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Community-Based Tourism Success: How a Thai Village Transformed Itself

Community-based tourism (CBT) has emerged as a sustainable model that places local communities at the forefront of tourism development. This case study delves into the village of Ban Khiri Wong in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, exploring the intricacies of its CBT implementation, the mechanisms put in place, and the transformative impacts on the community.


Situated at the base of the Khao Luang mountains, Ban Khiri Wong, with its vibrant landscapes and rich cultural heritage, presented an untapped opportunity for sustainable tourism. The village's primary income was agriculture, which was vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations and other economic pressures.

Detailed Implementation of Community-Based Tourism

The implementation of CBT in Ban Khiri Wong was a structured process involving several strategic phases:

  1. Community Engagement and Training: The initial phase involved extensive community engagement. Meetings were held to discuss the potential of CBT, addressing concerns and expectations. Key to this phase was capacity building, where villagers were trained in various skills such as hospitality, tour guiding, environmental management, and basic English language skills to enhance communication with tourists.

  2. Development of Local Governance Structures: A community committee was formed, comprising elected local residents who would oversee the project. This committee played a crucial role in transparent decision-making and in mediating between individual interests and community welfare. They were tasked with tour planning, setting ethical guidelines, and managing finances.

  3. Creation of Sustainable Tourism Products: The community identified unique local experiences that could attract tourists. These included:

  • Agricultural Tours: Visitors could participate in organic farming practices, learning about local crops and sustainable farming techniques.

  • Cultural Workshops: These workshops offered tourists hands-on experiences in traditional crafts, such as batik painting, and Thai cooking classes featuring local recipes.

  • Nature Trails: Guided tours were developed around the village’s natural landscapes, including waterfall hikes and bird-watching tours.

  1. Marketing and Partnerships: To reach potential tourists, the community collaborated with tourism agencies and utilized online platforms to market their tours. They also formed partnerships with eco-tourism networks to ensure broader visibility and adherence to sustainable practices.

  2. Financial Model and Revenue Sharing: The financial model was designed to ensure fair distribution of tourism benefits. A community fund was established where a portion of the tour revenues was deposited. This fund was used for community projects such as infrastructure improvements, educational scholarships, and healthcare services. Individual participants directly involved in providing services (guides, workshop facilitators, homestay hosts) received direct payments, enhancing the local economic impact.

Outcomes and Impact

The implementation of CBT led to a diversified and more stable local economy, with an increased average household income by 30%. The village saw a reduction in youth migration to urban areas as local opportunities increased. Environmental consciousness grew, with initiatives such as waste management and water conservation becoming community priorities.

Lessons Learned

The success in Ban Khiri Wong underscores several vital lessons:

  • Empowering Local Leadership: Effective CBT hinges on active participation and leadership from within the community.

  • Continuous Education and Training: Ongoing training ensures the community adapts to changing tourism trends and maintains high service standards.

  • Community Cohesion: Keeping the community informed and involved is crucial for sustaining long-term commitment and enthusiasm for the project.

Ban Khiri Wong’s approach to CBT has not only boosted its economic viability but also strengthened community bonds and preserved its cultural and environmental heritage. This case study serves as a blueprint for other communities aiming to harness tourism for sustainable and inclusive growth. As the global tourism industry evolves, the principles of CBT offer a path toward more ethical and community-focused tourism practices.


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