Community-based tourism (CBT) has proved a popular and resilient idea, a “good thing,” this despite its lack of success in delivering community benefits. Tourism is 10% of global GDP, a major sector of consumption, there must surely be potential to create decent livelihoods and “shared value” for local communities from it. A local community which engages with tourism is effectively exporting, making sales beyond its immediate boundaries, often internationally, and the consumer comes to the producer bearing their own travel costs. Tourism brings additional economic demand often to remote and marginal areas.
CBT is best defined as “tourism owned and /or managed by communities and intended to deliver wider community benefits.” Developing a business in a community on a sufficient scale to benefit the whole community is challenging and very few initiatives are successful, the failure rate is high. The work of the Pro-Poor Tourism Partnership identified the ways in which tourism could be used locally to benefit the economically poor and there were a few successful initiatives, but there are very few examples where the benefits can be quantified.