Potjana Suansri, founder of Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) is one of the true pioneers of community based tourism in Asia and the world. She has worked tirelessly, and practically, for over 30 years, towards greater local community participation and benefit from tourism. Her work, both as a thought leader and practical field worker started decades before ‘CBT’ and ‘local experiences’ gained mainstream support in public and private sectors. During this time, Potjana maintained an unwavering focus on learning by doing, and demonstrating how to drive tourism benefits to local communities. This work was conducted irrespective of funding trends and access to resources.
Now, Potjana works for the UN International Trade Center (ITC), continuing her work for the benefit of local communities, tourism businesses and tourists. As ever, she is a modest, generous person who is happy to work hard in the background and does not prioritize self-promotion. However, her true role as a pioneer, thought and action leader for local benefits in ASEAN tourism, paving the way for later government, private sector, academic and NGO programs is massive.
Without Potjana’s work, there is no doubt that our whole region would have far less knowledge about how to do CBT well. Potjana Suansri absolutely deserves recognition and appreciation as a true Mekong Hero.