The value of community-based tourism in Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia

Simon Pawson, Paul D'Arcy, Scott Richardson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In the era of mass tourism, phenomena such as sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, rural tourism, eco-tourism, pro-poor tourism and community-based tourism are now increasingly under the research microscope. If established and managed correctly, these alternative forms of tourism have the potential to contribute towards sustainable community development and provide visitors with unique experiences. Few scholars have qualitatively addressed the growth of community-based tourism in South-East Asia. This study investigated the value of a community-based tourism project at Banteay Chhmar in north-west Cambodia, specifically the discourse of the project's members and the broader community. The objective of the study was to provide an ethnographic account of the community member's attitudes, opinions and beliefs concerning the perceived value and contribution of the project towards community development in their locality. The study initially relied on a literature review to conceptualise community-based tourism. Unstructured in-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 30 stakeholders of the Banteay Chhmar Community-Based Tourism Project. A narrative identifies the development of the project and provides samples of the respondents' discourses. Findings from a thematic analysis of stakeholder responses indicated support of tourism and the overall operation of the project. Opinions were divided concerning the future growth of tourism and likely negative impacts on resident livelihoods. While some felt the project was relatively insular and lacked transparency, most identified the project's value as enhanced social capital, pride and a better sense of community. The findings show the project has positively contributed towards community development; however, before it can be considered a best practice example of community-based tourism, its financial sustainability, business practices and community support need to improve. The overall study serves as a valuable insight into themes promoting the merits and complications of community-based tourism, specifically in South-East Asia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)378-397
    JournalTourism Geographies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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