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Responsible tourism is about ethics, not marketing

Today’s tourists look for destinations that reflect their ethics. They want to visit real communities and have real interactions with real people.

“You can’t outsource responsibility,” says Harold Goodwin, a stalwart of the global move towards sustainable and meaningful tourism.

Giving the keynote speech at the 11th Responsible Tourism in Destinations conference – part of Africa Travel Week and World Travel Market Africa being held in Cape Town this week – Goodwin stressed the need for individuals in the South African tourism industry to make significant changes to the way they do business to make tourism more meaningful and sustainable.

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“The argument for responsible tourism was made, and won, years ago in the United Kingdom and Europe,” says Goodwin. “The behaviour of tourists travelling from these markets has already adjusted, leaving them wanting authentic, genuine and sincere travel experiences, and yet the South African industry still insists on being provided with evidence that inbound tourists want sustainable and ethical, responsible holidays.”

Goodwin says today’s British and European tourists are “responsibly aware”, demanding long-haul holidays that offer local flavour and authentic experiences.

“They want to visit ‘real’ local communities and have ‘real’ interactions with ‘real’ people. They increasingly understand the political, economic and social impact their holiday choices have and look for destinations which support and reflect their ethics. They choose products and destinations that offer unique experiences, create a sense of place and contribute meaningfully to communities. They also understand that no two communities are ever exactly the same.”

Responsibility is free
Goodwin, professor of responsible tourism management at Leeds Beckett University in the UK, adds that making tourism “better” – better for tourists, better for tourism employees, better for local people and better for the environment – is the right thing to do.

He believes the South African tourism industry must stop insisting on being given a business case for responsibility, because there is none.

“You can either choose to be responsible or you can choose to be irresponsible. It’s a choice you make. Responsibility is free, it’s there on the shelf and you can take as much of it or as little as you like, any time you like.”

Responsible tourism means being responsible and ethical at every level of a tourism business. It is a choice of how to operate, not a marketing tool.

South Africa cannot afford to rest on its laurels, and has largely failed to capture the mass European market, says Garry Wilson, mainstream product and purchasing director of the world’s largest integrated travel group, TUI Travel. He effectively holds the world’s biggest chequebook when it comes to purchasing global travel products and he sees a lot of potential for tourism growth in the South African market if it can adopt a more responsible approach.

Although traditional inbound markets like the UK remain stable, South Africa has not seen significant growth from them over the past few years, and the number of visitors from emerging markets like China and India is in sharp decline.

Choosing how to operate
The marketing of the country as a tourism destination is handled by the government-funded South African Tourism, which does not actively draw attention to businesses or tourism products that are responsible and meet the ethical needs of visitors.

Responsible tourism is often misconstrued by marketers and industry professionals who present traditional culture and community activities that don’t offer sustainable benefits to local people.

“South Africa needs to focus much more on the transition to responsible, sustainable tourism practices and the development of products and infrastructure that support them,” says Wilson.

The challenge is to design better products, more effectively market those products and make tourism more inclusive and accessible, all of which are critical to sustainable tourism growth.

“Being responsible in the tourism arena helps to lower costs, has significantly lower impact on the environment, contributes to building better places for people to live and consequently better places for people to visit. It just makes perfect sense.”

Source: Mail & Guardian


 

Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.
Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.

 

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Mauritius hosts regional youth in tourism meet

Mauritius will host a high profile conference on April 23-24 to discuss youth in tourism issues in the Southern African region.

The youth in tourism conference will take place in Pointe aux Piments. It will tackle issues like sustainable tourism development; mainstreaming tourism in the region; market access for youth operated business projects; and funding.

The Southern Africa Youth in Tourism conference is organised by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) and the Mauritian Ministry of Tourism and Leisure.

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A communication from RETOSA says the youth are the emerging leaders of their communities and the conference is being hosted as a platform to facilitate the involvement of youths in sustainable development of tourism in the region. The theme of the conference is: “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development through Involvement and Participation of the Youth”.

Its strategic objectives are to facilitate the mainstreaming of tourism into the education systems of states in the region, escalate youth participation in the development of the region, and to use tourism as a vehicle for employment creation thereby helping in the fight against poverty.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, who chairs SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Tourism; and UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF), Walter Mzembzi will be the keynote speaker.

Public and private stakeholders directly involved in youth in tourism initiatives and youths involved in the tourism sector will attend the conference.

“This conference will culminate in the election of a Youth in Tourism Steering Committee which will be the driving force responsible for the implementation of the Southern Africa Youth in Tourism Action Plan to be established at the conference,” RETOSA says.

RETOSA is the tourism-implementing agency for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Its primary objective is to facilitate and promote tourism growth and development in Southern Africa.

Its member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: Mmegi Online


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South Africa top – USA bottom in responsible destination ranking

Responsible Travel has published the first league table of tourist boards graded by commitment to responsible tourism as published on their websites.

Asks whether more should be done to ensure tax payers’ money is being used to promote local over global initiatives.

The national tourist board websites of Responsible Travel’s top 50 selling countries were examined and six questions were asked, relating to tourists boards’ vision, policies and activity in responsible and sustainable tourism:

  • Is there any mention anywhere of responsible or sustainable tourism?
  • Does responsible or sustainable tourism feature in their vision/mission?
  • Do they have any specific policies for responsible or sustainable tourism?
  • Do they have evidence based reports on any achievements in responsible or sustainable tourism?
  • Do they identify holidays on their site that have been screened or audited for responsible tourism?
  • Do they provide any educational information or tips for tourists about responsible tourism?

Tourist boards could score a maximum of 6 points (all covered) and a minimum of 0. Seven tourist boards scored 0 – China, Finland, Ethiopia, Vietnam, France, Japan and the USA, meaning they had no reference to responsible or sustainable tourism anywhere on their sites. They have no published policies; no evidence of any achievement and provide no information for tourists. Bhutan, South Africa and Sweden all scored 6 points.

Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis said: “We are very surprised that so many tourist boards’ vision statements include no or little reference to sustainability; and by how many have no published responsible tourism policies or activities.”

“We think that serious questions should be asked of the tourist boards at the bottom of our league table. Their tax-payers’ money is potentially being spent developing and promoting tourism with no regard to whether it’s contributing to creating local jobs or expat jobs; whether they source locally to support local suppliers/producers or source from global markets; or whether they contribute to sustaining natural and cultural heritage or to destroying it.”

“In many cases around the world we think responsibility in tourism is being achieved despite the tourist board not because of it. South Africa is a real exception. They have national and local strategies for responsible tourism enshrined in law and policy and with real programs of work to deliver it, although delivery is still patchy. Without any clearly visible published policies for responsible tourism we cannot be sure tourist boards have any way to manage tourism for the benefit of local communities. In other destinations there are excellent examples of highly responsible local businesses, yet their hard work and commitment is not reflected in their tourist boards communications. Our research looks at the tourist board’s ability to communicate policies and action around responsible tourism – not local businesses.”

Source: Travel Mole


 

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South African communities urged to join fight against rhino poaching

The war on rhino poaching cannot be won without the participation of communities, Chief Executive of the South African National Parks (SANParks) Fundisile Mketeni said on Tuesday.

“While carrying out our work at national, regional and international level to address the scourge of rhino poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, work is also being done at community level by institutions such as SANParks to raise awareness of the plight of the rhino,” Mketeni said at a ceremony marking the World Wildlife Day in the Kruger National Parks (KNP), one of Africa’s biggest game reserves in northeastern South Africa.

The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Wildlife Crime is serious: let’s get serious about wildlife crime”.

The aim is to highlight the positive role that local communities can play in helping to curb illegal wildlife trade.

As the eyes and ears of the government, the communities must join forces in combating poaching by blowing the whistle on this heinous crime, Mketeni said.

South Africa has adopted a four pillar strategy towards addressing the rhino poaching scourge. A key pillar highlighted in the national strategy focusses on one of the critical game- changing interventions-namely creating opportunities for communities to make alternative economic choices.

South Africa bears the brunt of rhino poaching, losing 1,215 rhinos last year.

South Africa is the custodian of the world’s rhinos. In the country, the loss of rhinos could be equated to a loss of revenue for many communities resulting in a decline in living conditions, a loss of jobs through a decline in tourism and hunting through the country’s sustainable utilisation policy, and a sad loss to a part of the country’s natural and cultural heritage, Mketeni said.

South Africa is home to approximately 21,000 white and black rhinos, of which most are found in the KNP. This represents 93 percent of the world’s total rhino population, according to Mketeni.  “The South African population is one of the last viable rhino populations in the world, which makes it vulnerable. South Africa is, therefore, the last remaining hope for the world, in terms of rhino conservation,” he said.

Rhino poaching, worth billions of dollars, deprives local communities of income that could be used to create jobs and improve livelihood in the long term instead of benefiting a small group of criminals in the short-term, Mketeni said.

Even internationally, through the sustainable development goals, there are calls to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade by increasing capacity of the local communities so as to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for future generations, he said.

In going forward, South Africa is embarking on a number of new initiatives around the KNP with a focus on projects that support the game-changing pillar of South Africa’s integrated rhino strategy, according to Mketeni.

This includes, for example, addressing basic human needs such as water provision to poor neighboring communities to be funded through rhino-related programmes, to economic opportunities associated with various benefits derived from live rhinos through community-managed rhino conservation initiatives.

In the short term, the SANParks seeks to focus on communities bordering the southern KNP Intensive Rhino Protection Zone (IPZ) with the broader vision expanding around the extent of the park’s border.

The focus has been on the community and the youth-not only the role they can play, or are playing, in combating rhino poaching, but in assisting to protect the country’s natural heritage and their economic future, Mketeni said.

Source: Coastweek.com


 

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Tourism Planning and Management

By Kevin Mearns

“Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity” Klaus Topfer, UNEP Executive Director.

Changes in the market forces, as well as the move towards more environmentally sensitive and sustainable forms of tourism, have led to significant changes in tourism. The emergence of sustainable development has been a major driving force in this change towards a new form of tourism. The negative economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts resulting from tourism’s rapid and unplanned developments associated with mass tourism led to calls for a new or alternative form of tourism. Sustainable or responsible tourism is one such alternative approach to tourism that has been embraced by the tourism industry in an attempt to respond to the changing market conditions.

The concept of sustainability has had a profound influence on the world and the way in which the tourism industry, and in fact all business, conducts itself. Business now has to concern itself not only with economics but also with social and environmental issues, referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Careful consideration must be given to the minimization of negative environmental impacts while enhancing the positive impacts. Responsible tourism is being advocated by the tourism industry to achieve equity, responsibility and sustainability. The Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism (2002) was the result of the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations organized by the Responsible Tourism Partnership as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The conference addressed ways in which stakeholders can work together to take responsibility for achieving the aspirations of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics and the principles of sustainable tourism. According to the Cape Town Declaration (2002) responsible tourism has the following characteristics:

  •  It minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
  •  It generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, and improves working conditions and access to the industry.
  •  It involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
  • It makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.
  • It provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
  • It provides access for physically challenged people.

South Africa committed itself to the principle of responsible tourism in its 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. The principles of responsible tourism were, however, later elaborated on (DEAT, 2002) Responsible tourism is about enabling communities to enjoy a better quality of life through increased socio-economic benefits and an improved environment. It is also about providing better holiday experiences for guests and good business opportunities for tourism enterprises.

But how do we measure how well or how badly we are doing in terms of our responsibility or sustainability targets? “Indicators have been identified as desirable instruments and/or measuring rods to assess and monitor the progress towards sustainable development”(Tsaur, Lin, & Lin, 2006) Indicators are defined by Hart (2013) as “something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be”. An indicator also has the ability to reduce a large quantity of information to its simplest form, without losing the essential information in order to answer questions being asked. Indicators are therefore variables that summarize relevant information to make visible phenomena of interest. Whereas statistics provide raw data with no meaning attached, indicators of sustainable development provide meaning that extends beyond the attributes directly associated with the data.

The use of sustainable tourism indicators was developed to help tourism managers obtain and use information in support of better decision making in the sustainable development of tourism. Indicators are proposed to be the building blocks for sustainable tourism and they are intended to be used as tools that respond to issues most important to managers of tourism destinations. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) explains that indicators are: measures of the existence or severity of current issues, signals of upcoming situations or problems, measures of risk and potential need for action, and a means to identify and measure the results of our actions.

Indicators are information sets which are formally selected to be used on a regular basis to measure changes that are of importance for tourism development and management. They can measure: a) changes in tourism’s own structures and internal factors, b) changes in external factors which affect tourism and c) the impacts caused by tourism. Both qualitative and quantitative information can be used for sustainability indicators.”

“Used properly, indicators can become key management tools – performance measures which supply essential information both to managers and all stakeholders in tourism. Good indicators can provide in-time information to deal with pressing issues
and help guide the sustainable development of a destination” (UNWTO, 2007)

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) some of the benefits of good indicators are the following:

  • better decision making – lower risks and costs
  • identification of emerging issues – allowing prevention
  • identification of impacts – allowing corrective action when needed
  • performance management of the implementation of plans and management activities – evaluating progress in the sustainable development of tourism
  • reduced risk of planning mistakes – identifying limits and opportunities
  • greater accountability – credible information for the public and other stakeholders of tourism fostering accountability for its wise use in decision making constant monitoring that can lead to continuous improvement – building solutions into management

The tourism industry has monitored destination performance for many years by using conventional tourism indicators such as arrival numbers and tourist expenditure. In the same way as GDP has been found to be an inadequate measure of human welfare, conventional indicators can be seen as inadequate measures of tourism’s true performance.

Indicators are those sets of information chosen because they are meaningful to our decisions and can be supported in a way that provides us with the information when needed. The UNWTO process was designed to assist tourism managers in identifying which information was key to their decisions. This would help them reduce the risks to their enterprise, the community and the environment. Consequently, the UNWTO identified a core set of indicators which are likely to be useful in almost any situation which needs additional indicators critical for management in a particular ecosystem or type of destination (UNWTO, 2004).

Indicators are not an end in themselves. They become relevant only if used in tourism planning and management processes, and ideally they become effective in creating better and more sustainable decisions.

The UNWTO (2004) indicates a series of applications in which indicators support tourism planning and management:

Indicators and policy: Indicators are helpful in identifying the key policy issues that need to be addressed during the development process to achieve effective and responsible management.
Using indicators to strategically plan for tourism: Planning is about knowing what you want, how you will get there and how you will know if you have achieved it. Indicators are useful in all three of these phases of planning for continual improvement, as they provide the means to measure how close the tourism venture is to the desired state or outcome.

Indicators and regulation: Most regulations are based on the achievement of a specific standard. Indicators assist in measuring adherence to these desired standards.

Carrying capacity and limits to tourism: Indicators can be very useful in monitoring whether specific limits or carrying capacities which may affect the sustainability of tourism are being reached.

Public reporting and accountability: The information collected through indicators needs to be shared with the public in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

indicators and certification programmes: Indicators are used to monitor and measure the adherence to a series of criteria as prescribed by the certification authority or programme.

Performance measurement and benchmarking: Tourism ventures are increasingly being called upon to measure their performance in relation to other tourism ventures and benchmarks. Indicators play a critical role in determining both benchmarks and baselines for comparison as well as the performance of tourism venture in relation to one another and the predetermined benchmarks.

In order to understand how well we are performing in terms of our sustainability targets we need to continuously monitor our performance. Monitoring should be kept simple and feedback should be obtained from visitors, tour operators and local people. Simpson (2008, p.263) supports this need for ongoing monitoring by stating that “[t]he importance of on- going monitoring cannot be understated in order to refine strategies, mitigate costs, maximize benefits to communities and ensure long-term sustainability of individual tourism initiatives”.

The results of indicator monitoring are not always self-evident and will be of little value if they cannot
be accurately interpreted and understood. Baselines, thresholds, targets and benchmarks provide valuable tools to assist in the interpretation of the results obtained from indicator measurement. Baselines normally represent the agreed starting point of the monitoring process, often being the first year for which data has been collected. The indicator results are then interpreted based on the degree of variance from the baseline. This tool works well as long as it is clear that the baseline may not necessarily represent
a desired state, as a critical limit may already have been exceeded.

A baseline, as the first tool used in the interpretation of results, does not always indicate what action is necessary and it will only indicate if a previous level has been exceeded. Additional tools for the interpretation need to be used in conjunction with the baseline data. These tools are thresholds, targets and benchmarks. Thresholds indicate a critical point or threshold that should not be passed. Thresholds often act as an early warning system which if reached should trigger some form of management action to ensure that the issue is resolved or remediated. Targets and benchmarks provide a focus or an aim of a desired subjective state that would like to be achieved. These targets and benchmarks continuously drive management actions towards the attainment of the target. Baseline data therefore forms a critical component in the interpretation of indicator results.

Sustainable tourism indicators have been identified as valuable tools for determining and monitoring sustainability. Indicators have also been said to operationalise sustainability by providing social, economic and environmental information that supports more effective and holistic tourism planning, management and decision making. Now the question arises which indicators should be used? Before selecting the indicators to use, two other important questions needed to be answered:

How many indicators need to be selected?

Clearly there was no ideal number of indicators to select. Any attempt to address all the aspects of sustainability using too few indicators would leave important gaps, while too many indicators in turn could overwhelm users and the collection of information for the numerous indicators could become too complex and time-consuming. According to the UNWTO (2004, p. 41) “[m]ost practitioners agree that it is essential to prioritize issues and the indicators that correspond to them, to help create a shorter list”. Furthermore, “practitioners agree 12-24 indicators are optimal” (UNWTO, 2004).

Which issues do the indicators need to address?

Issues that need to be addressed when measuring and monitoring the sustainability of a tourism venture need to include the new triple bottom line of sustainability reporting namely social, economic and environmental sustainability, or otherwise stated as people, profit and planet.

The World Tourism Organization (2004) identified 12 baseline issues and their associated baseline indicators which served as an important point of departure for the identification of indicators (Table 1). The list of baseline indicators covers a range of social, economic and environmental issues likely to be found in most destinations. In Table 1 the social, economic and environmental sustainability dimension has been added in square brackets for each baseline issue.

This list of indicators merely provides a basis upon which the sustainability performance of tourism ventures could be measured and monitored. The selected list of indicators need to be adapted to
suite local conditions and the tourism product being monitored in order to provide valuable information to guide sustainability decision making that is relevant to the product and local conditions. As tourists become more aware of their impacts on the environment, they are demanding more sustainable tourism experiences.

In an attempt to respond to these changing market trends the tourism industry has to embrace respon- sible tourism. Responsible tourism in turn can only be achieved if all the relevant role players are able to take collective responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism in order to create better places for people to live in and to visit.

Source: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 1


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Community tourism pays back – key to responsible tourism

Among key tourist areas in Africa set for discussion at the ongoing International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Symposium in South Africa is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, one of Africa’s tourist heritage.

Community benefits from tourism development has been crucial for sustainable projects that benefit nations in Africa and raising incomes to communities living in tourist attractive sites.

In Tanzania, the local Maasai population is the center for discussion in a series of articles and news stories published by various regional and international media outlets, aiming at bridging a peaceful relationship between these communities and tourist stakeholders.

The Maasai community in northern Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area had teamed up with wildlife conservationists to establish a council, charged to oversee daily activities of pastoralism and economic development in the area by sharing the tourist revenues.

The Pastoral Council is allocated funds by the conservation authority for social and economic development projects, focusing at education, health, livestock extension services and income generating projects including a community modern hostel to accommodate tourists visiting the local communities.

Other than revenue gains, the Pastoral Council is currently pushing for employment rights to the Maasai educated youths, said the Council’s Chairman Mr. Metui ole-Shaudo.

He said the Council would like to see more locals getting direct employment from tourist companies making business in the Conservation Area, with more involvement of those companies to attract employees from local communities.

Located some160 kilometers west of Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha, Ngorongoro supports the greatest concentration of wildlife left on Earth. It is a multiple land-use system under which Maasai pastoralists share the resources with wildlife, one of the world’s earliest system to be established in order to reconcile human development and conservation.

The Conservation Area has been occupied by wildlife and the Maasai cattle herders, and have lived together side by side for many centuries. The Maasai are the only people that move freely in the area with their herds of cattle, undisturbed.

Ngorongoro is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Tanzania and as such it’s an important economic resource to local residents, safari and tour operators, hunting firms, the region, and the nation.

Source: ETurbo News


 

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Zimbabwe’s Famed Forests Could Soon Be Desert

Harare — There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.

This, despite Zimbabwe being obliged under the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to ensure environmental sustainability by the end of this year.

“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently and also if people keep razing down trees for firewood without regulation,” Marylin Smith, an independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe’s oldest town, and former staffer in the government of President Robert Mugabe, told IPS.

“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently” – Marylin Smith, independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Zimbabwe lost an annual average of 327,000 hectares of forests between 1990 and 2010.

Smith blamed Zimbabwe’s deforestation on the growing numbers of tobacco farmers who were cutting “millions of tonnes of firewood each year to treat the cash crop.”

According to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Zimbabwe currently has 88,167 tobacco growers, whom environmental activists say are the catalysts of looming desertification here.

“Curing tobacco using huge quantities of firewood and even increased domestic use of firewood in both rural and urban areas will leave Zimbabwe without forests and one has to imagine how the country would look like after the demise of the forests,” Thabilise Mlotshwa, an ecologist from Save the Environment Association, an environmental lobby group here, told IPS.

“But really, it is difficult to object to firewood use when this is the only energy source most rural people have despite the environment being the worst casualty,” Mlotshwa added.

Zimbabwe’s deforestation crisis is linked to several factors.

“There are thousands of timber merchants who have no mercy with our trees as they see ready cash in almost every tree and therefore don’t spare the trees in order to earn money,” Raymond Siziba, an agricultural extension officer based in Mvurwi, a district approximately 100 kilometres north of the Zimbabwean capital Harare, told IPS.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), there were 66,250 timber merchants nationwide last year alone.

Deforestation is a complex issue. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that during the decade from 1980 to 1990, the world’s tropical forests were reduced by an average of 15.4 million hectares per year (an 0.8 percent annual rate of deforestation).

The area of land cleared during the decade is equivalent to nearly three times the size of France.

Developing countries rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking and heating. In Africa, the statistics are striking: an estimated 90 percent of the entire continent’s population uses fuelwood for cooking, and in sub-Saharan Africa, firewood and brush supply approximately 52 percent of all energy sources.

Zimbabwe is not the only sub-Saharan country facing a crisis in its forests. A panel run by the United Nations and the African Union and led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki found that in Mozambique thousands more logs were exported to China than were legally reported.

Disappearing forest cover is a particular problem in Ghana, where non-timber forest products provide sustenance and income for 2.5 million people living in or near forest communities.

Between 1990 and 2005, Ghana lost over one-quarter of its total national forest cover. At the current rate of deforestation, the country’s forests could completely disappear in less than 25 years. Current attempts to address deforestation have stalled due to lack of collaboration between stakeholders and policy makers.

In west equatorial Africa, a study by Greenpeace has called logging the single biggest threat to the Congo Basin rainforest. At the moment, logging companies working mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are busy cutting down trees in over 50 million hectares of rainforest, or an area the size of France, according to its website.

An estimated 20 to 25 percent of annual deforestation is thought to be due to commercial logging. Another 15 to 20 percent is attributed to other activities such as cattle ranching, cash crop plantations and the construction of dams, roads, and mines.

However, deforestation is primarily caused by the activities of the general population. As the Zimbabwe economy plummets, indigenous timber merchants are on the rise, battling to eke a living, with environmentalists accusing them of fuelling deforestation.

For many rural dwellers, lack of electricity in most rural areas is creating unsustainable pressures on forests in Zimbabwe.

“Like several other remote parts of Zimbabwe, we have no electricity here and for years we have been depending on firewood, which is the main source of energy for rural dwellers even for the past generations, and you can just imagine the amount of deforestation remote areas continue to suffer,” 61-year-old Irene Chikono, a teacher from Mutoko, 143 kilometres east of Harare, told IPS.

Even Zimbabweans with access to electricity are at the mercy of erratic power supplies from the state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which is failing to meet electricity demand owing to inadequate finances to import power.

“With increasing electricity outages here, I often resort to buying firewood from vendors at local market stalls, who get this from farms neighbouring the city,” 31-year-old Collina Hokonya, a single mother of three residing in Harare’s high density Mbare suburb, told IPS.

Government claims it is doing all it can to combat deforestation but, faced with this country’s faltering economy, indigenous timber merchants and villagers say it may be hard for them to refrain from tree-felling.

“We are into the timber business not by choice, but because of joblessness and we therefore want to make money in order to survive,” Mevion Javangwe, an indigenous timber merchant based in Harare, told IPS.

“A gradual return of people from cities to lead rural life as the economy worsens is adding pressure on rural forests as more and more people cut down trees for firewood,” Elson Moyo, a village head in Vesera village in Mwenezi, 144 kilometres south-west of Masvingo, told IPS.

“Politicians are plundering and looting the hardwood forest reserves since they own most sawmills, with their relatives fronting for them,” Owen Dliwayo, a civil society activist based in Chipinge, an eastern border town of Zimbabwe, told IPS.

“For all the forests that politicians plunder, they don’t pay a cent to council authorities and truly how do people get motivated to play a part in conserving hardwood forests?” Dliwayo asked.

“We will only manage to fight deforestation if government brings electricity to our doorsteps because without electricity we will keep cutting down trees for firewood,” said Chikono.

Source: AllAfrica.com


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Sustainable events industry: Successes and failures

Event tourism is a growing global phenomenon. All events have impacts on the economy, environment and society – playing an important role in communities. Events add to the quality of life for local residents and driving tourists to an area. Events provide an opportunity to showcase positive community brands and image to the media, business community and visitors and further create economic impact that translates into jobs, tax revenues and enhanced infrastructure improvements. ‘Community Capital’ (as it is referred to by IFEA Africa, International Festivals and Events Association Africa) is built as a direct outcome of events, e.g. through exposure of artists, local community programmes and experiences.

Events include, but is not limited to, business meetings, exhibitions, festivals, entertainment, government interventions and sports events. The event management process of planning, preparing and production creates opportunities for rich localised work integrated learning experience and job creation.

The 2000 National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS1) provided the platform for a visionary skills development initiative. In 2002 the first learnership in Event Support was funded by The Business Trust working with THETA – the Tourism, Hospitality, & Sport Education and Training Authority. A sustainable curriculum was developed to upgrade service levels, build capacity and promote job creation in this field to generate increased economic revenues from events and event tourism. The skills based competencies were linked directly to internationally validated performance outcomes with wider opportunities for employment and career success (Silvers 2000). A group of 200 learners from across the Gauteng province participated in the year long programme that would took us into communities where we were privileged to participate in real community experiences.

The possibilities for events based on local assets created wonderful opportunities, as well, traditional event and event tourism. There is often criticism on the ‘waste of money on events’ – and our response is – which part of the event value chain? The agro-ecology – from the Urban Farm in Bertrams, in the Inner City of Johannesburg to the large scale farmers, from the local community markets to the 2010 FIFA World Cup – the growers, the pickers, the transport, the small and large food and beverage suppliers for events, the venues, the decorators, the event organisers, the event security, the event marketing, the recyclers…where is the waste?

The South African events industry has the potential to create 876,785 jobs by simply planning, preparing and producing small events, based on local assets in local communities. There are 4,277 wards in South Africa. In each of these wards, a group of 205 youth – entry level and graduates could embark on a skills development journey, mentored, coached and support by local businesses and event industry experts.

Our challenge would be to create and sustain a physical and virtual place- making portfolio of harmonized places, flowing one from another, yielding cross-demand through the portfolio, generating new forms of revenue, driving sales of authentic commodities, goods services and experiences (Pine & Gilmore, 2007) that could maximise the multiplier effect and contribute towards poverty eradication.

Policies like the amended BBBEE Act, the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism, government commitment to procurement on 10 products from SME’s and Co-operatives, including Events all are in place to support enterprise development in the event value chain. However, the challenge remains this: With the best will in the world, you can’t buy local and support small enterprises and co-operatives unless the competencies, capabilities and capacity to deliver are developed and quality standards maintained.

This requires a commitment to sustainable skills development initiatives supported by industry and government. A number of event industry initiatives are under way with associations working with government departments on transformation, tourism, sustainability, health and safety and the professionalization of the event industry, including the formation of the Council of Event Professionals currently in process at South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

The journey, over the last fourteen years has included over 1,000 learnerships in urban, ‘rurban’ and rural South Africa, with events touching the lives of many new entrants into the event industry.

Evidence indicates that significant community development takes place only when local community people are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort. Each community boasts a unique combination of assets upon which to build its future”. (McKnight & Kretzmann, 1993)

It is these natural and built assets – commodities extracted from the earth, goods made, services delivered – that come together in the planning, preparation and production of small, low profile events. Local communities create an “Experience Economy in which Work is Theatre and Every Business is a Stage” (Pine & Gillmore, 1999).

One of the greatest benefits of events is social inclusion – and how the industry could turn eventing know-how into a collective vehicle for sustainable social and economic development solutions. This led to the start of Skills Village 2030 as a space where government, business and community could work together using events as the catalyst for change.

Skills Village is a bridge builder between the traditional and new realities – the industry having pioneered and protected the South African event knowledge systems and solutions – understanding the diversity and complexity of the South African, and Africa client’s needs. This created an understanding of how cultural products could be developed by training and empowering practitioners for the benefit of our society. The Skills Village pilot has proved that a realistic business and community space can be created and provided the best opportunity for enterprise, the development of human capital and nation building. Events through this process can grow a dynamic cross-sector that can strategically enhance the economic benefits of the industry, advancing extended industries exponentially through a co-operative linkage system.

The Skills Village model and framework are scalable and replicable – there are many individuals who have participated in in the one year training programmes who are successfully employed, or in their own enterprises able to sustain decent livelihoods. The visionary National Skills Development Strategy lll recognises the critical need for all stakeholders to work together: Academic Institutions, FET Colleges, the proposed Community Colleges, the Workplace Integrated Learning Experiences and Industry Certifications. The biggest challenge has been the lack of support for progression – if we really want to successfully unlock the potential of event tourism that benefits local communities, we need a four year plan, supported by Skills Development, that will take individuals through the different skill levels – Support, Co- ordinate, Manage, Direct. This should apply to the event organiser, the destination manager, the cleaner or the caterer, hiring décor or hiring transport, the Concierge in a five star hotel or the Community Concierge. The collective event industry can turn its eventing expertise into catalytic value for clients, for partners, for communities – delivering the best experiences, getting the job done right and making a different to the event practitioner’s lives that it empowers in the process.

Source: The Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 2

 


 

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Top 10 Global Trends that will Impact Hospitality in 2015.

Millennials the New Power Segment

Exploration, interaction, and emotional experience is the hallmark of Millennials, the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, expected to represent 50% of all travelers by 2025. With the rise of millennial consumers businesses will need to be more transparent and tech savvy, with a strong focus on empathy and customer connection. Technology is essential for this demographic and they will expect technology to power check-in, payment, eating, and shopping. They will also actively engage in social media like Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor to complain. Millennials will expect a deeper link between tourism services and how they manage their everyday lives. “Foodies” are a distinct subset of this market looking for a gourmet experience at a reasonable prices. Culture buffs, LGBT and multi-generational travelers are looking for unique and novel experiences. Over half of Millennials stayed at independent hotels last year, 20% more than baby boomers. However, don’t count out the aging baby boomers that are living longer, are rethinking how to define retirement, and placing their energy in more creative pursuits.

Political Tensions and Terrorism

Around the world citizens have responded to increased government involvement with distrust and have begun to challenge entrenched political parties. Punishing economic policies and austerity measures along with ethnic, cultural and religious tensions have resulted in the rise in civil unrest. A megatrend found in Europe and likely to spread is the rise in populist movements that seek to regain national identity. The ability to efficiently deliver social services will be an ongoing challenge for governments. Countries and states with ethnic and religious tensions along with poor governance, and weak economies will breed terrorism. Transnational and free-wheeling terrorism enabled by information technology will replace state-supported political terrorism. In spite of collective actions to prevent, protect, and respond to terrorism, the threat will remain high in Europe and the US.

Deepening Income Inequality and the Working Poor

Inequality tops the list of economic trends to watch with the US viewed as the most unequal of the world’s rich nations. The wealthiest 1% of all Americans have 288 times the amount of wealth as the average middle class American family. Many predict that Asia will be the region most affected by deepening income inequality in 2015. Middle-income groups in many advanced economies are shrinking. Consumers struggle to pay down debt because their inflation-adjusted incomes have fallen since the 2007-09 recession.

Taking Control of Health and Personal Well Being

Taking charge of personal health will expand. Monitoring and adjusting your health will become more important as technology moves onto the body and consumers take greater control of their health. Tracking internal biochemistry and personal fitness data will result in more engaged and empowered personal health, and telehealth (remote consultation) will allow for higher quality and more personalized care. You can also expect to see more advanced devices to help people stay healthy and connect with their doctors, like devices worn on the ear due to the proximity to the temporal artery. The privacy and security of health records will become increasingly important in 2015 as medical records and online patient portals expand. The West Africa Ebola outbreak raises new challenges in managing infection and healthy living while traveling will require more innovative wellness options. Air purification, energizing lighting, a yoga space, in-room exercise equipment, and vitamin infused shower water are just the start.

Technology Driven Self-Sufficient Travelers

Innovative technologies on a mobile platform will be expected as more individuals rely on digital concierge services. Mobile check-in and seamless connectivity across platforms and devices is now expected. With geo-location software easily available, selling locally with a focus on content marketing is expected. Connectivity is key as more individuals are relying on information delivered through social software from virtual networks. Technology is better and smarter, and more integrated user experiences are likely. The smartphone is essential equipment for almost all employees, making it a potential tool for HR training and other workplace uses. Integrated outlets, USB ports, and wireless technology integration with hotel TV systems are basic. The iPod docking station is passé, but simple clocks are back in.

Sustainability and Resource Constraints

Eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm, and most hotels must have an attractive “green policy”, as travelers expect hotels to have some type of environmental program in place, while few are still willing to pay more for eco-features. Critical resources such as water and power are under increasing strain leading to price increases, volatility and even shortages. Global warming and energy use are affecting how we consume and live on a societal scale. Water scarcities and allocation pose challenges to governments in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and northern China. Renewable energy resource and innovative projects will shape the future of resource use, while regional tensions over water will be heightened in 2015. Falling oil prices, show how easy resource constrains can change, with a dampening effect on the power of countries such as Russia and Iran, while lowering prices for jet fuel, impacting growth in air travel, even as airlines acquire new fuel-efficient jets from Boeing and Airbus and replace old fleets.

Disruption and the Sharing Economy

Emerging new business models including peer-to-peer networks life Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, multi-sided platforms such as Google and eBay, or free business models such as Skype and Flickr will change the business landscape. As peer-to-peer networks expand and grow they will become more professional and pose stronger direct competition to traditional travel services. Further, the growing popularity of meta search engines from big players like Google and Microsoft and the rapid growth of firms like Kayak may alter the user experience, define the mobile experience, lead to consolidation and impact partnerships with OTAs and hotels. As OTAs consolidate and expand their relationship with customers the costs of distribution will become increasing critical.

A Global Worldview

Increasing similarity and connectedness between nations, companies, and individuals. The globalized economy will be a net contributor to increased political stability in the world, although its benefits will not be universal. Continued transparency in global financial systems and free capital flows is likely. The global market for skilled and trained employees will grow while countries with aging populations will require immigrants to fill entry jobs. Expect more human migration. The travel industry is among the largest and fastest-growing industries worldwide, forecasted to support 328 million jobs, or 10 percent of the workforce, by 2022 according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Citizens of Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have the best passports for global travel (may enter 173 countries without a visa). In general, passport holders in North America and Europe have the most freedom of travel, while passport holders in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have the least. Chinese tourists still encounter difficulty traveling abroad with only 50 countries and territories offering visa-free or visa on arrival access for this group of travelers.

Fewer People and More Data

Will staff be needed to clean rooms and provide concierge services? As more travelers prefer technology to human beings, bypassing the front-desk, using a digital concierge, and saying good bye to bellmen and other traditional positions could be in your future. Rethinking how to communication with guest will mean using more data and fewer staff. Recommendation engines will allow guests to obtain “good service” on an array of travel needs once handled by the hotel. Group planners will also expect easy online planning capabilities and fast rates. While a help yourself model will focus on technology to drive service, staff will need to be better able to create and execute on a “new” model of service.

Emerging Growth Markets

Global growth in GDP (adjusting for inflation) will be moderate at 3.2% in 2015, projections of 3.1% for the US, 1.3% for Europe, 7.1% for China, and .8% for Japan. Europe appears to be in an economic rut, Japan’s recovery is faltering again, and China while high compared to other nations looks to have its slowest growth since 1990. The US may be the most likely to power world growth in 2015. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest outlook called global growth “mediocre”. Emerging markets are challenged with inflation if they seek to grow as fast as they have in the past. Brazil will be challenged by slow growth and high inflation, while South and East Asia as well as much of Arica are projected to experience the strongest growth. Overall the global economy is taking longer to recuperate from the financial problems of the last decade.

 

Source: 4 Hoteliers 


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Grootbos Champions South Africa’s Biodiversity

Grootbos Nature Reserve, near the Garden Route has earned international recognition for championing sustainable tourism efforts.

The Western Cape reserve has been nominated for the 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, handed out by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), for its acclaimed conservation programmes. It is a finalist in the Community Award category.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Madrid, Spain on 15 April during the 15th WTTC Global Summit.

In addition to the nomination, the lodge earned a spot on National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World list. The list, which was published on 6 January, features 24 properties.

“National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a network of world-class accommodations where sustainability is the touchstone and the guest experience is exceptionally rich and meaningful,” the company wrote. “We invite you to discover how ‘staying’ can be truly extraordinary.”

“The tourism sector is a R18-billion industry that employs over 150 000 people,” said Alan Winde, the provincial MEC of economic opportunities, in congratulating Grootbos. “It’s important that we embrace practices to protect the environment so we can safeguard these resources. With such a rich cultural and natural heritage to preserve, sustainability is particularly important in this region. Their achievements are garnering attention for their own establishments as well as for the Western Cape.”

The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are aimed at recognising best practice in sustainable tourism within the industry globally, based upon the principles of environmentally friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and direct benefits to the social and economic well-being of local people in travel destinations around the world, the council explains.

These annual awards are among the highest accolades in the industry and represent the gold standard in sustainable tourism.

In voting for Grootbos as a finalist, the council notes that of the six floral kingdoms on Earth, South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region is perhaps the least well known. Covering just 553 000 hectares, it is also the smallest.

“Small, however, does not mean insignificant. Despite accounting for just 0.5% of Africa, the region is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora.”

The hotel and reserve overlooks Walker Bay and comprises 2 500 hectares of very high conservation value land, with 785 indigenous plant species recorded on the reserve, of which 117 are species of conservation concern and seven are endemic to Grootbos.

“It’s one thing to use the money raised from its 6 000 visitors each year to protect and restore such a fragile and unique ecosystem. What sets Grootbos apart is that it goes a lot further, designing its stewardship of the land to also bring uplift to the many impoverished communities that live nearby,” says the WTTC.

“Of the 180 people employed at Grootbos, 95% is from the local communities. Its Growing the Future project provides skills development in organic agriculture, sustainable animal husbandry and beekeeping. In the last year it produced three tonnes of organic fruit and vegetables, 980kg of organic honey, 26 000 free range eggs, and generated more than R500 000 from plant sales and landscaping. And following a needs analysis of 700 of the poorest households, the lodge launched a GreenBox planting system, which is now being rolled out to enable 200 households to produce their own food.”

Similarly, the National Geographic Society’s National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence. They “offer an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices”, says the society.

Other African lodges on the list are Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge and Tswalu Kalahari in South Africa, and Rubondo Island Camp and Sayari Camp in Tanzania.

Source: All Africa


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