Community-Based Tourism: Herost pilot mission in Chiang Mai, Thailand

​On February 25 to March 4, 2019, the Herost team undertook a pilot mission focused on Community-Based Tourism in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Since Oct. 2018, the Herost project has been developed by Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations, and Louis HAAG, Managing Director of GreenBIM Engineering, as a global online platform aimed at sharing sustainable, community-based travel experiences, and associated services such as strategic and operations consulting and training.

Together with Korea, Thailand was selected as pilot country for the implementation of the project, whereas the Great Mekong sub-region was selected as pilot region.

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CBT Trip to Tailue Luangnue

With the support of Ms. Jaranya DAENGNOY, Director of the Thailand Community-Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) in Chiang Mai, Catherine and Louis started their mission with a one-day trip hosted by the CBT Tailue Luangnue group, on Feb. 27. 2019.
The program included several CBT experiences such as: making Kao-Kab, a staple Tai lue food and snack, visiting a local workshop producing wooden figurines to be sold as souvenirs, understanding the design and fabrication process of the figurines, and then painting them, cooking a  traditional Thai meal, making Tai Lue’s style  bag, dressing with Tai Lue costumes, etc.
​The trip was concluded by a discussion with the CBT group leader, to learn more about the Tai lue’s history and traditional ways of life and understand the needs, expectations, and challenges of the CBT group in the process of designing, developing and marketing CBT activities, and involve other members of the local community.

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GSTC APAC Conference in Chiang Mai
On Feb. 27 to March 2nd, 2019, the Herost team attended the 2019 GSTC Asia-Pacific Sustainable Tourism Conference in Chiang Mai, hosted by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – GSTC and DASTA, the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (a Thailand Public Authority).
As part of the track “Quality Tourism: Delivering Sustainable Quality Experiences” on March 1,  Catherine moderated the panel session “Community Benefit through Tourism”, in collaboration with the following panelists:

  • Ms. Jaranya DAENGNOY, Director, CBT-I,
  • Mr. Tung PAKONGSUP (Panot), Asia Field Manager, Planeterra Foundation,
  • Dr. Jaturong POKHARATSIRI, Professor of Architecture, Thammasat University, Thailand; Vice-President of ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee,
  • Mr. Nithi (Nutty) SUBHONGSANG, Co-founder, Nutty Adventures.

Based on the experiences and cases presented by the group, the main conclusions of the session were:

  1. By its very nature, the tourism experience is local and local communities should be put at the core of all tourism development, management and marketing initiatives.
  2. As the most desirable form of sustainable tourism, community-based tourism should be mainstream and universal, as it can be implemented both in rural and urban areas, whatever their levels of development.
  3. Community benefits through tourism development are usually not immediate and not permanent, and patience and vigilance are therefore needed.
  4. Local communities should not depend on tourism as their main livelihood but rather consider it as a complementary income-generating activity.

Moreover, Catherine shared two papers that have been a source of inspiration for the Herost project: 1. Community-based tourism: From a local to a global push and 2. Development of a conflict management model as a tool for improved project outcomes in community based tourism.

Post-conference tour in Chom Thong
On March 2nd, a post-conference tour was organized for the participants in Chom Thong district in Chiang Mai province. Focused on culture, nature, and community-based experiences, the tour included a hiking in Ban Mae Klang Luang, a village inhabited by Karen communities. In 1985, the village replaced opium poppy crops with creative and sustainable crops such rice pad terraces, strawberry fields (hopefully forever), coffee and tea. It has also developed CBT activities including homestays and excursions led by trained local guides.The tour continued with a lunch at the Royal Agricultural Station, an excursion at Doi Inthanon National Park, and a visit of the great holy relics pagodas Nabhamethanidol and Nabhapolbhumisiri.

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Meeting at Little Urban Farm
On March 3rd, the Herost team had a meeting with Guilherme (Gui) BROTTO, Permaculture Designer at The Little Urban Farm. Originally from Brazil, Gui is currently living in Chiang Mai and is travelling across the world to promote several projects aimed at regenerating the planet, especially through education and awareness-raising, but also the promotion of innovative products such as the beeswax wraps produced by Superbee, providing an eco friendly food storage alternative to plastic wrap.

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Herost mission also included local food experiences together with Mr. Vincent VICHIT-VADAKAN, Bangkok-based journalist specialized in food, travel and lifestyle, and travel blogger Jennifer RYDER JOSLIN.
Herost is still in development stage, and we are currently gathering positive energies and creative initiatives to make our planet a better place to live, travel, and enjoy transformative, fair experiences. You too can be a Herost, do not hesitate to contact us to be part of the journey!

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