The November-December 2016 session of my Tourism and Development course was a success. Together with an impressive group of adult learners pursuing their Sustainable Community Development Certificate through CSU and Village Earth, we took a critical look at the tourism phenomenon and its explosive impact on the world.
To ring in 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, I’d like to share a few of my students’ final assignment ideas. The assignment: propose your own community-based tourism initiative in your destination of interest.
All three proposals have a common thread of indigenous tourism. How can indigenous peoples own, manage, and benefit from tourism? Here are a few bright ideas.
Melanie: A Destination Marketing Organization for Indigenous Hill Tribes of Thailand
Melanie’s story is an inspiring expat tale. She grew up in Switzerland and worked in the private sector there for 12 years. She decided she needed a drastic change, so she moved to Thailand. Now she lives in Bangkok, where she teaches English and has discovered her passion for development aid work. Here’s an excerpt from her proposal:
With the aim of generating awareness for indigenous peoples and promoting sustainable tourism, I see the role of this NGO more like a membership-based Destination Marketing Organization similar to Ecotourism Laos, but with the focus on sustainable tourism in Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai area that involves hill tribes. Due to indigenous peoples’ lack of citizenship, they face restrictions of free movement in the country and access to education and work. This is the reason why their involvement in tourism has been mainly through hosting tourists and selling crafts. However, among the youth there are increasing numbers of young women and men seeking jobs in Chiang Mai to support their families and villages.
With capacity building and promoting more jobs in tourism, opportunities could arise for these young people.The members of this organization could consist of local tour operators that commit to paying fair salaries and fees to indigenous people by hiring them, offering home stays as part of their tours, promoting indigenous handicraft products and following practices that reduce the negative impact on the environment (reduce energy and water consumption, use renewable sources of energy, protect nature and biodiversity when conducting tours and/or building structures, proper waste management, reduce CO2 emission, etc.).
Colin: A Cultural Tour Alongside Mt. Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar in Tanzania
Colin lives in San Diego, California, USA. He’s had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries as a tourist, volunteer, nonprofit worker, and speaker. He pursued an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Recreation Administration from San Diego State University, and he’ll be beginning a graduate program at SDSU starting in January: an MBA with an emphasis in sustainable tourism. Here’s an excerpt from his proposal:
I have a strong relationship with the Tanzanian partner of a San Diego-based NGO operating programs in seven countries around the world, with operations based here in my city of residence, San Diego. A Chagga (the predominant regional tribe) owner of a small lodge is located the in the aforementioned region of Mt. Kilimanjaro (specifically the town of Marangu), offering clean, affordable accommodations, meals, as well as tourism activities.
I also have experience and connections on the island of Zanzibar, close offshore the capital city of Dar Es Salaam. Marangu is a very popular area, being that it is home to one of the easier routes to Uhuru Peak, and Zanzibar is host to a unique Arab-influenced culture, including Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Currently, the tourism offerings on the Marangu lodge’s website are classified as:
- Mt. Kilimanjaro Day Hikes
- Cultural Tourism
- Waterfalls and Mt. Kilimanjaro
- Historic Sites
- Local Blacksmiths Traditional Chagga House
- Chagga Beer Factory
- Kimukamori Waterfalls
- Mt. Kilimanjaro Climbs
I intend to create an itinerary that would be 10 days in length, including 6 days in the Kilimanjaro area, and 4 days on Zanzibar. It would be broken down roughly as follows:
Day 1: Arrival and orientation in Marangu
Day 2: Cultural tourism (see below)
Day 3: NGO tour (Chagga homegardens, microfinance, community organizing)
Day 4: Kilimanjaro day hike
Day 5: Rest day and travel to Arusha
Day 6: Ngorongoro Crater safari
Day 7: Travel to Zanzibar and spice agroforest tour
Day 8: Dhow sailing, snorkeling and fisheries
Day 9: Stone Town tour/rest day/personal exploration
Day 10: Cycling and island tour
Chris: An Aboriginal Owned and Operated Lodge in Tofino, British Columbia
Chris is originally from York, England but has lived in Canada for the last 20 years and currently lives just outside Vancouver, BC. He works with fair trade groups that produce handmade exports predominantly from India and Nepal, and has also worked in Thailand and Vietnam over the years. Here’s an excerpt from his proposal:
My proposed project would be located at the small village of Esowista, which has a beachfront location and is surrounded by the Pacific Rim National Park. It’s comprised of miles of rugged sandy beaches and coastal rainforest a short drive south of Tofino (five hours from Vancouver)
From my research the First Nation groups of the area are only taking a very small share of tourism revenue from small ventures such as guided kayak tours and sales of artisan products such as carvings and smoked salmon.
So the potential for expansion to gain a larger share of the tourism market for this community is huge, with little direct competition between neighbouring communities. The concept of aboriginal tourism is relatively new in the area is not well represented at present creating a good opportunity.
Want to learn more and create your own propsoal? Register for my next five-week course on Tourism and Development through Village Earth and Colorado State University.