Tourism product development authorities in the region now have a resource from which to draw when developing their community-based tourism (CBT) programmes with the launch of the Caribbean Community Tourism Network (CCTN) by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
According to the CTO, the CCTN will provide a platform to support the continued development of CBT in the Caribbean.
The network will facilitate the exchange of best practices among CTO member countries and interested tourism development partners and help identify capacity-building needs as well as challenges and opportunities for CBT development.
“Community-based tourism offers an opportunity to bridge the social and economic gap of local communities, allows community members a path to sustainable livelihoods, and is a conduit for the active participation and empowerment of local people in the tourism,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist.
“This network provides an avenue for CTO members to share knowledge, resources, and best practices to improve community tourism experiences and economic impact.”
Among the functions of the CCTN are the promotion and support of regional development strategies in CBT, providing input into, and recommending activities and actions with a view to enhancing the visibility and value of CBT as a regional tourism product, and the exchange of experiences on national and regional initiatives.
The network is one of the initiatives of the CTO, which has identified CBT as a regional tourism development strategy and is seeking to optimise its role in supporting local livelihoods, stimulating entrepreneurship and community social and economic development, while also creating authentic experiences and unique product offerings for visitors.
Other initiatives include a toolkit for product development, produced in partnership with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF).
The toolkit includes a “how-to” guide to assist communities and entrepreneurs develop profitable CBT experiences and enterprises, with information on product development, pricing, marketing and creating business plans. It also includes guidelines and templates to support experience design and product enhancement and a tool to measures communities’ capacity and CBT states of readiness.