A community based tourism model that works for people and the planet

Homestays are a community based tourism model that allow visitors the opportunity to experience the daily life of their host family and interact with the lived experience of local communities. This often includes community led tourist activities that offer an authentic insight into local knowledge, culture and customs. We believe homestays can have an impact beyond the sum of their parts – laying the foundations for an ecosystem of small community based businesses, building community resilience and providing a direct link between the health of the ocean and the people who rely on and want to visit it.

The widespread benefits of community based tourism models

At Blue Ventures we develop innovative and transformative approaches for nurturing and sustaining locally led marine conservation. We work with under-served communities to build resilience in the face of growing global emergencies and utilise our experience in building adaptive alternative livelihood models that meet community needs, diversify income opportunities and promote sustainable practices that benefit people and nature alike.

“In small-scale fishing communities, homestays have proven to be an inclusive and rewarding community initiative that provides reliable income for families that are amongst some of the most vulnerable to our changing climate, public health emergencies and depleted fish stocks. Homestays can act as a catalyst to diversifying local livelihoods, building new opportunities and developing sustained community led marine protection.

The six pillars to an effective homestay model

Community led
Access to markets
Self governance
Local products

Being a homestay host is a good job. It requires less than being a fisherman and has opportunities for growth in the future. Homestays also benefit the entire community as well as other villages, not just the host families. For example, we use part of our income to buy fruits and vegetables for the guests to eat. This brings income to other community members and other communities.”

Learning through shared experiences

Although every community based tourism model should be tailored to that community, there are a number of shared challenges and learning opportunities. Community exchanges, both national and international, have proved to be a highly effective tool in developing homestay standards, identifying areas for improvement, and building confidence through training and shared learning.

First inspired by a set of exchange visits over 2017 and 2018 between community representatives from Raja Ampat (Indonesia), Atauro Island (Timor-Leste) and Tun Mustapha Park (Malaysia) and funded by WWF, Blue Ventures has co-created a homestay and community based tourism manual jointly authored by Seventy Three, Blue Ventures, Yayasan Barunastra and WWF Malaysia.

This homestay toolkit sets out a number of key considerations that local communities, and their partners in government and civil society, might wish to take into account when deciding whether and how to develop a community based tourism venture.

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