Are you getting bothered by tourist trips where local communities are being portrayed as an ‘attraction’ for tourist, ready to be photographed by many? Luckily there is an alternative for you. With community-based tourism you can work together with locals to let tourists discover their culture.
About Fair Tourism: from tourist attraction to community-based tourism
Fair Tourism develops educational materials and organizes workshops and studytrips about sustainable tourism. Next to this, we also assist communities with the development of community-based tourism (CBT). Indigenous people are often used to act as tourist attractions, like the Maasai in Kenya and the Jarawa tribe on India's Andaman islands. For over six years, we are involved with the Kayan in Thailand, mostly with Huay Pu Keng village, who made the transition towards CBT. A great part of this tribe (subgroup of the Karenni people) from Myanmar, ﬂed to Thailand in the eighties and nineties, to escape violence and forced labour by the military junta in their home country. Together with other hilltribes from Myanmar, they were settled in refugee camps along the border. If it wasn’t for their neckrings & other ornaments worn by the female members, they would still be there. But tourism in Thailand was just starting up and the Thai government brought them over to villages to act as a tourist attraction. Because they are not Thai citizens, their freedom of movement is conﬁned to the villages. Fair Tourism wants to assist these communities to make the transition from ‘human zoo’s’ towards community-based tourism (CBT).
Putting locals at the heart of tourism
How does community-based practice works in practice? Since 2017, Huay Pu Keng offers a range of workshops, meals and homestay to tourists. This village is now the first and only Kayan village in Thailand that has made the transition from ‘human zoo’ towards CBT. We are now in the process of assessing (with the help from students) other villages that also like to offer CBT activities. As fortunately an increasing amount of tour operators and tourists also boycot human zoos. Villages that offer ethically sound and sustainable tourism, are eligible for certiﬁcation by Travelife: a certiﬁcation scheme we collaborate with. This way, tourists and tour operators know which villages they can visit, that offer ethically sound and meaningful encounters between locals and tourists. We hope this also works as a catalyst for villages that are not eligible yet. This way, we hope that in a few years, human zoo's in Thailand (and on longer term, in the whole world), are a thing of the past and that Kayan and other tribes can decide if and how they want to work in tourism. So that tourism is not exploitive, but empowering them. In addition, we would like to organize media campaigns to shed light on these ‘human zoos’. For now, we are focusing on enabling more villages to make this change towards community-based tourism.
Get in touch with us!
We are looking for several types of stakeholders to work with. These can be
- Touroperators offering tours in the mountainous north of Thailand
- (local) governments
- Organizations that can provide funding for this project
- Other relevant stakeholders like, for example, UNESCO
So, do you think that community-based tourism could be something to work towards, or are you interested in another way of collaborating? We are more than happy to get in touch with you! Please leave a comment or match your item at the bottom of this page.
Our project is getting more attention. Therefore, the Lonely Planet wrote an article about the village: https://www.lonelyplanet.nl/reistips-and-trends/geen-human-zoo-taferelen-in-huay-pu-keng
Also, Destination Asia offers the CBT project to the 1000+ overseas agents they work with:
And Matador Network made a short documentary about the village Huay Pu Keng: https://vimeo.com/249650269
For more info, see our website: https://www.fairtourism.nl/en/