In addition to being involved with the organic agriculture industry, Community Based Tourism is being offered to communities so they can receive positive livelihood impacts within their native villages by welcoming overseas tourists interested in learning about local culture through community product offerings within a village setting.
Community Based Tourism provides an opportunity for community members to gain added financial income and livelihood benefits through being managers of the land, service and product suppliers, entrepreneurs, employees, and accommodation providers.
The majority of successful Community Based Tourism (CBT) offerings involve a partnership between the community and the private sector. This partnership facilitates the capital requirements required to initiate the CBT product into a market offering by adding an established approach for attracting visitors through marketing efforts and network establishment. Additionally, private sector involvement brings various expertise regarding what type of accommodation should be offered, how to price and package the product, and how to equitably distribute the benefits of tourism to the community. Despite this expertise, CBT has a much higher success rate when the community participates throughout the conceptualisation, implementation, and operations stages of development. Participation includes community members being involved in decision making-processes regarding the level of visitation the community wants to attract and the type of services and products offered to tourists.
CBT utilises and assists in the preservation of the historic and natural culture of indigenous communities. This is achieved by sharing livelihood assets such as handicraft making, story telling, dance, gastronomy (food gathering and preparation), recreational and relaxation activities, and home life through packaging these culturally significant activities as a tourist package. Through CBT, beneficial cultural exchange occurs between the tourists and the hosts. Upon its success, CBT can also result in a homestay certification program that could see families benefit through housing upgrades. Additionally, bi-lateral industries can result from a properly implemented CBT offering, if the community desires additional alternatives.
As a development initiative to assist in environmental and cultural preservation while providing an additional economic stream to the community. CBT aims to ensure members of local communities participate and express their opinions about tourism activities, its acceptable inclination into the community, and the resources dedicated to its inception. LEMCO will be conducting community meetings where all community members are encouraged to participate and voice their opinions and questions regarding CBT.
For villages wanting to integrate CBT into their lives, community members will be asked to provide information on their cultural activities and environmental attributes as part of an initial audit of what the community can offer to tourists. LEMCO is very interested in learning what each community would like to attain through tourism. All ideas from community members are welcome and will be recorded as part of the community input process. All entrepreneurial ideas will be strongly considered based on the community’s current and projected capabilities.
LEMCO intends to support the establishing of a CBT Association, which will be developed to assist in marketing efforts and to share ideas amongst the participating communities. Although CBT primarily utilises pre-existing skills, knowledge, and resources, training and assistance in the process will be provided through a continual community outreach program. All ages are encouraged to get involved and be apart of the decision-making process. LEMCO wants community members to know that if they do not wish to partake in offering services to tourists, their opinion still matters and should be voiced at these meetings. Additionally, once CBT operations are fully operational, all community members will receive an added benefit to their current livelihood. For the youth (15-25) wanting to get involved, CBT provides an opportunity for them to learn transferrable skills that can assist in the development and decisions regarding their future.
During these community meetings, LEMCO will emphasise how greater participation in the CBT process leads to greater community control over decision-making, employment and skill development, upgraded infrastructure facilities, improved housing conditions, and a preservation of natural resources. Additionally, through participation in the CBT and community development process, community members are empowered to become motivated in the well-being of their community, their future, and the future of their families; gain confidence in their abilities and develop trust in their opinions and the decision-making process; identify informal community leaders who inadvertently mobilise the community; and understand their livelihood and environment is abundant with resources and assets.
The most important aspect LEMCO wants community members to understand about CBT is they already have a product that tourists want. Therefore, by opening up their communities to outsiders, they will have an opportunity to make additional income. However, the most important aspect about sustainable CBT is that the communities are able to maintain their traditional livelihoods.
Initially, CBT will be implemented in the Russell Islands, with anticipated plans to spread the community development initiative through to other areas of the Central Province, Guadalcanal and other provinces in the Solomon Islands.
CBT is supported by LEMCO as an initiative that will see the community receive all profits related to their community product offering. LEMCO believes that by providing alternatives to community members, individual and communal empowerment will be achieved. This is also supported by the increased educational opportunities and the building of capacity through the eventual development of additional skillsets through the CBT process. Participation in the initial and future meetings is the most beneficial way forward for all community members to benefit based on their livelihood ambitions.