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How to Support Responsible Travel in Africa

Tour operators play a major role in influencing responsible travel through the holiday packages they design and offer to clients. Your business can support responsible travel in Africa by promoting Fair Trade Tourism certified tourism products and by packaging and selling Fair Trade Holidays, writes Sharon van Wyk.

Fair Trade Tourism is Africa’s leading responsible tourism organisation, which aims to assist tourism businesses to operate sustainably, facilitate the globally recognised Fair Trade Tourism certification programme and grow awareness about responsible tourism to the travel trade and to travellers.

Fair Trade Tourism certified tourism businesses use the Fair Trade Tourism label to signify their commitment to fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.

The certification standard, encompassing 200 criteria, represents the global benchmark in responsible tourism and is the first standard in Africa to be recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Fair Trade Tourism currently has certification programmes in South Africa, Madagascar and Mozambique, together with mutual recognition agreements with Tanzania and Seychelles, and is currently assessing an agreement with Namibia. Mutual recognition is a process through which the standards of two certification schemes are assessed as equivalent.

Fair Trade Tourism is currently expanding its scope and influence in Africa as well as in key international source markets in Europe and the USA. Aims and efforts are focused on:

• Increasing the number of Fair Trade Tourism certified products in Southern Africa;

• Increasing the supply of certified sustainable tourism products in Africa through mutual recognition agreements with similar certification schemes.

• Promoting Fair Trade Holidays to package and sell sustainable tourism products in the international market-place.
Expanding the numbers of tour operators approved by Fair Trade Tourism to sell Fair Trade Holidays.

Tour Operator Approval Process

To be approved by Fair Trade Tourism, Tour operators need to pledge their support to Fair Trade Tourism’s principles and agree to package and promote holidays in which at least 50% of the bed-nights featured are spent in tourism establishments that are certified by Fair Trade Tourism or by a mutually recognised certification scheme in Africa.

There are three ways in which a tour operator can be approved:

• If you are already a Tourcert certified operator, you will be automatically approved to package and sell Fair Trade Holidays as a result of a formal mutual recognition agreement signed between Fair Trade Tourism and TourCert in 2013.

• If you are already a Travelife certified operator, you will also be automatically approved to package and sell Fair Trade Holidays.

• If you wish to be independently approved, you need to sign the Fair Trade Tourism Code of Conduct, which commits your business to fair, transparent and sustainable business practices, fair supplier relationships, transparency with customers, and active support of Fair Trade Tourism Holidays and products.

• You will also need to display your commitment to the Fair Trade Tourism Code of Conduct on your website and marketing collateral and you will need to demonstrate this commitment by providing supporting documentation if required.
• There are considerable benefits to becoming a Fair Trade Tourism approved tour operator, including:
Playing a lead role in promoting sustainable tourism suppliers to discerning travellers;
• Enhancing your credibility by displaying the Fair Trade Tourism Approved and Fair Trade Holiday logos in your promotional material and website;
Increasing market access by being showcased on the Fair Trade Tourism website and other Fair Trade Tourism marketing channels;
• Working with fellow operators to promote Fair Trade Tourism through the value chain.

If you are already a Tourcert or Travelife certified operator, notify us and we will send you a label use agreement to sign which entitles you to use the Fair Trade Tourism Approved and Fair Trade Holiday logos.

For independent approval, contact us for a copy of the Fair Trade Tourism Code of Conduct, sign it and return it. For more information on Fair Trade Tourism visit www.fairtrade.travel

For more information contact the programme development manager, Manuel Bollmann, at manuel@fairtrade.travel or call 012 342 2945.