Our community-based tourism reaches out to you: get involved
For at least 20 years, community-based tourism has expressed a modern idea of responsible and inclusive tourism, which instead of extracting value from the territories, shares it with local people.
Now Fairbnb.coop can put into practice a true model of community-powered tourism, even in your city or region.
We invite you to deepen some requirements, characteristics, and benefits of this form of tourism, and then get active with Fairbnb.coop and bring the model of community-powered tourism of our network in your own community.
The concept of community-based tourism
Let’s start with the definition given by Tourism Concern, a historic and prestigious British organization committed to criticizing tourism and spreading ideas of responsible travel. Community-based tourism is essentially a form of tourism that benefits local people:
All community-based tourism projects should give local people a fair share of the benefits/profits and a say in deciding how incoming tourism is managed.
For Tourism Concern, a key aspect of community-based tourism is the protagonism of communities in deciding the extent and modalities of tourism development. Communities can also freely decide that they do not want to be presented as a commodity in the tourism market, in order to avoid the folklorization and trivialization of local traditions or to avoid endangering the same cultures and community social structures.
The defense of local communities from the impacts of tourism can be carried out by making the arrival of travelers more sustainable, and not only from an environmental point of view: welcoming only small groups, properly training visitors and ensuring fair economic returns on communities, also in terms of support for projects of collective interest.
In summary, for Tourism Concern, community-based tourism should:
- Be run with the involvement and consent of local communities (local people should participate in planning and managing the tour).
- Give a fair share of profits back to the local community (Ideally this will include community projects: health, schools, etc).
- Involve communities rather than individuals (Working with individuals can disrupt social structures).
- Be environmentally sustainable (Local people must be involved if conservation projects are to succeed).
- Respect traditional culture and social structures.
- Have mechanisms to help communities cope with the impact of western tourists.
- Keep groups small to minimize cultural/environmental impact.
- Brief tourists before the trip on appropriate behavior.
- Not make local people perform inappropriate ceremonies, etc.
- Leave communities alone if they don’t want tourism (People should have the right to say ‘no’ to tourism).
Community-based tourism for Responsible Travel
Another British project that is very attentive to the sustainability of tourism for local communities is Responsible travel, which highlights some positive aspects: not only does the community receive a benefit from tourism, but it also acquires awareness of the social and commercial value of its natural and cultural heritage and is therefore stimulated to preserve it.
Responsible travel opens up the possibility of establishing partnerships with parties outside the community, provided they share the objective of supporting its development and planning the presence of travelers in accordance with the community itself. Therefore, excluding extractive or robbery forms of intermediation. This is how Responsible Travel describes community tourism.
Community-based tourism enables the tourist to discover local habitats and wildlife, and celebrates and respects traditional cultures, rituals, and wisdom. The community will be aware of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism, and this will foster community-based conservation of these resources. […] The community may choose to partner with a private sector partner to provide capital, clients, marketing, tourist accommodation or other expertise.
Another wide-ranging and in-depth analysis of community-based tourism, seen more as a form of ecotourism, is that of the Community Empowerment Network, which, in addition to sustainability, foregrounds respect for local cultures, benefit-sharing, and the right to self-determine entities and how travelers are received: “the strategies also equip local communities with the tools and knowledge necessary for decision-making, and to build effective structures to enable the community to influence, manage, and benefit from the development and practice of ecotourism“.
Finally, Elisa Spampinato, an expert contributor to the Transformational Travel Council, highlighted another key element: tourism, though community-based should be a complementary economic activity to avoid the destructive consequences of economic dependence that we have witnessed at the grassroots level in the most recent global tourism crisis.
The idea of community-based tourism, as we can see, was initially developed with reference to small village contexts in countries of the Global South, but the organization Tourism Concern itself, before being forced to discontinue its activities, was focusing on the impact of digital booking platforms on communities living in large European cities, making calls to action.
Community-Powered Tourism by Fairbnb.coop
In order to have a comprehensive and current vision, it would be necessary to see community-based tourism not as a product, as a “tourist package” in which are included the accommodations and activities that local people offer in the market. Community-based tourism differs from extractive tourism not because of the “what”, but because of the “how”, the relationship between travelers and residents.
It is a form of tourism that is developed with and for local communities and that produces benefits not only for those who materially host or offer tourist services to the traveler, but also for all the people who, with their actions and choices, contribute to making their territory alive, sustainable, resilient and attractive to those who want to visit them. For the entire host community.
Fairbnb.coop pursues this goal by donating half of its platform fees to social and sustainability projects that are proposed by local community representatives, our “ambassadors” and partners, based on the priorities that the community itself sets. In large cities such as Barcelona and Bologna, where the phenomenon of the spread of vacation homes contributes to maintaining high residential rents, preference is given to projects of assistance and support for the homeless, while in the beautiful and fragile Liguria region we finance sustainable development projects that aim to curb hydrogeological instability and produce renewable energy and natural fertilizers from residual biomass. In Paris and Rome, projects are supported to ensure quality education and dignified life to those who come from the outskirts of the world and live in the metropolis, while in Porto, a contribution is made to networks of citizens who distribute food not sold in commercial circuits to poor families.
The Community-Powered Tourism of Fairbnb.coop can be put into practice both in rural areas, as we are already doing in Italy in the region of Tuscia and in the province of Cuneo, as well as in urban areas. In fact, our project was born in some of the European cities most threatened by the impact of mass tourism: Venice, Amsterdam, and Barcelona have seen their historic centers progressively emptied, transformed into shop windows that are beautiful to look at but difficult and expensive for residents. The goal remains to contribute to the sustainability of cities, to keep them attractive both for those who visit them and for those who want to continue to live there. Cities that express the cultures of the people who animate them, and not the standardized ones that the market requires.
And you, if you’ve read our entire blog, you’re sure to be ready to take action for your community.
Take the lead and bring Fairbnb.coop to your place!
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How it works:
The Host earns the same,
the Guest pays the same
but the benefits are for the whole community.
50% of our platform fee is used to fund a project of your choice for the communities you visit.
This is a what we call
Community Powered Tourism.