In an industry regarded as being critical to economic growth and development and one that offers such potential for the empowerment and upliftment of impoverished communities and the protection of sensitive ecosystems, it is essential that we have some way of measuring how committed a tourism business is to make a real and lasting difference.
Sustainability is a somewhat overused and much-misunderstood word. Usually associated with being environmentally friendly, there is, in fact, a lot more to sustainability than just green issues. Most importantly, sustainability means that whatever it is you are doing now you will be able to do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and for the foreseeable future, without detriment to the planet and with positive beneficiation for people. This goes to the very heart of Fair Trade Tourism as the organisation’s DNA has been custom-designed to help people help people.
Through Fair Trade Tourism’s Business Development Services offering, a tourism company has the opportunity to unpack its business model and examine it in minutiae, ensuring that every single aspect of the business is optimised to offer real sustainability with demonstrable benefits for communities and the environment.
When a tourism company undergoes the Fair Trade Tourism audit – a gruelling litmus test which comes after the BDS process has been completed – it knows that every part of its business model has been scrutinised and improved upon, using globally accepted measures of best practice in sustainable tourism. It also understands implicitly that it is now ready to build upon the solid pillars Fair Trade Tourism provides it with, which, if adhered to and regularly monitored, will be truly sustainable.
The real testament to Fair Trade Tourism’s success is the continued success of the tourism businesses that choose the Fair Trade Tourism route. Their achievements speak louder than we ever could.
So let’s hear from some of them why Fair Trade Tourism matters:
Umlani Bush Camp
“When I first heard of Fair Trade Tourism in 2003 I was excited by the prospects of such an organisation and wanted to be part of it. The ideals and principles that Fair Trade Tourism stands for were exactly what Umlani aspired to be. The certification process gave us new stretches and goals to work towards it also gave us recognition and support for what we were already doing right. This opened many doors for us and put us in contact with many like-minded organisations and people. It has been a magical journey all round and I can recommend joining the Fair Trade Tourism ‘tide’. “
Marco Schiess, CEO and owner of Umlani Bush Camp.
Three Trees at Spioenkop
“We decided to join Fair Trade Tourism because we wanted to show our commitment to long term sustainability to our community. We wanted to show that commitment to our guests, so they could be confident in their choice of accommodation and travel experiences and for them to know that the choice they have made has a positive impact on the area they visit. And because we personally believe in Fair Trade Tourism’s objectives and principles. We have benefited immensely through various marketing opportunities and networking with like-minded people.”
Simon and Cheryl Blackburn, owners of Three Trees at Spioenkop.
Sani Lodge Backpackers
“Fair Trade in Tourism’s values reflect the way Sani Lodge Backpackers strives to operate. Having battled with other grading systems, we were delighted to find a certification which recognises factors which we believe are of critical importance in how a tourism business is run. Fair Trade Tourism’s criteria recognise our values and reward us for the way we operate. In addition, the rigorous certification and audit process meant that we learnt a tremendous amount about ways to improve and implementing these has led to better performance from staff, more input into our local communities and better environmental practices. We are extremely proud of being Fair Trade Tourism certified and our whole team feels the value.”
Russell and Simone Suchet, owners of Sani Lodge Backpackers.