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Mr. Peter Richards is currently Marketing Manager for the Thai NGO, The Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST). REST have worked for over a decade assisting local Thai communities to develop ‘Community based Tourism’ (CBT) projects. Peter is principally responsible for identifying appropriate markets and promotional partners for REST’s partner CBT communities. He is working in collaboration with REST’s Project Coordinator and local CBT club members to develop a model of ‘participatory CBT marketing’, to produce CBT information and promotion resources, and to facilitate the integration of CBT programs into the itineraries of responsible travel partners. Peter also delivers CBT Guide Training to local community guides, professional Thai licensed guides and foreign tour leaders.
After graduating from University, Peter traveled in South East Asia. Inspired by the diversity and culture of Thailand, Peter applied for a job at a local school in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Peter spent a year teaching English to secondary school Thai students. During this time, Peter became very interested in Thai life and culture. He spent his free time exploring, learned to speak Thai and studied Thai and ethnic minority lifestyles and cultures.
Between June 2000 and January 2003, Peter worked as a Small Group Tour Leader for Intrepid Travel. He lead groups of cultural tourists and students to remote areas of South East Asia. Peter’s responsibilities as a tour leader were very diverse. He gave advice and coordinated activities, accommodation, transportation, documentation and safety. Above all, he dedicated himself to facilitating cultural exchange and mutual respect between hosts and guests.
Subsequently, Peter became the Regional Responsible Tourism Coordinator. His task was to lift the Responsible Travel standards of Intrepid’s trips in Thailand and the Lao PDR. He trained Intrepid Travel Small Group Leaders in Responsible Travel Practice; collaborated with local operators and local community members to develop guidelines for Intrepid guests and Group Leaders; developed Thai and Hill tribe language resources; developed ‘Responsible Travel Itineraries,’ and identified grass-roots community organizations and local NGO’s for Intrepid Travel to work with and support.
In March 2002, Peter attended the International Year of Ecotourism regional conference in Chiang Mai, and met the Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST), who were the organizers. From 2000 until 2004, Peter worked as a part-time volunteer for REST. He translated project proposals from Thai to English; developed promotional materials and translated and edited project reports. In 2004, Peter was invited to assist REST full-time. He now concentrates his energies on Marketing CBT and Guide Training.
Peter has facilitated and co-facilitated training, in English and Thai, on a variety of CBT-related issues. Target training groups have included government officers, NGO staff, local community members and students.
Challenges in marketing community based ecotourism products & services
The Responsible, Ecological, Social Tours Project (REST), Mr. Peter Richards, Marketing Manager
This paper is based on the direct experiences of the Thai NGO, Responsible, Ecological, Social Tours Project (REST). For over a decade, REST have assisted local Thai communities to develop and market small-scale ’Community based Tourism’ (CBT) projects, based on their own unique contexts and needs. REST provide capacity building support at every stage of CBT development, from product development to marketing and monitoring.
The paper begins with a brief introduction to Thai Community based Tourism (CBT). Subsequently, the paper discusses significant opportunities and challenges which REST have experienced while assisting our partner communities to market their CBT products. In particular, the paper focuses on challenges linking CBT projects with national and international tour operators.
The paper ends by offering some practical suggestions for dealing with specific CBT marketing challenges, and some broader recommendations for ways to support CBT marketing at the national and international levels.