Voices in the Village: An inquiry into tourism, communities and community-based tourism in Cambodia.

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In this era of mass tourism, phenomena such as sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, rural tourism, ecotourism, pro-poor tourism and community-based tourism have received increased attention from both practitioners and researchers. If established and managed correctly, these alternative forms of sustainable tourism have the potential to substantially contribute toward community development and to provide visitors with unique, often educational experiences. This pathway is not without problems, for the literature also reveals that the majority of community-based tourism projects fail within the first two years of operation. In considering the benefits of sustainable tourism, in particular community-based tourism, as a mechanism for rural development and poverty alleviation, I have wanted to inquire how to better understand the merits and failings of community-based tourism in the context of the community itself and tourism development in a specific country. In attempting to achieve this, the aim of my research asked what we might learn regarding tourism development, communities and particularly community-based tourism as one viable means of sustainable rural development in Cambodia. Moreover, how might my contribution be utilized by others with respect to this aspect of tourism?
In order to understand and document the relationship between tourism development, rural communities and community-based tourism in Cambodia, I firstly draw upon a document and historical analysis that identifies a conceptual understanding of community development through tourism, particularly community-based tourism. I then provide a detailed narrative that concerns itself with the evolution, definitions and management of community-based tourism. The second part of this thesis focuses specifically on Cambodia. I investigate the social fabric of Cambodian communities, and in doing so, identify assets that may be beneficial toward sustainable tourism development. I continue through providing an analysis of tourism development in Cambodia from the iron age to contemporary times with reference to the evolution of sustainable tourism. An ethnographic study of community-based tourism is then utilized for the purposes of providing an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of stakeholders within the community-based tourism environment.
My inquiry concludes by arguing that community-based tourism in Cambodia provides an opportunity to substantially contribute to sustainable rural development. Such development remains inhibited, however, because of weak government policy, minimal human capital in rural communities, a lack of training and development programs for those community members who are involved in community-based tourism, and the utilization of accreditation and certification mechanisms. There is also an over-reliance on external funding and expertise. Of critical importance was my discovery that the role of kinship, bonds and relationships in Cambodian rural communities has played a significant role in the way social capital has assisted the development and operational longevity of these projects. This in turn provides evidence that in Cambodia social capital is an essential foundational component of community-based tourism projects. My thesis contributes a critical understanding of tourism development in Cambodia, with specific reference to the social fabric of communities, government policy and planning, and rural development through community-based tourism.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Australian National University
  • D'arcy, Paul , Supervisor, External person
Award date19 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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