From the development of a language app to help South Koreans communicate with foreign guests, to homestays in the Maldives to support locals, several efforts have been carried out across the world to ensure that travel and tourism drive equitable benefits to the community.
Shining examples of community-based tourism were highlighted at the UNWTO Global Summit on Community-based Tourism held last week in the Maldives. The event was attended by delegates from 35 countries.
In the Pacific Islands, local women have been able to derive income by repurposing plastic bottles into jewellery and other handicrafts that can be purchased by visitors, shared Christopher Cocker, CEO of the Pacific Tourism Organisation. Local communities are also part of a Spend-a-night initiative, where locals produce and sell mats and mosquito nets to travellers for use on the beach.
Maldives vice president Faisal Naseem acknowledged that there must be “fair and equitable benefits to the community from tourism”.
In his keynote speech, Jafar Jafari, professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin and a recognised expert in community-based tourism, emphasised that a “happy community will ensure a happy tourist”, and that local communities should be “working with tourists and not for tourists”.
Driving home this point is the creation of an online platform that enables locals in a Japanese village to direct visitors to less crowded areas, as a solution for over-tourism.
Another example is set by Indonesia, through the creation of an online platform that gave 18.5 million small and medium businesses, most of which are tourism-related, additional visibility.