Community Empowerment to Enhance Community-based Tourism Potential
Keywords:Community Potential, Community Empowerment, Tourism, Volcano
Community-based tourism can help strengthen communities as people take part in setting development direction, managing resources, and gaining benefits from tourism. This study aimed to examine community potential and empower communities to enhance tourism potential. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed with an emphasis on participation, and the study was conducted in six communities around the volcanic areas in Thailand. The findings revealed that before joining the research project, the communities had different levels of tourism potential, ranging from fair to excellent. In addition, the research project helped empower the communities by 1) establishing community tourism groups through the process of community participation, 2) educating people on tourism resources by experts, 3) improving tourism management with the help of mentoring communities, 4) improving tourism activities based on local wisdom and culture, and 5) building tourism community networks to promote community empowerment. Having taken part in the empowerment activities, five out of six communities had better assessment results and were ready to serve as tourism communities in the future.