Community Based Tourism

National CBT associations


The Uzbek Community Based Tourism Association (UCBTA) will be launched 2018/2019 within the framework of the 2017-2020 EU funded tourism project ‘Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in Central Asia’. More information will soon follow.


Ecotourism Information Resource Centre (EIRC)Kazakhstan - EIRC

EIRC is a KTA-initiative that started in 2005 with the support of The Eurasia Foundation. EIRC is a one-stop service for eco- and community based tourism in Kazakhstan. Main activities of EIRC are:

  • (inter)national popularization of eco – and community based tourism;
  • provision of information to tourists and visitors of the center;
  • booking of tours and advertising support to project regions.

For more information and contact:


Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism (KCBTA)

KCBTA – “Hospitality Kyrgyzstan” is the country’s driving force behind community based tourism best practices and innovation. The association’s objective is to improve living conditions in remote mountain regions by developing a sustainable and wholesome ecotourism model that utilizes local natural and recreational resources.  Located in the capital Bishkek, KCBTA is an umbrella association uniting 14 diverse destination communities (“CBT groups”). KCBTA was registered on January 3, 2003 with support from Helvetas Kyrgyzstan Programme’s Community Based Tourism Support Project (CBT SP) with operations throughout the country. KCBTA balances marketing strategy for local and international segments while fostering communication on new projects, activities and opportunities to its rural chapters.  KCBTA encourages rational and responsible natural resource use through training on environmental protection, ecology, cooperation and heritage sites to local members of rural communities.    KCBTA provides support to member organizations by marketing their services and products, providing business training, supporting organizational capacity building and organizing training, seminars and study tours. The association represents member interests in national policy development and negotiations within the mainstream tourism industry. Kyrgyzstan - KCBTA

For more information and contact:


Tajik Community Based Tourism (TCBTA)

TCBTA – is a non-profit organization whose activities are aimed at developing community based tourism (CBT) in Tajikistan and in the Central Asia region. It was officially registered according to the Tajik law on June 6th, 2014. The purpose of the organization is to contribute to the institutional development of NGOs and associations of Tajikistan, which are aimed at creating a modern, favorable business environment in the field of community based tourism by :

  • Improving the framework conditions for doing business in the field of community based tourism;
  • Improving the legal and regulatory framework in the field of Business and community based tourism;
  • Preparation of competent management and staff in the field of community based tourism;
  • Establishing effective public-private dialogue;
  • Change the perception of the state bodies in RT medium entrepreneurs;
  • Cooperation and mutual consultations with Tajik public authorities and entrepreneurs.
Tajikistan - TCBTA

For more information and contact:


Tourism is regulated by the Tourism Committee of Turkmenistan, for more information:

Regional cooperation

CBT sub section of CATA

Within the framework of the 2017-2020 EU funded tourism project ‘Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in Central Asia’, CATA, in cooperation with Central Asian partners and the Netherlands based European Centre for Eco and Agro Tourism (ECEAT) will establish Central Asia’s regional CBT tourism association. This association will be a follow up to further professionalize and institutionalize the in 2007 established Central Asian Community Based Tourism (CBT) network (see above). Within the umbrella association that will become a sub-section of the CATA-organisation, leaders of the national CBT associations will be united to assure  market links, advertisement of CBT offers and quality through a certification system. In addition, members of the regional CBT association will arrange experience exchange, offer training and they will actively engage in CBT product development.

Definition and related concepts

“Community Based Tourism is a form of tourism where the local community has a substantial control over, and involvement in, its development and management; and a major proportion of the benefits remain within the community”

How the community is defined will depend on the social and institutional structures in the area concerned, but the definition implies some kind of collective responsibility and approval by representative bodies.  In many developing countries there are collective rights over lands and resources; community based tourism should foster sustainable use and collective responsibility for them.  However, it must also embrace individual initiative within the community. Rather than being pursued in isolation, community based tourism should be placed in the context of other options and programmes for conservation, sustainable development and responsible tourism.

The processes involved in CBT include all aspects of planning, developing, marketing and managing resources and facilities for this form of tourism.  Primarily, visitor provision includes access to cultural heritage and rural and natural areas, guiding and interpretative services, accommodation, catering, sales of produce and handicrafts, and transportation. Appropriate recreational and special interest activities may also be part of CBT, such as trail walking, photography and participatory conservation programmes. This kind of sustainable use relies on local knowledge, provides significant local income, and encourages communities to place a high value on wildlife, resulting in net conservation benefits.

The small scale of most community based tourism initiatives means that their impact both on nature conservation and on income and employment for the community as a whole is limited.  They can be more influential and successful if they are integrated with other sustainable development initiatives at a regional and local level. CBT can be well integrated with other sectors of the rural economy, creating mutually supportive linkages and reducing financial leakages away from the area.  It can be well co-ordinated with agriculture, in terms of the use of time and resources and in providing markets for local produce. In principle, multiple sector activity within local communities should be encouraged.  CBT markets are small, seasonal and sensitive to external influences such as political changes or economic instability in the host or generating country.  On the other hand CBT can provide some shield against threats to other sectors, such as drought.

As well as horizontal integration within the community, the success of local tourism initiatives may depend on vertical integration with national level initiatives to support and promote responsible tourism.  In addition to making linkages with what may already exist, efforts should be made to influence national policies in favour of community based tourism, including co-ordination between tourism and economic and tax ministries and policies.  National level support is needed in terms of linking conservation and tourism activities and responsibilities, appropriate legislation and assistance towards small enterprises and community initiatives, and national and international promotion.

Related concepts

Community Based Tourism – as a concept – is closely related to the “ecotourism” concept and the “rural tourism” concept.

Ecotourism is defined as “Ecotourism is nature-based tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable”. Thus putting stronger emphasis on conservation aspects next to the social component and concentrating mainly tourism that takes place in natural areas.

Rural tourism is a typical European concept and can be defined as “Tourism taking place in rural areas (which includes as well natural as cultural landscapes) and which is based as much as possible on the existing rural infrastructure (e.g. farms)”. Unlike with Community Based Tourism and Ecotourism the emphasis on sustainability aspects is less strong.

Elements and principles

Following are some of the main elements and principles of sound Community Based Tourism:

  • Local benefits and participation
  • Supporting and promoting local culture
  • Contribution to nature conservation and environmental protection
  • Education and interpretation
  • Visitor satisfaction
  • Responsible marketing

Local benefits and participation

The benefits of CBT should be equitably distributed with significant benefits accruing to the local community. Local benefits may accrue from the use of locally based operators, the employment of local guides and use of specialised local knowledge, the purchase of provisions and services and the use of local facilities. These benefits should outweigh the cost of CBT to the host community and environment, although the benefits and costs are difficult to measure. Active participation of the community in planning and management of tourism is an important element of CBT.  It involves not only the service providers but also the community at large.

Cultural sustainability

CBT often takes place in small communities, which are not used to external influences. Tourism can have a negative influence on the local social, economic and ethical conditions. It can however – if managed well – also contribute to the cultural identity, self-esteem and revival of traditions of the local people. It can be stimulated by e.g. production and selling of local handicraft, organising local festivals, and establishment of a local heritage museum, use of local and traditional materials and design and the provision of regional food. By promoting local culture and tradition the social structure of the whole community is strengthened while at the same time contributing to the visitor experience.

Contribution to nature conservation and environmental protection 

Tourism activity that degrades the environment, adversely affects the local community or fails to return worthwhile economic benefits is not sustainable in the long term. CBT is managed to avoid or minimise negative impacts and to confer benefits on host communities and environments, for present and future generations. CBT involves active participation by tourists and tour operators in the conservation of an area.

Planning for CBT is based on resource constraints. Economic opportunities will be lost if the resilience of an area and the ability of its community to absorb impact are exceeded, or if its biodiversity and physical appearance are altered significantly. The impacts of CBT can be managed through the recognition and application of sustainable practices. For example, environmental impacts can be managed using facility design, equipment and waste management practices, that minimise impact, both at the site of the activity and in terms of broader resource use. Often CBT is also seen a substitute for more destructive economic activities such as livestock raising or firewood collection.

Education and awareness raising

Education and awareness raising of as well the CBT operators, tourists as well the local population in general is often seen as an important objective of CBT.

Tourism is normally an unusual activity for a local community. Proper training and education in business, quality standards and knowledge, appreciation of the own local culture and environment and the ability to co-operate are essential elements of CBT which might also benefit related economic activities of the wider community.

Education and interpretation regarding local cultures, geography, environment and history are important tools in creating an enjoyable and meaningful CBT experience, usually through the employment of appropriate qualified guides and the provision of information prior to and during the trip. CBT attracts people who wish to interact with the local populations and, in varying degrees, develop their knowledge, awareness and appreciation of it. By extension, CBT should ideally lead to appreciation and positive action for the local community by fostering enhanced conservation, environmental and cultural awareness. Education can influence visitor, community and tourism industry behaviour and assist in the long-term sustainability of tourism activity in the region.

Tourism development could raise the self-appreciation of not only the service providers but also the wider community. It provides important arguments for conservation and revival of local culture and traditions.

Visitor satisfaction

Visitor satisfaction with the CBT experience is essential to the concepts long-term viability. The CBT experience should match or exceed visitors’ realistic expectations. Client service and satisfaction, an integral part of the product, should be equally regarded. Visitor enjoyment should be facilitated by:

  • CBT accreditation system;
  • A broad range of CBT products
  • Proper information and interpretation
  • Adequate and environmental and cultural sensitive infrastructure;
  • Adequate consideration of the needs of local communities;
  • High levels of safety and security for visitors (both in terms of image of the country/region and in reality).
  • Relatively low health risks and access to basic medical services and a clean water supply.

Responsible marketing

Realisation of community based tourism opportunities relies to a large extent on marketing making potential visitors aware of the available opportunities and matching demand with supply. In the field of CBT, marketing can often be a challenge since:

  • the industry includes many small operators who, on their own, do not have the necessary resources to market on the national or international level; and
  • operators may be based in relatively remote locations where they do not have ready access to necessary marketing skills and resources.

Visitors need to have realistic expectations and understanding of tourism experiences to help them choose a product suitable for their needs and the experiences they desire. In terms of CBT, responsible marketing will inform and gives realistic expectations to potential visitors of the type of activities available and appropriate in particular areas.