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J Sustain Res. 2024;6(2):e240022.


Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Development: Capacity Building for Community; The Case Study in Cam Kim, Hoi An, Vietnam

Thi Huong Ngo 1,2,* , Nadine Tournois 2, Thi Le Tram Dinh 3, Manh Trinh Chu 4, Cong Sanh Phan 4

1 The University of Danang—University of Science and Education, Danang 550000, Vietnam

2 IAE Graduate School of Management, Université Côte d'Azur, Nice 06300, France

3 The University of Danang—University of Economics, Danang 550000, VietNam

4 Research & International Co-operation Division, Management Board of Cham Islands Marine Protected Area, Quang Nam 560000, VietNam

* Correspondence: Thi Huong Ngo.

Received: 21 March 2024; Accepted: 22 May 2024; Published: 27 May 2024


CBT has been applied and encouraged to develop in Vietnam, especially in rural and mountainous areas. CBT development meets sustainable development goals for localities and creates connections between tourism and the community. In CBT development, the community needs help to raise awareness of tourism activities and be empowered to give plans for tourism development. The study was conducted in Cam Kim, one of Hoi An rural areas. People participated in two workshops, and the PRA method was applied with two main tools: SWOT analysis and community art to achieve the above goals. Through workshops, people assessed local tourism conditions by analyzing SWOT models and were empowered to build local tourism programs. Following the above methods, a survey on people’s willingness to participate in future tourism activities was conducted. The results show that people support local tourism development and want to participate in classes to improve the quality of tourism services.

KEYWORDS: sustainable development; community-based tourism; empowering realization; Hoi An


Community-based tourism (CBT) is no longer a new form in many countries, including Vietnam. According to the ASEAN CBT Standard and its handbooks (2016) [1], CBT is “a form of tourism that seeks to empower communities, manage tourism growth and achieve community aspirations relating to their well-being, and includes economic, social and environmentally sustainable development”. CBT is considered a niche tourism experience as a mechanism to distribute the benefits and as a tool for increasing income levels in the local community [1]. Also, it plays a role in poverty alleviation by improving residents’ quality of life, ultimately contributing to the sustainability of community development [2–6]. There are good examples of how community-based tourism can diversify tourism, help innovate local community capacity and enterprise, and help contribute to alternative forms of sustainable tourism utilizing local culture and heritage. However, CBT is a complex process [7–9] and often fails to bring the idea into reality. There have been different levels of success among the implemented CBT worldwide [10–12]. This phenomenon has instigated more research on the factors of success or failure of CBT projects [12,13]. There is also a critical need to determine how CBT can be developed successfully and support sustainable local development.

In the development of an area, rural communities are always the target of development. Customs, traditions, culture, and behavior of the local community are always essential reasons to attract tourists. Locals also play a vital role in all stakeholders involved in tourism [14–16]. The engagement of the local community in planning, developing, and supervising tourism is the critical element of a sustainable tourism development strategy [17–19]. Studies have shown that prioritizing the needs and benefits of the local community would result in more significant social development [17,20]. In particular, the development of tourism in rural areas and the participation of local people in tourism can become the driving force for economic growth, resource preservation, cultural restoration, insurance of equitableness on welfare, and diversification of tourism products in the localities [21,22].

When developing tourism, people’s awareness and understanding of the CBT model must be developed. From there, people will be aware of their position in the tourism development process and be conscious of protecting the environment, preserving local cultural values, and improving their skills in serving tourists. Reality shows that CBT development in many regions of the world has failed, including due to local resources. People participate but need to play a core role or have support for tourism development [23,24].

Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, draws many tourists annually. However, this popularity has led to local overload, with the old town struggling to cope with the influx. To alleviate this pressure, the research proposes the development of CBT in the city’s suburbs. This approach will not only diversify tourism products but also positively impact to social culture, the environment, and the economy of residents. The study, conducted in Cam Kim, Hoi An, focuses on the relationship between local communities and CBT development. Despite the potential for CBT, the sector has faced numerous challenges recently. To address these issues, the research employs the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method. This method is crucial in discussing tourism development strategies and promoting community participation in planning and implementing sustainable tourism development.

The structure of this study is as follows. Section 2 is Literature Review; Section 3 is Materials and methods, which introduces the research area and describes the methodology, tools, and methods used; Section 4 is the Results, presenting the study results. The last section covers the main discussions and conclusions of this research, its limitations, and future research directions.


The Role of Local Communities in CBT Development

Scientists emphasize that tourism development will be meaningless if it does not bring socio-economic and environmental benefits to local people. Besides, tourism can only develop sustainably with the participation and support of the community. Therefore, the local role in developing a tourist destination is essential, especially in the CBT model [23–26]. Tourism development creates a direct connection between tourism and the destination community.

Developing CBT means that the community has control over tourism and has a leading role in creating and providing tourism products and services [27]. From there, it is possible to maximize benefits for local people and minimize the negative impacts of tourism. On the other hand, community tourism often receives support from organizations that train local people to be capable of doing tourism [7,28].

One of the critical influences of the community on tourism development is their attitudes because attitudes link to behavior [23,29,30]. Positive attitudes will lead to supporting behaviors, participation of the community in tourism projects, and raising awareness of preserving local tourism resources. At the same time, the community will understand tourism development opportunities in their area; they could plan and market tourism instead of waiting for the chance from tourism agencies or organizations. However, people will also have other attitudes if tourism negatively impacts culture and the environment. Tourism policies and programs will not be supported or even developed.

Besides attitudes, people’s participation in tourism activities has also been emphasized and widely recognized in tourism studies [31–36]. Studies have shown that communities are one of the factors in the historical process of a region, so they should be the main actors in tourism development [24,37]. Besides, along with natural or cultural attractions, and increases the tourist experience [24,38].

The level of local community involvement is closely linked to the unique characteristics of each destination. Arnstein (1969) [39] believed that three levels show local participation: little participation, participation, and effective participation. At the “low participation” level, the local community only plays the role of being approached and participating at the stage designated by stakeholders, from which they can receive training and understand more about CBT. At the “participation” level, local communities are provided with information, prioritized in tourism development decisions, and consulted on related issues. At the highest level of “effective participation”, local communities have the power and complete initiative in building partnerships and, together with stakeholders, make critical decisions about tourism development.

Tourism Planning and CBT Development

Community participation is essential to sustainable CBT development [19,40–42]. Swarbrooke (1999) [43] believes that local communities should actively participate in planning, management, and other related activities in the local tourism development process. The process of CBT development creates tourism products within the community based on harnessing local natural and cultural resources. It turns a locality into a tourist asset, catering to the needs of tourists. However, tourism is not solely about geography; it is deeply intertwined with the local social system, particularly the indigenous knowledge about geography, culture, and community livelihoods. Hence, local communities must be involved from the early stages of tourism development projects to decide whether tourism should be developed in their communities or not. In the context of CBT, communities should be seen as active partners in tourism development projects, addressing the interplay between community development and the changes that tourism development brings [44]. When local people are well-informed about all the aspects of tourism, they can make informed decisions about their participation in tourism activities. The critical requirement is that people commit to using available local resources responsibly. This approach allows locals to anticipate and monitor the impacts of tourism and make necessary adjustments to foster sustainable tourism. This not only gives people control, management, and planning but also enables them to reap the benefits of tourism [42,45].

Scholars also emphasize the importance of qualitative local participation in terms of understanding and knowledge to plan and evaluate tourism development projects [4,45,46]. However, the question remains: What information, knowledge, and skills should be imparted to the community to encourage their active participation in tourism development activities? This is where the significance of organizing seminars becomes apparent. These seminars serve as a platform to enhance people’s awareness and understanding of the importance of tourism, the meaning of tourism development, and, most importantly, the intricacies of tourism management and marketing. This knowledge sharing is crucial as it equips the community with the necessary tools to plan and develop tourism confidently, intellectually, and ethically.

Participatory Rapid Appraisal Method: Empowering Realization

Community development is considered a core goal from the perspective of sustainable development. Addressing community challenges and involving communities in tourism projects will meet many sustainable development goals. However, local communities often face difficulties and conflicts of interest in practice. The researchers argue that local experience in tourism is negligible, and lack of expertise and capacity is one factor that significantly affects the effectiveness of tourism development at the local level [11,47,48]. Therefore, the community needs to acquire management, business, and marketing skills through training courses to ensure they penetrate the market and gain a larger share of the benefits from the tourism industry [7,49].

The specific method used is Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA). The PRA method was born to overcome weaknesses in rural development projects before the 1970s [50]. The failure came from too high costs and many human resources; Governments and NGOs use top-down methods without consulting the direct beneficiaries. The level of people's participation was often low and, in many cases, non-existent. PRA is particularly relevant in community development because it involves the working group and community members in all aspects of research, use of research tools, information collection, and analysis of results. Data collected in community-based participatory research is often accurate and valuable. On-site analysis immediately clarifies what information needs to be added before leaving the scene. The main advantages of PRA over conventional survey research are a high level of community participation, short duration, and low cost [51].

PRA is a complementary tool to traditional research methods in exploratory studies, planning, and evaluation of projects for various fields such as agriculture, rural development, management of natural resources, factory development and medical care, and public distribution programs. In addition, PRA can be applied to all fields related to community development such as farming, animal husbandry, credit, education, gender development, family planning, etc. In Vietnam, from the end of the 80s, more and more international organizations (such as the World Bank [WB], UNDP, FAO, IFAD, FADO, IDRC, etc.) and domestic research used PRA to develop and implement programs and projects at many different scales on natural resource management, agricultural and rural development.

PRA is applied to help a community having difficulty understanding reality and finding solutions; Rapid assessment investigation with the participation of people related to the situation in which they are facing difficulties; Describes and evaluates a community’s ability to mobilize, organize, and participate in supporting community activities [51,52].


The Research Area

Cam Kim commune is one of four communes in the suburbs of Hoi An City, about 1.5 km south of Hoi An city center (see Figure 1). Cam Kim is a river village located downstream of Thu Bon River. This riverside land has many landscapes, including creeks, hills, dunes, green fields, and beautiful village roads. Many heritage sites have been formed over many periods, with ancient architectural designs blending with natural space. In the past, Cam Kim’s economy was entirely developed in handicrafts, fishery, and agriculture. The community’s traditional culture here demonstrates the uniqueness of the river village space and its multi-occupations, such as carpentry, masonry, mat weaving, silk weaving, trading of gourd boats, etc. Cam Kim also has dishes that are typical of the river environment.

Regard to nature, Cam Kim has a wetland ecosystem that is vital for biodiversity and human life. The Cam Kim nipa palm forest plays a crucial role in environmental balance by absorbing CO2, providing O2, and acting as a natural self-cleaning system, mitigating pollutants. Within this habitat, an array of higher plants, some with ecological, medicinal, and food value, can be found, along with various species of birds, including various water birds and migratory species commonly associated with wetlands. Furthermore, the ecosystem sustains different species of fish, lower plants, and zooplankton. These ecosystems contribute to biodiversity and environmental purification.

Cam Kim tourism strongly developed in the past. Although there is much potential for tourism development, such as landscape, ecosystem, and tangible and intangible heritage, Cam Kim tourism has only focused on Kim Bong carpentry village. Over time, the craft village has shown signs of fading, so tourism can not develop as before. In addition, the competition from other tourist destinations inside and outside the city, a lack of human resources, poor tourism products, and inadequate tourism development policies are the reasons for the failure of tourism. The urgent need for sustainable development of the Cam Kim area necessitates a comprehensive solution. These solutions aim to protect the environmental landscape, aquatic resources, and cultural values of Cam Kim by employing a community-based management model. Such an approach is deemed essential, not only to address environmental concerns but also to create sustainable living conditions for the local population. Effectively harnessing the natural, cultural, and economic potentials of Cam Kim for tourism is crucial for its sustainable development.

Figure 1. Location map of the case study areas. Source: Authors’ contribution.
Research Design

The study places particular importance on two workshops. The first workshop provided an overview of tourism planning, and CBT discussed conditions relating to local tourism development. The second workshop is a platform for the community to express their goals through tour construction and their willingness to participate in CBT. This participatory approach is crucial in ensuring that the community’s voice is heard and that their needs are met in the tourism development process. The concluding section of the study discusses the compatibility between community and tourism development, supported by PRA tools.

People in Cam Kim commune were invited to participate in two workshops. People range in age from 25 to 70, with 60 members. At the community learning place, experts explained to people the meaning and importance of CBT development and the opportunities for people in the future. The community was divided into five groups, with group leaders who had experience working in the community. Experts use two specific methods for community discussion. The PRA method was used with two main tools.

SWOT methodology

SWOT is an analysis method that combines internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, challenges) factors to provide development directions for research subjects. Using the SWOT tool, people analyze internal and external factors of the locality to identify strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-challenges, and combinations as a basis for building orientation and solutions to develop CBT effectively. The community was introduced and clearly explained the purpose of SWOT analysis, instructed to draw the SWOT matrix and the meaning of the words S (Strengths), W (weaknesses), O (Opportunities), and T (Threats risks). The expert continues to guide the community in answering questions related to the local’s existing internal resources, the community’s ability to develop tourism, and their difficulties and challenges (Figure 2). Then, the questions applied to SWOT analysis were:

How can we use our strengths?

How do we recognize and overcome our weaknesses?

How do we exploit the opportunities that come our way?

How do we prevent risks?

Figure 2. Discuss about SWOT model (the authors, 2024).
Community arts methodology: Tour construction

Worldwide, community arts theory and practice have been linked to civil and human rights advocates, most notably Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. In Australia, research into community arts highlights the social benefits of the practice and the government’s role in its evolution. Community arts empower people to express themselves and share their stories. As a practice, community arts has demonstrated its ability to have a positive impact on the health and well-being of communities and stimulate artistic innovation and vibrancy.

For Cam Kim, community art aims to help the community know the potential and values of their local resources in tourism development. Groups were asked to map their local resources and develop a tourism program using those resources, as well as demonstrate the role of the community in each stage of the tour (Figure 3). The drawings became a discussion stimulus. Community art is an empowering method, allowing people to express how they imagine and affirm their role in local development. After discussing the tour, the Cam Kim community participated in a trial tour, going to previously selected and drawn resource points (Figure 4). This stage helped the community realize their imagination and feel more deeply about their capacity to develop local tourism.

Figure 3. Presenting the tour (the authors, 2024).
Figure 4. Experience the tour (the authors, 2024).
Sampling and data collection

This study used a qualitative approach to raise local awareness of the value of tourism resources, future tourism development, and the impacts of this development on local communities with specific methods of SWOT and community art. Once these methods are implemented, the study surveyed the community’s views on future tourism development. The questionnaires have two parts: The first was used to collect information from the community about their age, education level, current occupation, etc. The second surveyed people’s attitudes towards tourism development and their hopes for the government. This main survey applied the Likert scale, in which 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree to evaluate each variable. The Likert scale has predetermined answers at five levels, so respondents can easily give their opinions, creating favorable conditions for processing information after the survey.


The SWOT of CBT at Cam Kim

The SWOT modeling process has helped people be aware of local internal characteristics, including strengths and weaknesses, and recognize external opportunities and challenges that impact tourism development. Each group comes up with a SWOT model after a focused discussion among members. The results represent people’s concepts and assessments formed from the living environment, local knowledge, and experience accumulated over time. The SWOT model shows people’s motivation to identify and solve problems related to the community’s natural and cultural characteristics and capabilities. Cam Kim’s tourism potential has also been identified. The SWOT method was a way to gather information and for people to rethink their communities.

The results of the SWOT model showed that people gave some opinions on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges for local tourism development as Table 1:

Table 1. SWOT model result from local’s discussion.

Those identification results of internal and external factors indicated Cam Kim has potential and strength to take advantage of opportunities to become new tourism destination developed by the community. Strategies that can be developed and implemented for sustainable tourism management.

Tour Construction

The tourism mapping process empowers local people to select and describe their essential community resources, which are the backbone of tourism products. The diversity in tourism maps across groups revealed the wealth of resources that can be harnessed for tourism. These variations also spark engaging discussions as each group’s unique perspective becomes a focal point. People were also aware that CBT is not a final product but a dynamic process that leverages local resources and knowledge to create sustainable tourism.

The community chose products mainly based on the local river ecosystem, traditional craft village products, and cultural and historical relics. According to locals, Cam Kim is known as a land with many cultural and natural values. With an island terrain, Cam Kim is surrounded by the Thu Bon River, creating diversity landscapes, fauna, and flora resources. Tourists traveling by boat on the river can see the Nipa palm forest and many other plants, different aquatic species, and birds, helping visitors gain more experiences and knowledge about the local ecosystem. Cam Kim has many craft villages with long traditions, such as carpentry, mat making, wooden clogs, and bamboo weaving. In particular, carpentry has a long history, and many of the village’s products are famous domestically and worldwide. The village has many artisans to whom the state has awarded noble titles. Many cultural values of the villages, such as craft village festivals and ancestral worship beliefs, are still preserved. The village also has many relics of cultural and historical value, such as ancient houses, community houses, and temples. These relics also have artistic value, demonstrating the talent and ingenuity of the Kim Bong people in decorating and building houses. In addition, people wanted to use local cuisine to serve tourists. Local knowledge about medicinal plants, how to exploit aquatic products on the river and farming experience were also seen as tourism products. This emphasis on local resources and knowledge will enrich the tourism experience and pave the way for a sustainable future where the community’s unique offerings will be celebrated and preserved.

After discussion, people were invited to move and experience some tourist destinations in the travel program outlined by themselves. At the sites, under the guidance of experts, people share their knowledge about the history of the land, the craft villages, the cultural and historical values of the relics, the value of the ecosystem, local customs, etc. Through this, people were encouraged to be proud and love the land they live in.

Level of Community’s Willingness to Participate in Tourism Activities

The survey of the community’s willingness to participate in tourism activities was done after using the SWOT and Community Art methods. This helped evaluate people’s awareness and attitudes towards local tourism development and the effectiveness of the above two methods. The socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents are presented in the Table 2.

Table 2. Socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents by counties (%).

The majority of respondents were 56 years or older, many were over 60 years old, and a small remaining group was 36–55. Most local people have low education levels; they have yet to study at the high school level. People have lived in Cam Kim for over 20 years and are closely attached to the nature and culture of the area. People’s current economic types are primarily related to rivers and seas. The fishermen used to make grinding nets to exploit all creatures of fish and shrimps, affecting biodiversity and the sustainable development of nature. Some people participate in rowing boats for tourism in neighboring areas, but their income is low because they only participate seasonally. Most women work as housewives or do small businesses locally, while the rest work in agriculture or handicrafts at home. Through in-depth interviews with people, people's lives are still tricky, and their income is unstable. Cam Kim is also considered the poorest commune in Hoi An.

Figure 5. The hierarchical criteria for the survey.

The survey participants responded to a questionnaire with two main contents: Community support for tourism development and People’s wishes about local government policies on CBT development (Figure 5).

Figure 6. The result of data analysis.

The results of the data analysis are illustrated in Figure 6. Regarding the content of community support for tourism development, 100% of participants agreed or completely agreed with the criteria asked. As for the criteria, “people support the development of local infrastructure” received a lower level of complete agreement than the remaining criteria. People think infrastructure development is very good and will help improve people’s quality of life. However, people want infrastructure development not to affect or disrupt the village’s landscape.

With the people’s desire for the local government, they are willing to participate in foreign language classes and training to improve the quality of tourist services, such as welcoming skills, interpretation skills, and guidance. People also want to participate in courses on making souvenirs developed from local traditional crafts to diversify tourism products. Finally, 100% of people want to receive support from the local authority in the tourism development process, for example, by providing guiding documents to support and resolve difficulties in the tourism development process.


Research worldwide has shown that the development of CBT faces many challenges, the leading cause of which comes from a lack of knowledge about how to operate this type of tourism. Ngonya (2015) [53] pointed out challenges in CBT development in the Arusha region, Arumeru district, Tanzania, from lack of government and community support to poor infrastructure, marketing strategies, stability, and poor customer care service. The study emphasizes the need for community participation and facility improvements to promote CBT development. Meseret Tamir (2020) [54] examined the challenges of CBT development in Guwagusa and Banja Woredas, Awi Administrative Zone. The research revealed that during the implementation and running process of CBT projects in the study area, there was a lack of knowledge, interest, and perception of the local community towards CBT and a low level of attitude of the community towards CBT. Community development is considered a core goal from the perspective of sustainable development. Addressing community challenges and involving communities in tourism projects will meet many sustainable development goals. However, local communities often face difficulties and conflicts of interest in practice. Researchers argued that local experience in tourism is negligible, and lack of expertise and capacity is one factor that significantly affects the effectiveness of tourism development at the local level. Therefore, the community needs to acquire management, business, and marketing skills through training courses to ensure they penetrate the market and gain a larger share of the benefits from the tourism industry. Recognizing the importance of community in CBT development, Yuthasak (2022) [55] introduced some methods such as foresight tools, community arts, and a community goal-setting technique for putting the authority of future tourism development in the hands of the local community, which is appropriate for tourism development in rural Thailand. This study gave the local community valuable tools to design their future development by helping its members understand what tourism is and how it impacts their community.

This article reviews approaches and practices for developing CBT in Vietnam. It fills a crucial gap in tourism planning and highlights the transformative nature of CBT development. In the initial phase of the CBT development process, the research aims to enlighten people about CBT and enhance their ability to engage in tourism activities in Cam Kim commune, Hoi An City. The method employed was PRA, with SWOT analysis and community art as the main tools, specifically designed to outline the tour and experience that tour program. Following the implementation of these methods, the effectiveness was assessed by surveying the community’s willingness to participate in tourism activities. The findings revealed a high level of enthusiasm among the community to engage in local tourism activities and express a desire to partake in skills training classes on tourism development. This underscored the effectiveness of the method used in helping the community understand local tourism development conditions, potential resources, and their role in tourism development plans. It is crucial and enlightening that the community recognizes the need for tourism continuity and the ultimate goal of sustainable development.

The research on raising community awareness in a rural area of Southeast Asia not only contributes to the theoretical understanding of community research but also provides practical examples that can be directly applied in teaching or research at universities. In addition to this, the research findings offer valuable insights for managers, equipping them with a deeper understanding of the community’s desires and enabling them to formulate appropriate policies for local tourism development. Specifically, It is necessary to get the assistance of professional and academic bodies from the relevant authorities to assist the community in raising awareness of CBT and promoting local tourism both nationally and internationally. In addition, adequate linguistic and communication training schemes, tour guide courses, and service delivery courses should be given free of charge to the CBT participants of the area to enhance local skills.

Although the study has many functional, theoretical, and practical implications, there are also some limitations. First, the sample is limited and may only represent some of the community. Although this study did not aim at old adults, the targeted samples were mainly older than 50 years old. This group of people faces many limitations in developing tourism services. Future research needs to attract young people considered key workers to ensure sustainability in tourism development. Second, this study was conducted in Cam Kim, which may have many unique tourist resources. The research framework may not apply to other destinations in Hoian, so, an extended comparative study of multiple rurals is needed. Finally, future research needs to diversify methods to help improve community capacity and be flexible in using different PRA method tools to bring high efficiency to each rural area specifically.


All data generated from the study are available in the manuscript.


Conceptualization, THN and MTC; methodology, THN, MTC, and CSP; formal analysis, THN; investigation, THN and CSP; writing—original draft preparation, THN; writing—review and editing, THN, NT and TLTD; supervision, NT and TLTD.


The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


All authors thank the editor and reviewers for their valuable feedback, which significantly improved this manuscript.

























































How to Cite This Article

Ngo TH, Tournois N, Dinh TLT, Chu MT, Phan CS. Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Development: Capacity Building for Community; The Case Study in Cam Kim, Hoi An, Vietnam. J Sustain Res. 2024;6(2):e240022.

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