Community based tourism is quite often lumped up along with its other siblings (adventure travel, local travel, ecotourism) into a greater, buzzier word: sustainable travel. It’s a spicy word with great promise, one that can merge travel and doing good at the same time. In the mainstream spotlight, sustainable travel has got mentions in Vogue, Forbes, New York Times, and it the UN even named a whole year dedicated to it!

So let’s get down to business, and figure out what exactly community based tourism is, its best practices and what Klana’s doing to help.

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From the word itself, it’s safe to assume that community has a big part in this kind of tourism. In community based tourism (CBT), it’s the local residents who decide on opening their place of living to welcome outsiders, in this case tourists. The locals are the ones making decisions in tourism activities, accommodation, all the way down to how the monetary benefits are used or shared within the community. In other words, first and foremost, it’s the locals’ needs that are met and addressed.

Since the voice of the locals are heard above all others, this minimizes the cases of big companies hurting local communities in tourism destinations. It also ensures that local traditions, cultures and activities are not watered down just to please experience-seeking tourists. CBT initiatives can bee seen as the “fair trade” version of tourism.

Best Practices

There are a number of businesses that has been successful in their CBT initiatives. One of those businesses is Village Ways. They show how tourism when done right, can bring opportunities to rural areas in Nepal, Bhutan and India. The accolades they have received namely “Best Poverty Reduction Awards” given by WTM Responsible Tourism,

In Indonesia, there is a concept similar to community based tourism, called Desa Wisata. Essentially, the term means “tourism villages” when translated to English, and it is exactly that. When locals of a village, province or perhaps individuals part of a union decide that they have something in their village that is worth sharing to travellers, they have the option of opening up their village and making it a “Desa Wisata”. Usually that “something” is an attraction such as a natural sight (waterfall or river), a historical object or an traditional activity.

Putting Into Practice

One of the many questions that we at Klana get is: how can we take part in this? The concept, it seems, to good to be true. In Indonesia, there are a good few that are practicing the CBT concept to full potential. However, many of them aren’t easy to find and scattered throughout the many many google search pages.

That’s why we started Klana. We aggregate, curate and publish community based tourism destinations that are available in Indonesia on an easy to use platform. In other words, we’re to make finding Indonesian CBT destinations much more easier. Therefore, traveling and creating sustainable development can be done from tourism.

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The Intention to Travel Better

When we’re privileged enough to travel, it also comes with the responsibility to be respect the places we visit. That respect should be given first and foremost, to the locals hosting us in their country.

Experts say that its actually better to travel less, but for longer periods.

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Show it with Spending

A super simple way to help the local community is to shop!

  • Browse the markets.

    The local market is the best way you get to see the local food as well as seasonal fruit and vegetables. You give your money right back to those who harvest the lands. Not only that, you also get to meet the makers of crafts that are often traditional to the area.  In Indonesia, the “pasar tradisional” or traditional markets are quickly loosing to the more convenient chain supermarkets. However, recently the government have been helping a lot with the revitalisation of these traditional markets. Markets like Triwindu Antique Market help boost local economy. In addition, you often get to meet the local crafts people, strike a conversation and go home with a more meaningful memento from your trip.

  • Don’t be afraid to try the food.

    Food is an incredible way to get to know a culture and get a taste of the local life (pun intended). In fact, it’s a huge trend here in Indonesia. Go to smaller restaurants rather than chain ones, that way you’re more assured that the profits go to the business owner. If you’re worried about hygiene, bring your own re-usable container and utensils. If the place that you’re visiting is anywhere like Indonesia, bringing your own container and utensils will help you in the long run. Unfortunately Indonesians still use single-use plastic very freely, but don’t let that deter you from trying our yummy food (which you put into your own container, of course)!

  • Support local entrepreneurs.

    Get a local guide. That way, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re getting a more robust perspective of the place you’re visiting. Not only that, you get real stories from them that gives you a more authentic experience. In Indonesian travelling culture, you haven’t traveled when you come home without “oleh-oleh”. Basically, one needs to also give a memento of their travels to those who are back home. It’s a great way to share a part of your adventures to those who didn’t come with you. Buying oleh-oleh is a great way to support local souvenir shops