Marco Antonio Abastoflor Portugal 

Teaching-learning in Community Tourism and its contribution to local tourism development

Marco Antonio Abastoflor Portugal

Teaching-learning in Community Tourism and its contribution to local tourism development

Community-based tourism has positioned itself as a sustainable and enriching alternative for the development of local communities in various regions of the world. In this context, the integration of teaching and learning in the field of community-based tourism acquires a fundamental relevance. This article aims to describe the importance of "tourism education" as a tool and its contribution to the local development of the population.

The main objective is to analyze how teaching-learning in community-based tourism can not only enhance the economic growth of communities, but also strengthen their cultural identity, encourage citizen participation and promote sustainable practices in the field of tourism.

Through the review of key concepts, practical experiences and reflections on the challenges and opportunities faced by this educational integration in community-based tourism, we seek to offer a comprehensive and proactive vision for the development of this sector. It also seeks to highlight the added value that education can bring to the sustainability and quality of life of local communities involved in community-based tourism projects.

In this sense, a specific case of educational programs implemented in community tourism contexts in the town of Torotoro in the Department of Potosi in Bolivia will be discussed, as well as an analysis of results and lessons learned that can serve as a reference and guide for future initiatives in this area.

Community-based tourism" is defined as a tourism modality that closely involves local communities in the planning, management and economic benefits of tourism activities developed in their environment. Unlike conventional tourism, where decisions and benefits are usually centralized in external companies or entities, community-based tourism seeks to empower communities to become active protagonists in their development, while preserving their cultural, social and natural heritage. In this sense, community-based tourism is based on principles of participation, inclusion, sustainability and respect for the cultural identity of local communities. 

Teaching-Learning in Community Tourism.

Teaching-learning in community-based tourism refers to the integration of educational processes within tourism experiences offered by and for local communities. This approach involves not only providing information or knowledge to visitors, but also actively involving them in activities that allow them to understand and value the culture, history, traditions and challenges faced by the host communities.

From the perspective of local communities, teaching-learning in community-based tourism represents an opportunity to share their knowledge and way of life with visitors, promoting an enriching intercultural dialogue and contributing to the appreciation and preservation of their cultural and natural heritage.

Importance of Community Tourism in Local Development.

Community-based tourism plays a crucial role in local development by generating a series of economic, social and environmental benefits that contribute to the well-being of local communities and the strengthening of their economies. These key aspects are detailed below:

One of the most outstanding advantages of Community-Based Tourism is its ability to generate direct and indirect economic income in local communities. By actively participating in the provision of tourism services, such as lodging, tour guides, handicrafts, food and recreational activities, communities can diversify their sources of income and improve their economic conditions.

Community-based tourism has a significant impact on the social fabric of local communities. By involving its members in the provision of tourism services and interaction with visitors from different cultures, it strengthens their sense of identity, belonging and pride in their traditions and values.

Likewise, Community-Based Tourism promotes the active participation of women, youth and other vulnerable groups in decision-making and in the management of tourism projects, which contributes to gender equity, social inclusion and the empowerment of the community as a whole (Martínez et al., 2019).

Another key aspect of community-based tourism is its focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism practices. Local communities often have a deep knowledge of and connection to their natural environment, which allows them to develop tourism activities that minimize environmental impact and promote the conservation of natural resources.

Community-based tourism is a powerful tool for local development, as it not only generates tangible economic benefits, but also strengthens the social fabric, (González, 2020) promotes environmental conservation and contributes to the construction of a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable society. 

Teaching-Learning Experience in Community Tourism.

In 2013, a project called "Revaluation and Development of Biocultural Community Tourism of the Torotoro National Park" was opened, in this project the training component (Teaching-Learning) was inserted, so with the help of a team of facilitators and specialists the training was implemented using the Participatory Program Visualization (VIPP) methodology, the course was a success, resulting in about 40 people certified, strengthening all training processes with the support of the International Cooperation and the Academy.

The academic program was developed using the concept of "Teaching-Learning Communities" as an educational model based on the principles and practices of inclusion, equality and dialogue that aims at social and educational transformation. This model is often applied in formal and non-formal education as a strategy to improve training outcomes and generate the foundations for a supportive coexistence.

The principles that govern the Teaching-Learning Communities are:

The result obtained in this process was the consolidation of a potential tourist destination, in an emerging tourist destination in Bolivia, working with the support of the Bolivian Catholic University "San Pablo", the Swiss Cooperation and Tupiza Tours as a private company, positive results were achieved in the development of community tourism and leaves Torotoro as a model population of tourism development.

Challenges and Opportunities.

Rural community-based tourism faces several challenges that require attention for its long-term sustainable development. Long-term sustainability is essential to avoid overexploitation of natural and cultural resources, thus ensuring that tourism activities benefit the community without compromising its environment. Proper management is crucial, as lack of experience and resources can be a significant challenge, especially in communities with little training in tourism. In addition, competition with more developed tourism destinations can make it difficult to attract visitors and maintain the economic viability of community-based tourism. To address these challenges, inclusion and equity are critical, ensuring the equitable participation of all community members, including women, youth and other marginalized groups, in the benefits of community-based tourism. Likewise, continuing education and training are necessary to improve the quality of tourism services and resource management, thus strengthening the basis for sustainable rural community-based tourism.

Community-based tourism faces a number of opportunities and challenges that may influence its future development. The growth of sustainable tourism, driven by awareness of the importance of sustainability and authenticity in tourism experiences, can provide new opportunities for community-based tourism, as noted by Sanchez (2018). In addition, the formation of strategic alliances with educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government entities can provide technical, financial, and training support, thus strengthening the foundation for community-based tourism development. 

Diversification of tourism products, through the creation of unique and personalized experiences, can attract different market segments and increase the competitiveness of community-based tourism. Likewise, the use of technology to improve promotion, reservation management and communication with visitors can optimize the operation of community-based tourism. Finally, the development of local capacities, such as guided tourism, handicrafts and gastronomy, through investments in skills and training, can generate employment and empower the community, contributing to the sustainable growth of community-based tourism.

Addressing these challenges and taking advantage of opportunities requires a holistic approach, combining active community participation, support from external actors, appropriate use of resources and implementation of good management and sustainability practices.

Author: Marco Antonio Abastoflor Portugal

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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