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Abstract

This case study evaluates the outcomes of rural community-based tourism in Nicaragua (five communities) and Guatemala (four communities), as an alternative to more mainstream tourist development. Despite strong community organisations (cooperatives) and some tourism natural assets (caves and culture) – and, in the case of Nicaragua, reasonable infrastructure and access to markets – the financial sustainability of initiatives has been badly affected by an inability to link with the main distribution channels (tour operators and hoteliers). The initial investment costs are high and barriers to entry are significant. Notwithstanding poor tourist flows, these have brought some economic and other benefits to the destination areas.

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