The Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP) convened a series of road shows to Potchefstroom, Beaufort West, Knysna, Graaff-Reinet and Colesberg during March to present to small businesses, and in particular, small accommodation establishments, writes Mientjie Steyn.
The aim of the road show was to assist owners and managers of smaller accommodation establishments and smaller tourism businesses to better understand responsible tourism. “Responsible tourism affects many businesses in a town, starting at the accommodation facilities. We all have a role to play in building a great tourism destination not only in our own towns, but also as a country,” says Caroline Ungersbock, co-founder of the STPP, president of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa (NAA-SA) and owner of a guest house.
During the road show, participants were informed of the voluntary tourism strategies, standards and policies that influence their establishments positively with various savings and special offers. “Our partners include Eskom, Nedbank and BnB Sure, to name a few, and through these partnerships we are able to assist establishments and tourism businesses in starting with responsible tourism practices and to acclaim their rightful place in the industry. In essence, we are running a programme on how to implement the 41 Criteria of the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANS1162:2011),” continues Niki Glen, co-founder of the STPP.
Caroline adds that most establishments already meet some criteria without even knowing it. “Mostly, owners and managers don’t realise that what they are doing is in accordance with the Department of Tourism’s strategy in developing sustainable tourism. Therefore, in some cases, establishments may be well on the road to fulfilling the criteria. We provide a checklist for establishments to see where they require assistance.”
While informing and educating establishments and other tourism businesses, Caroline and Niki also find out from the establishments what their challenges are in implementing responsible and sustainable business practices. These requirements will be addressed in various forms, and in particular, where training is needed, the STPP will organise workshops, talks and seminars to provide fit-for-purpose training and skills development. The team will criss-cross South Africa and plans to visit as many towns as possible with the road shows planned for 2013 and 2014.
To strengthen their presence in each town, the STPP will also set up local community forums with champions to drive the campaign in the community. These champions will further lead, uplift and educate where necessary in sustaining responsible tourism in the future.
Membership of the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme is free of charge, but the programme in return requests businesses to participate through completing surveys and by providing data. “The industry is in dire need of data that assists policy makers and product and service providers to develop appropriate regulation and offerings, which aids smaller tourism businesses in becoming sustainable. Long term benefits for establishments and businesses in tourism are huge,” concludes Niki.
For more information visit www.stpp.wozaonline.co.za
About the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme
The STPP is a non-profit organisation that focuses on sustainable tourism development and assists small businesses and establishments in the tourism industry to implement and align themselves with the 41 Criteria of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (SANS1162:2011).
The STPP also aligns itself with Department of Tourism’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan of 2011.
Various sponsors and partners include: Eskom, Nedbank, BnBSure, National Accommodation Association of South Africa, alive2green, eDABA Tourism, IRDC (Institute for Rural and Community Development), I4SBF, The Endangered Wild Life Trust, Positive Cycle, University of Johannesburg and the Tourism Tattler Trade Journal.