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Should tourists be banned from Antarctica?

This season around 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica – home to about 20 million pairs of breeding penguins. But is it ethically acceptable to go on holiday to such a pristine environment?

Enfolded in two glacial arms the bay before us sparkles ultramarine, the water flecked with ice-lilies and dotted with bits of floating icebergs.

A sheer cliff towers dark above us, flanked by snow slopes as pure white as the glistening fronts of the little Adelie penguins whose spectacled eyes peer curiously around as they waddle and toboggan about their business just a few feet away.

This is Brown Bluff on the Antarctic Peninsula and togged up in layer upon layer of fleece, topped with vivid red wetskins I am all too aware that this is not my habitat.

Which begs the question: Should I be here? Am I, just by setting foot on this extraordinary continent, disturbing a pristine environment and polluting the last great wilderness on earth?

All visitors leave a footprint, admits my tour leader, Boris Wise of One Ocean Expeditions, and we all tend to go to the same places – the accessible coastline – which is also where the penguins and seals go to breed.

Nonetheless, he argues, carefully controlled tourism is not just OK but useful.

Without a native population of its own, Antarctica needs advocates and tourism creates a global constituency of people ready to support – and indeed fund – its preservation.

Not everyone is convinced the benefits outweigh the risks but most are pragmatic.

“It is better to have a certain level of responsible tourism than for it to go under the radar,” says Jane Rumble, Head of Polar Regions at the British Foreign Office.

This season 37,000 tourists are expected in Antarctica, although 10,000 will never go ashore.

About half the tourist ships are, like ours, flagged to Antarctic Treaty countries making them legally bound by the treaty’s environmental standards.

The other half are worryingly outside this regulation but most are part of the International Maritime Organisation which is just introducing a stricter polar code, and at present all the companies regularly bringing tourists here are members of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which works closely with the Antarctic Treaty System.

As our ship crosses 60 degrees south into Antarctica we are given a mandatory briefing before gathering in the ship’s mud room for a “vacuum party”.

As a portable amp sets the rhythm with the music of aptly-named bands, Passenger and The Black Seeds, we biosecure ourselves, hoovering our clothes and kit and disinfecting our boots to ensure we introduce no alien species to Antarctica.

Does this really work, I wonder? Apparently it does. Non-native species have been accidentally introduced to the region but not, as far as anyone knows, by tourists.

In fact, research suggest that scientific programmes may have much more environmental impact than tourism.

Scientists, of course, argue that they also bring more benefit, including increasing understanding of how crucially changes in the Antarctic link to changes in the global environment.

Our ship never docks. We anchor and go ashore by biosecured dinghy.

There is no eating or smoking on land and we are instructed to take nothing away except photographs and leave nothing behind, not even a bit of yellow snow.

“So don’t drink too much at breakfast,” grins Boris.

We are told not to get any nearer than 5m from Antarctic wildlife.

But nobody told the penguins and, although we never touch, we have delightfully close encounters, especially with the confident little red-beaked gentoos.

One passenger is allowed to get as close as he likes. He is Phil McDowell, marine biologist and penguin counter from the independent research organisation Oceanites, who is hitching a lift on our ship to monitor the penguin colonies we visit.

There have been several studies comparing regularly visited colonies with those rarely in touch with humankind.

The results are strikingly inconclusive showing more-visited colonies variously doing worse, the same and even better.

Gentoos are thriving, McDowell tells me, increasing in both number and range.

Adelies, and the little helmeted chinstrap penguins, however, are in decline.

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by an average of 3C in the last 60 years, and winds have shifted, changing the pattern of the sea ice.

It is global warming that is changing the penguins’ fortunes, McDowell suggests, not tourism.

There are concerns for the future however. Tourist numbers look set to rise and membership of IAATO is voluntary.

Tourist ships are starting to offer activities like kayaking, mountaineering and diving which are potentially more invasive than simply looking.

The impact isn’t clear and more monitoring is certainly needed.

Back in London, enjoying my photos of ethereal icescapes and brilliantly comic penguins, I wonder again whether I should feel guilty for having been in Antarctica?

“No,” says polar expert Jane Rumble, “just do what you can to preserve it.”

Source: UK Progressive


 

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Ecotourism helps boost India’s tigers up 30%

India reported Tuesday that its tigers had increased by 30% over four years, a major conservation success story. The country is home to an estimated 70% of the world’s tigers and while the global total has been declining, India’s population rose from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 presently. The country’s tigers face many pressures stemming from rapid economic development, especially habitat loss and poaching. The upside, however, is that ecotourism is boosting India’s economy and saving this endangered animal, at least, in the process.

Wildlife tourism is still a small portion of overall tourism in India, but it is one of the fastest-growing at about 15% per year. The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests cited several causes for the upswing in tiger numbers, such as the establishment of a Special Tiger Protection Force, and “efforts to control poaching and initiatives to minimize human-animal conflict and encroachment.” Conservation may have a priceless inherent value, but the tangible economic effects that ecotourism bring give it real staying power. Tens of thousands of local jobs are supported, not just as tour guides or in hospitality, but in many associated industries where the largely foreign clientele has shown a demand for local, eco-friendly food, transportation, and services.

In the absence of tiger tourism, these jobs and communities with little alternatives would collapse—as almost happened in July 2012, when the Supreme Court banned all forms of tourism in the tiger-breeding, or “core,” areas of their sanctuaries. While the decision was made to compel the state governments to set up buffer zones around the core areas pursuant to previous legislation, it raised loud opposition from tour operators and conservationists. Besides the drop in tourist bookings and local job losses, the measure would also allow poachers greater maneuverability, free from the scrutiny of tourists and guides. The ban was lifted in less than three months, to great relief, but visitors are restricted to the outer 20% of the formerly forbidden core areas in order to strike a balance between responsible ecotourism and harmful intrusion.

Now different Indian states are vying to boast the largest number of tigers within their boundaries as a way of attracting tourists. Madhya Pradesh’s tourism and culture minister said in late December that losing the formal tag “tiger state” to rival Karnataka after a 2010 wildlife census had affected the state’s tourism sector negatively. But the state is trying hard to win it back, placing tiger conservation in the same league as simultaneous initiatives like improving air connectivity, setting up 16 tourism zones, and other public-private partnerships.

The other key for long-term sustainable tiger conservation encouraged by the government is local public participation in the management of reserves. The Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala is renowned for just that, with 75 “eco development communities” established outside its perimeter. Such committees help with forest protection and generate revenue through other projects during the tourism off season. Expect India’s tigers to keep increasing.

Source: Blouin News


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A fresh approach to ecotourism in Africa

When Albert Ndereki first worked at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971, beers were a mere US$ 0.04 cents each and guests were expected to wear formal attire at dinner in the evening. Guests flew directly into Chobe National Park with Botswana Airways (now Air Botswana), landing at Serondela Airstrip by the Chobe River and continued to the lodge on a well-graded road.

Today, he invites us on one of the first Ecotours now offered by Chobe Game Lodge.

From being born in the village of Satau in Northern Botswana to watching Richard Burton serenade Elizabeth Taylor in their private suite after their second wedding, Albert can tell you the stories of how he’s watched Botswana evolve from simple beginnings into the premier destination for safari goers around the world.

Albert talks about how challenging it was to establish Chobe Game Lodge, the first 5-star lodge of its kind in Botswana. “Things were very different then, many of the chefs, waiters, managers and other such people came from places like Zimbabwe, South Africa and overseas because there were no trained Batswana to employ” explains Albert.

“You know for the food waste at the lodge we used to dispose of it in a hole at the back of the lodge which we buried. During the Chobe River sunset cruises we used to tie reeds to fish so the guests could see the fish eagles fly down in front of them and take the floating fish.”

Albert noticed how the African Fish Eagle spent its days watching the boat waiting for its meal and quickly understood that the lodge had a responsibility to the environment and dreamed of changing how things were done.

The lodge now actively works towards benefitting the environment and boosting the local Chobe community. Albert now oversees the ecotourism initiatives at Chobe Game Lodge, inviting guests to explore the lodge on an ecotour and discover what goes on behind the scenes.

During the ecotour, Albert spends time talking about the community, what he calls the most important asset at Chobe Game Lodge, and how the lodge has invested in empowering Batswana from the region. More than 170 local youngsters have been trained and qualified through the Youth Trainee Development Programme initiated by the lodge in 2006.  18 of the graduates took up positions within Chobe Game Lodge while the others went on to further their career in the tourism industry.

“Our company medic ‘Doc B’ visits regularly to give us check-ups and provide any medicine we may need or even counselling and advice.  Every year when the company makes a profit our director calls us together to talk about the year and how we all worked as a team to make it successful. We also receive dividends through the company share scheme. So really for us working at Chobe Game Lodge, it is like being part of a big family community rather than just an employee” says Albert.

On the tour, Albert then introduces us to the ecotourism projects taking place at the lodge. Food waste is now processed in a large biogas plant which produces methane for cooking gas in the staff kitchens. Waste water is treated above ground with new technology that ensures all the grey water is safely recycled into irrigation. In fact, through processes involved in the reduction of rubbish, reusing of materials and recycling initiatives in place, less than 5% of the lodge’s waste ends up in the Kasane refuse facility.

Albert shows guests the first silent CO2 emission free electric game-drive vehicles and safari boats operating in Botswana. Travellers can now move silently through the Chobe National Park observing wildlife in their natural environment, undisturbed by the rumble of a diesel motor. A far cry from guests waiting on a boat for the Fish Eagle to be fed!

But it doesn’t stop there. There are so many fascinating initiatives in place that help keep the lodge environment pristine and natural. It’s incredible to see what can be achieved with a committed approach to responsible tourism and the ecotour is certainly a refreshing look into the future of safari lodges in Africa.

Albert tells us, “If I think back to when I was first offered the job at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971 to what we have now, I am extremely proud and happy to be a part of this place – so much care and attention goes into every part and I really enjoy sharing this with our guests.”

What a privileged to have such a passionate individual like Albert on a team.

Source: Travel News


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Ebola’s impact on tourism in Africa

Michelle Grant, travel and tourism manager at Euromonitor International, looks at the impact of Ebola on Africa‘s tourist industry.

Since the outbreak of Ebola was declared a global health threat by the World Health Organization in August, the outbreak in West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, has had a disproportionate impact on international tourism to Africa. Tourism declines have been noted in countries thoughts of miles away and without the virus. However, the Ebola outbreak in the hardest hit countries seems to be improving and some scientists are optimistic about containment within a year. Once containment happens and is well known, Africa can start the process of rebuilding its tourism industry.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone account for less than 1% of international tourism arrivals to Sub-Saharan countries according to Euromonitor International, but fears about the virus are impacting countries thousands of miles away from the epicenter and have no cases of Ebola. A Safaribookings.com poll of 500 tour operators in Africa found that 50% of operators experienced cancellations due to fears about the virus and 69% said that they’ve experience noticeable declines in their future bookings.

The Hotels Association of Tanzania noted in October 2014 that business had declined by 30% to 40% compared to the pervious year and that bookings for 2015 were down by 50%. South African tourism players, One&Only and Go2Africa, have also discussed declines in their business due to fears of Ebola.

There may be hope for a turnaround in the near term, though. According to the WHO’s Ebola situation report from 10 December 2014, Ebola incidence is decreasing in Liberia, increasing or stable in Sierra Leone and slightly increase in Guinea. The race is on for vaccines and anti-viral medications while tests are being done on blood from survivors—all in hopes of containing the virus. Some scientists think that the Ebola virus can be contained within a year.
Once containment happens, it is likely that the positive news will be widespread, alleviating fears about the virus in Africa. It is during this time that private and public players in Africa should work together to promote Africa as a destination to international tourists, who are much more likely to come once the threat of the virus, is contained.

Source: Travelmole

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24 June 2015.

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Two-minute guide to responsible tourism in South Africa

With easy access to its National Parks, fantastic roads, stylish cities, enticing cuisine and vibrant culture, South Africa is accessible Africa; a destination for families, first-timers and the less fearless.

Best known for the wildlife which wanders its vast parks and conservancies, it can be easy to consider a holiday to South Africa as simply a chance to tick off the ‘Big Five’ from a safari bucketlist. However we shouldn’t ignore the people, history and heritage which make this the real Rainbow Nation. Responsibletravel.com’s 2-minute guide to South Africa argues that for a truly authentic South African experience its culture shouldn’t just be a safari afterthought.

While South Africa may not have the ‘cliched’ tribal experiences found in other countries in Africa – for example encounters with the Himba in Namibia, or walks with the Maasai in Kenya – what it does have are far more real and accessible opportunities for tourists to really connect with culture, through music, delicious street food, festivals and art fairs, without the need for contrived tours.

South Africa’s townships are home to many millions of its residents, of all cultural backgrounds, and provide a real insight into modern South African life. Although these tours can be controversial, especially when tourists drive through, shooting pictures and giving nothing in return; when locally run, using local guides and with regular stops to visit markets, craftsmen and local shebeens these tours give some of South Africa’s poorest communities the chance to promote their heritage, generate income for their families and develop much-needed community initiatives.

Uthando, in Cape Town is a great example of people-led tourism products leading to genuine, grassroots development projects, and Durban’s Langa Township is now part of the city’s Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus Tours; a result of ongoing social enterprise developments around local jazz, heritage, arts culture and food.

South Africa’s very troubled recent history shapes the lives of everyone tourists will meet in the country, and to really understand the present day South Africa, tourists have to make the effort to learn more about its complex past. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a must-visit, yet moving place to put this history into the context of everyday South Africans.

Not solely a tourist museum, it also serves as a powerful place of peace and reconciliation. In its own words: “The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.”

With such an array of cultures to explore it is possible to have the holiday of a lifetime in South Africa without seeing one wild animal. Which, of course, would be a real shame. So rather than trying to touch every colour of the Rainbow Nation, try instead to become immersed in just one or two places which will give you a balance of heritage and natural history, culture and wildlife.

KwaZulu-Natal, for example, tucked away in the east of the country is an ideal destination for authentic adventures and yet often overlooked for the more famous Garden Route or Kruger National Park. The customs and beliefs of Zulu culture underpin daily life here. Learning how the past has shaped the present, tourists can take informative tours of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu battlefields at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift with a local guide, before staying in a traditional Zulu homestead or ‘Umuzi’, offering homestay experiences for visitors. This is a unique, immersive way to understand the importance traditional tribal cultures have in modern South Africa away from more contrived tourist cultural shows.

KwaZulu-Natal also has world-class wildlife, and the sought-after ‘Big Five’ in abundance. Many reserves are doing key conservation work, including Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, where anti-poaching initiatives were successful in bringing back the white rhino from the brink of extinction in the 1950s. And with rhino (and other species) numbers continuing to be threatened, ensuring that a South Africa holiday supports key conservation efforts is vitally important.

Source: Travel Mole

Three SA eco-lodges hit elite NatGeo list

Three amazing South African eco-lodges are on National Geographics elite collection of properties that makes up its first-ever travel portfolio.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, situated just inland from Gansbaai, and Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge near the Kruger National Park and Tswalu Kalahari with the closest town being Upington, are all part of the collection made up of 24 properties on six continents.

“We share and appreciate the values and high quality standards of National Geographic,” said Michael Lutzeyer, part-owner and founder of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

Two more African countries are featured. Tanzania has two lodges on the list, while Morroco made it on to the list with one lodge.

Selected through a rigorous evaluation process, each lodge offers an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices.

The initial collection serves as the starting point for National Geographic’s travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveler magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community.

National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinise the lodge’s impact on the local environment and community.

“By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognised sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet,” said Costas Christ, a world-renowned sustainable tourism expert and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges.

“Travellers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places.”

National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members are:

Fogo Island Inn, Canada

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru

Kapari Natural Resort, Greece

Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica

Lizard Island, Australia

Longitude 131°, Australia

Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada

Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica

Rosalie Bay Resort, Dominica

Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa

Sayari Camp, Tanzania

Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia

Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo

The Brando, French Polynesia

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United States

Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile

Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile

Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa

Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan

Source: iAfrica

Burundi looks at cultural tourism for community development

TANZANIA (eTN) – Looking forward to identifying strategies and best practice in cultivating sustainable, peaceful, and welcoming communities through tourism, culture, and sports, tourism stakeholders will be meeting in South Africa next month to deliberate on the potential roles of tourism, culture, and sports.

Several African tourism experts and policymakers have been invited to the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Symposium in South Africa to share positive experiences from their respective countries and communities on the potential roles of tourism in poverty eradication, conflict resolution, and creation of sustainable development through tourism.

Burundi, a small African nation, rich with diversified cultures, stands as a modal example of countries in Africa looking to develop cultural tourism as a lifeline for community development and a catalyst for poverty eradication.

Lacking abundant wildlife resources as compared to other member states of the East African Community (EAC), Burundi is boastful of rich and diversified cultures, making it the leading cultural destination nation in Eastern and Central Africa.

The government of Burundi has been committed to developing the tourism sector known as a pillar of a socio economic growth and a key player in peace consolidation, according to National Tourism Office of Burundi.

A National Strategy for a Sustainable Development of Tourism resulting from a plan of activities has been in place for three years from 2013 to 2016 and is currently being implemented.

In collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the government of Burundi had committed to develop the Cultural Tourism Program, taking an advantage of the rich cultural diversity in the country.

The program had succeeded to provide local people in various rural areas the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods from developing and managing cultural tourism enterprises in their communities.

The Cultural Tourism Program is also aimed at giving a bright future for creating understanding and friendships between tourists and local people, offering tourists from across the world the possibility to experience Burundi’s rich and diversified cultural heritage, also creating harmony among local communities through benefit sharing from tourist gains.

The Cultural Tourism Program also allocates a part of the tourist income to community development purposes in the village through improvement and development of primary schools, health centers, a clean water supply, and other social services.

Tourists and tour operators in Burundi had also made voluntary contributions to these development projects, the National Tourism Office of Burundi says.

Burundi has been celebrating World Tourism Day held on September 27 of every year, aiming at strengthening tourism development as an engine for economic growth, highlighting the community dimension as one of the key pillars of sustainable development.

Last year (2014), World Tourism Day was dedicated to community development and was celebrated in Burundi through sensitization of people on the importance of the tourism sector in the country’s development.

With the complementary to the on-going ST-EP Project in Burundi, the UNWTO volunteer on the ground collaborated with the Burundi Ministry of Tourism and organized a two-day “Open Doors” event at the National Tourism Office in Bujumbura from September 26-27, 2014.

The two-day event gathered some 300 visitors who enjoyed traditional performances while mingling with more than 35 exhibition booths, representing local artisans, public tourism institutions, tourism training institutes, tour operators, and the other tourism enterprises.

The event also provided the opportunity for the formal presentation of training certificates to a group of waiters and receptionists who participated in the training carried out from June to August 2014 as part of the activities of the ST-EP project in Burundi.

The ST-EP project in Burundi also focuses on supporting tourism Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) to help generate additional local employment for women and youth in Bujumbura and at Lake Tanganyika resources.

Several workshops were held during World Tourism Day, aimed at sensitization of people on community and sustainable tourism development.

Attracting international experts in community development, community tourism, sports, culture, and peace, the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Symposium will be held from February 16 to 20 in Johannesburg to honor the legacies of former South African majority President Nelson Mandela, former Prime minister of India Mahatma Ghandi, and the former US Civil Rights champion, Martin Luther King, Jr.

The symposium is as well, aimed at building bridges of tourism, friendship, and peace between South Africa, India, the United States, and other regions of the world.

Source: eTurbo News

 

Spotlight On The Hotel That Claims To Be Africa’s Greenest: Hotel Verde

There are not a lot of hotels near Cape Town International Airport. Most business and leisure travellers are in a hurry to get to Cape Town, or reluctant to leave, and understandably so, given the city’s many attractions.

That’s why the 145-room Hotel Verde, located about a three-minute drive to Cape Town International Airport, feels like such a game changer. I stayed there my last night of a recent trip to Cape Town and it felt like a glimpse into the future of the hotel industry.

Hotel Verde claims to be Africa’s greenest hotel, built from the ground up according to eco-friendly principles. Staying there, you are practicing conscious, sustainable tourism. It’s the first hotel in Africa to offer a carbon-neutral stay, meaning you know exactly how much or how little your stay impacted the environment, and that makes it an amazingly feel-good experience.

Being accountable for its footprint is the guiding principle behind this hotel, which opened in August, 2013. South Africa’s green building certification wasn’t sophisticated enough for Hotel Verde, said General Manager Samantha Annandale, so they applied for — and got – LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Annandale reckons the hotel got about 30 million rand (2.57 million USD) in free publicity just for being green.

Pulling up to the hotel, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I’d ever experienced when I saw the massive wind turbines spinning in the parking lot. But as big as they appear to be, they aren’t big enough, Annandale said. Though these are the most visible signs of green technology at the hotel, the wind turbines turned out to be probably its least productive investment.

“Return on investment (of wind turbines) is 20 years,” Annandale said. “We’d need to build (the wind turbines) bigger to make it worth it. We’ve learned from our mistakes. But they make a huge statement.”

Eco Pool

Annandale spent a lot more time talking to me about the hotel’s eco pool, which uses plants and natural soil filtration to balance bacteria without chlorine. Water is clean and clear, but nothing like the hotel swimming pool international guests are used to, and some find it a bit weird, Annandale said.

Getting used to it requires a new mindset. “We cannot build hotels the way we used to build them,” she said.

Hotel Verde owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio have a 10-year lease on the wetland adjacent to the hotel where they built the eco pool. They took what amounted to a rat-infested swamp and turned it into an outdoor gym, with plants that attract birds and bees, owl houses and beehives that the hotel harvests. Kids staying at the hotel can go on a treasure hunt there.

Born in Italy and raised in Germany, Mario is a longtime South African resident and the shareholder in another hotel in Ethiopia.

One of Mario’s goals at Hotel Verde was to have zero waste to landfill. “We wanted to revolutionize that,” Annandale said. So far, the hotel manages to divert an 91-to-94 percent of waste from the landfill and they do that by recycling. The hotel has a composting room. Packaging is returned to suppliers. “One thing you can never control is what guests bring in,” Annandale said.

About 30 percent of the hotel staff’s time is spent educating school children, guests, tours and site inspectors.

Hotel Verde construction cost about 240 million rand ($20.5 million) and building it green cost about 20 million rand ($1.7 million) more than an ordinary hotel would have cost, Annandale estimates. It will take three to five years to see a return on the investment, she said.

Annandale is particularly proud of the room where gray water from guest showers is recycled. It’s fed into tanks, filtered by ultraviolet light, and then piped back up into the building to flush guest toilets.

The hotel also has a 40,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank for car washing, irrigation and cleaning.

To save energy on water heating, a geothermal loop system 90 feet beneath the surface of the hotel taps into the natural water in the earth, acting as a heat sink for the hotel water.

Engineers from the University of Cape Town visit the hotel, which serves as a model for the Stellenbosch municipality.

Art designed by local school children and South African artists is used to decorate the hotel. School children in the nearby townships don’t get art education, according to Annandale. Mario agreed to fund an art education project on condition the children learn about sustainability. In return, they created the designs for stunning tapestries that decorate the common areas on the floor I my room was on.

Using Recycled Products

One wall in the lobby was textured with recycled glass. The hotel’s carpet runners are made of recycled plastic. On the outside of the hotel, a five-story mosaic art installation was designed by Svenja, Mario’s youngest daughter.

There is free unlimited Wi-Fi and sensor lighting throughout Hotel Verde, and my room was paperless, in that all hotel information was on the TV.

One of my favorite places in the hotel was in the basement garage, where graffiti artists had been invited to come in and paint. This turned out to be a moneymaker for the hotel. Guests loved the basement art and some have paid to have banquets there, Annandale said.

But you probably want to hear about the rooms. I loved that the butter cookies I found on the coffee tray in my room were made by a local woman in Mitchell’s Plain, one of South Africa’s largest townships.

“We helped her become compliant in food preparation and now she employs two people,” Annandale said.

When you check out of Hotel Verde, you have the option to offset your carbon footprint and you can track where and how it was offset. Just knowing that made me feel good.

Source: AFK Insider

Wildlife tourism, host communities, and sustainability. Some thoughts.

The support of the local population is essential for the development, successful operation, and sustainability of wildlife tourism. Achieving the goal of favourable community support for the tourism industry requires an understanding of how residents formulate their attitudes toward tourism.

We know that host interaction with wildlife tourism ranges over a broad spectrum and the interest in both wildlife tourism and human dimensions of wildlife tourism has grown considerably in recent years. We also know that the place and role of host communities and their relationship to and interaction with wildlife will have a direct impact upon the sustainability of those resources. This is broad field that holds tremendous importance for all concerned with wildlife tourism attractions.

The host community is a fundamental component of any tourism system. It is one of the three major components (the tourist, the resource, the host) of wildlife tourism. Wildlife tourism activities have many impacts on a host community; therefore, any increase in wildlife tourism as a recreational pursuit will inevitably be accompanied by a growth in numbers of local people affected by tourism.

For the purpose of this blog, hosts are defined as those who live in the vicinity of the tourist attraction and are either directly or indirectly involved with, and/or affected by, the wildlife tourism activities.

Hosts and Sustainability

The host community is an important element to consider in the concept of sustainability. The sustainability of wildlife tourism is dependent, in part, on its support from the areas’ residents. Host satisfaction is related to both the involvement of local community members in wildlife tourism activities, and the benefits and disadvantages of wildlife tourism to host communities.

Social and cultural issues need to be considered because of the importance of host acceptance to the overall sustainability of a wildlife tourism attraction. Determining how to make a wildlife tourism attraction sustainable from the perspective of the host community requires an understanding of the interplay of elements affecting both the perception of, and support for, that tourism.

While some of the issues have been studied in relation to tourism systems in general, to date there have been very few studies specifically related to wildlife tourism.

Impacts and Attitudes

There are many factors that influence host community attitudes toward, and satisfaction with, wildlife tourism attractions. The actual and perceived impacts of wildlife tourism will influence the attitudes of the host community and ultimately have an effect on sustainability.

It is postulated that wildlife tourism will only be sustainable where there are benefits for the host community (these may be social and/or cultural, and environmental and will not necessarily be confined to economic benefits).

The actual and perceived social and cultural impacts of wildlife tourism are numerous. Impacts on the social environment are likely to affect the behaviour of individuals, community groups, lifestyles, value systems and religious or traditional ceremonies. Members of the host community may be introduced to changes and new behaviours or ideas that have the potential to affect their attitudes, values, norms and motivations. The magnitude of the impacts is likely to vary with the number of tourists, the length of stay, the importance of the wildlife to community life before tourism, and its place in cultural history.

Community Involvement

The host population’s acceptance of wildlife tourism is likely to vary depending on the way in which the host community interacts with the tourist and wildlife. A rural community whose lifestyle has incorporated consumptive/destructive activities (for example, shooting for food, sport and trophy hunting, destruction of habitat) may be introduced to a new understanding of wildlife. The establishment of an ecotourism venture based on wildlife or an enclosure venture may broaden world views of local residents.

Some concluding thoughts

Host participation is not a proven solution to all problems. If hosts resent the intrusion and attention of outsiders, for whatever reason, then it is reasonable to assume that they might also resent the existence of a wildlife tourism attraction.

Community involvement in wildlife tourism attractions varies widely from region to region and from one attraction to another within a region. For example, there exist wildlife tourism attractions that have a high level of community involvement as well as attractions that have little, or no, involvement from the local community.

The attitudes of host community members will also vary from region to region and from one individual to another within a region. For example, attitudes towards activities such as hunting and fishing will vary from one host community to another and also between members of a host community.

Source: Tourismplanningprofessionals.com

Africa Travel Association recognizes Tanzania National Parks

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) received the 2014 “Development of Responsible Tourism within the Continent” Award from the Africa Travel Association (ATA) at the 39th Annual ATA World Congress, Kampala, Uganda, November 12-16. The distinguished award was presented by Her Excellency Janet Museveni, First Lady of the Republic of Uganda, and Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director. Ibrahim Mussa, Director of Tourism and Marketing, Tanzania National Parks accepted the award on behalf of TANAPA.

Allan Kijazi, Director General, Tanzania National Parks, in thanking ATA for the Award, said: “Tanzania National Parks is honored to be recognized for our commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism development. TANAPA will continue to preserve the beauty and natural resources of Tanzania’s 16 National Parks to share with future generations of visitors from Africa and around the globe.”

Established in 1959 with Serengeti National Park as Tanzania’s first national park, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has expanded to 16 national parks. Conservation of eco-systems in all areas designated as national parks is the core business of the organization. Tanzania National Parks manages and regulates the use of areas designated as National Parks to preserve the country’s heritage, encompassing natural and cultural resources, both tangible and intangible resource values, including the fauna and flora, wildlife habitat, natural processes, wilderness quality and scenery therein and to provide for human benefit and enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.

TANAPA is a member of The Africa Travel Association, the leading global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. Established in 1975, ATA serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry.

ATA’s annual events in the USA and across Africa bring together industry leaders to shape Africa’s tourism agenda and to stay up-to-date on Africa’s latest tourism trends, issues and products.

Source: eTurbo News