How to get involved in community-based tourism in Northern Thailand

A look at the work of the Thailand Community-based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) and how you can get involved with community-based tourist projects.

By | Tue 4 Feb 2014

The Thailand Community-based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) was established in 2006, and lies under the umbrella of the Thailand Research Fund Regional Office, based in Chiang Mai.

CBT-I was founded based upon the conviction that tourism can be a tool for community development. However, for rural tourism to be sustainable, community members must participate in and benefit from tourism development.

CBT-I is a partnership which unites the knowledge, skills and experience of two Thai organizations. The Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST) and The Thailand Research Fund Regional Office CBT team, which have worked for many years supporting Thai communities to develop small-scale tourism programs, appropriate to their own cultures and environments.

This work has built the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence of community members across the country; celebrated traditional cultures; supported local rights; contributed towards more sustainable natural resource management, and led to the development of Thailand’s largest network of CBT communities.

What does CBT-I do? 

CBT is tourism that takes environmental, social and cultural sustainability into account. It is managed and owned by the community, for the community, with the purpose of enabling visitors to increase their awareness and learn about the community and local ways of life.

Community Based Tourism programs are developed based around special elements of local lifestyle, culture, people and nature that community members feel proud of and choose to share with guests. Guests have an opportunity to experience and learn about the community and the environment through fun, “hands-on” activities lead by local community guides. These include jungle trekking, traditional fishing, natural dyeing, learning to cook local dishes, etc.

Tourism services and activities are planned and managed by local people, working together in a “CBT Group. These programs are especially designed to support community and environmental projects, to build local skills, and to distribute opportunities fairly.

Guests and volunteers experience and learn about rural Thai people, their lives, cultures, and inter-relationships with the natural world. It is hoped that this will increase respect for local cultures and the environment among hosts and guests.

Contact Information for CBT-I

Office: Room 206, Pentecost Building, Payap University, Mae Khao Campus Muang, Chiang Mai, 50000 Thailand
Address: CBT-I Coordination Center The Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute Room 216, Pentecost Building, Payap University, Mae Khao Campus Muang, Chiang Mai, 50000 Thailand