groups for cultural immersion in the universe of the destination community. Many of them are located in unique places, with beautiful landscapes and many options for ecotourism.

What is Community Based Tourism?

Basically, the proposal is to visit a community and not a place. The activities that will be developed in the program, in general, are defined by the community itself, highlighting what is relevant in their culture and territory to share with visitors.

This does not mean that the activities of the program are limited to the daily life where you stay, as often the hosts, usually, locals, offer tours presenting the beauty of the place, its histories and traditions.

Also read: Agritourism, the taste of country life in your travel itinerary

Common activities in Community Based Tourism

The activities you find on the spot depend a lot on the characteristics and traditions of the destination, but usually include:

  • Craft workshops: activities that demonstrate and teach their traditional arts;
  • Cooking classes: classes that show the typical food of the region or ethnic groups, with a lot of exchange of knowledge about techniques and local ingredients;
  • Homestays: staying at the home of a community member and following the host’s routine;
  • Tours around the region: visits accompanied by residents and local guides to places of cultural importance and tourist attractions in the region;
  • Cultural activities: each social group has its own rites and beliefs and this usually results in dances, celebrations or festivals.

Who is Community Based Tourism for?

If you are the type of tourist who always seeks to live a deeper cultural experience during your travels, you will surely be charmed by community-based tourism.

Experiences of this kind are also on the list of travellers who are concerned with social and environmental responsibility and the impacts of their tourist choices. After all, one of the guidelines for community-based tourism is to prioritize the needs and limitations of the community.

It is also a good option for those looking for activities focused on ecotourism, here it is always worth checking the technical difficulty of the proposed activities of the place you will visit.

Why Community Based Tourism?

For the traveller, the greatest benefit of doing Community-Based Tourism is cultural immersion with a vision of what the place really is and not focused exclusively on tourist spots. It’s about understanding people as the protagonists of destinations.

With this cultural immersion, you will be able to break paradigms and prejudices that you might have before understanding the reality of that place or people, expanding this view to differences also in your daily life.

Besides, it is a way to activate the local economy and contribute to its development and empowerment. Not to mention that supporting this type of experience is the best way to preserve traditions and cultural heritage

How to find community-based tourism

Some countries have developed platforms where you can find experiences, there are also forums and groups on social networks and travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism. Here, we highlight two ideas of experiences for your next trip:

Mamirauá, state of Amazonas, Brazil

With the administration shared between nine tribes of the Mamirauá Reserve in the Brazilian Amazon, Pousada Uakari is within the largest floodplain reserve in the world and has many ecotourism activities, such as boat trips and trails through the forest.

Rural Community of Punilla, province of Córdoba, Argentina

With more rural characteristics than the Uakari, in Punilla the accommodations are partly in farm hotels managed by the community and partly in their homes, it also includes light ecotourism activities, however, its focus is on local traditions, including conversations with residents and Cordoba’s cuisine.

Trekking em SaPa, north of Vietnam

You can explore the stunning northern region of Vietnam sleeping in homestays, experiencing the local culture and supporting ethnic minorities people from the hill tribes. In fact, the community-based tourism development project in Sa Pa has been recognized worldwide.

Ready to travel to another culture? Try Community Based Tourism and live this experience.