Tourism as a catalyst of regional development became a major part of policy documents and development strategies in Georgia and Armenia aiming to revitalize and diversify rural areas, especially mountain rural areas. Recently signed association agreement (AA) between the EU – Georgia (2014) and the EU- Armenia (2018) promote Community-based Tourism (CBT) and cooperation of all stakeholders in the countries and highlights “development and promotion of, inter alia, community-based tourism” as an important field of economic development.

Figure 1 Why CBT?

Despite the widespread acceptance of CBT in developing world, this form of tourism has appeared recently in post-Soviet countries; and the terms CBT is still unfamiliar on national, regional and local market. This creates a gap in terms of opportunities at the local level, in contrast to the imposed goals of the projects.  

The aim of the study is to support the sustainable development of projects in Georgia and Armenia through the conceptualization of new knowledge on the development of CBT into methodology and the development of strategic recommendations for the further sustainable tourism and community development in the Caucasus.

This research is part of the project “Transdisciplinarity for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Caucasus Region | CaucaSusT” funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) via the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR). The project addresses capacity building of universities in Armenia and Georgia in the field of trans-disciplinary teaching and research with a focus on sustainable tourism development

Study objectives and research questions

The research project contains two main topics: 1) Characteristic of rural and community based tourism functions in Georgia and Armenia; 2) CBT system analysis, Interrelation of elements/factors; core elements hampering the development of CBT in certain areas/destination.

Project objectives:

Objective 1: To identify the meaning of the concept of CBT in Caucasus countries

Objective 2: Assess and analyze CBT practices in certain mountain regions of Georgia and Armenia (case studies)

Objective 3: Define possible scenarios  and propose useful recommendations for sustainable CBT implementation in Caucasus

Research questions:

RQ 1 Under which conditions community based tourism functions in Georgia?

RQ 2 How CBT systems is functioning in certain (target) areas? What are the main components/elements consisting CBT system? How do they interrelate?

RQ 3 What kind of problems hinder CBT management and what is potential to manage it successfully?

RQ 4 How existed CBT systems can be changed after taking into consideration of leverage factors?

Study design

The study covers rural tourism as an alternative form of social-economic development and nature conservation and as a tool for community inclusion in sustainable development processes. Emphasis are given to the mountain settlements (local communities).  These three components have their own function and development concept, the integration of them creates the form of CBT.

2 Figure: Scope of the Study in terms of research components

Expected outcomes:

Research produces relevant forms of knowledge

  • System knowledge (what is the case?
  • Transformation knowledge (how can the desired knowledge be accomplished?
  • Target knowledge (what should be achieved?)


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