Paths to the Market: analysing tourism distribution channels for community-based tourism
This research investigates distribution channels as a critical business mechanism for community-based tourism (CBT) by connecting CBT projects with the market. Specifically, it examines the distribution channels structure of a culture & heritage focused CBT project in Cambodia, explores the key influencing factors behind the observed structure, and develops recommendations for improved economic sustainability. The paper is informed by 21 interviews which were conducted with respondents from Banteay Chhmar CBT, key private sector businesses, NGOs, local and central government, and CBT experts. The examination of the distribution channel structure reveals considerable channel diversity which sees both direct and a variety of indirect channels included in the distribution mix. Due to the community-guided nature of the CBT project, intermediaries had a very strong presence in the distribution structure and maintained both direct and multi-layered indirect channels with consumers. Five factors were identified to underlie the observed distribution structure: commissionable product, product characteristics and market access, information and communication technology, partnership issues, and community capacity. Based on these findings a range of recommendations are proposed that seek to improve the distribution channels related economic sustainability of the CBT project.