Thursday, 22 September 2016

FairTrade Tourism Endorses Lodges

Fair Trade Tourism’s portfolio of certified tourism products in Mozambique is on the rise with the certification of Naara Eco lodge, located on the Nhambavale Lake in the village of Chidenguele, some 260km north of the capital of Maputo.

With 10 luxury safari tents tucked behind the dunes of the Indian Ocean overlooking a vast fresh water lake and the Natura Wellness Centre – a luxurious spa in a secluded forest alongside the dunes – Naara Eco Lodge has evolved from a passion for community welfare, development and poverty alleviation.
The lodge prides itself on its involvement in the local Inhandime community and the initiatives it is undertaking, such as the installation of a deep well water system to provide villagers with access to clean water; the establishment of a community trading store and job creation programmes aimed at recruiting local staff and tourism guides.

Naara also procures all of the produce used in creating its vibrant menus locally, lowering its carbon footprint while at the same time increasing entrepreneurial opportunities in the community. The lodge is solar powered and has an efficient waste management system.

Becoming Fair Trade Tourism certified was an obvious choice for owner Leila Oliveira. “We’ve gone through the long and demanding process of certification because we wanted to be part of the global responsible tourism network,” she says. “We truly love welcoming guests who take the community and environment to their hearts and show them a slower pace of life which is more respectful to the environment.

“We also wanted to learn from Fair Trade Tourism what we could be doing better, as to become certified we needed to adhere to more than 300 criteria! It was a lot of work but the team at Fair Trade Tourism were marvellous and very supportive. We hope that by becoming certified we can further support responsible tourism initiatives and are able to make a greater difference on the lives of the people, animals and plants living around us,” she adds.

Fair Trade Tourism is a non-government organisation operating the world’s first and currently only Fair Trade certification programme for the tourism industry. The certification programme is based on adherence to specific criteria including fair wages and working conditions, fair distribution of benefits, ethical business practice and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. It has certified businesses in South Africa, Madagascar and Mozambique and has mutual recognition agreements with like-minded certification programmes in Botswana, Namibia, the Seychelles and Tanzania.

The organisation encourages and monitors fair and responsible practices in tourism establishments and activities. Its purpose is to create opportunities for business owners and employees of tourism businesses in developing countries to enter and trade in markets governed by fair practice and transparency.

“We are delighted to welcome Naara Eco Lodge to the Fair Trade Tourism portfolio” says the organisation’s Managing Director, Nivashnee Naidoo. “With its commitment to the Inhandime community and its reduction of impact on a very sensitive coastal environment, the lodge can be rightfully proud of its achievements in the sustainable tourism arena,” she adds.

Naara Eco Lodge joins Bahia Mar, Casa Babi, Dunes de Dovela and Machilla Magic in the collection of Fair Trade Tourism certified establishments in Mozambique.

Asilia Camps recognised by Fair Trade Tourism in a first for Tanzania
In a related development, Responsible Tourism Tanzania (RTTZ) and Fair Trade Tourism’s pioneering mutual recognition initiative, which sees best practice in local responsible tourism being recognised globally, has added eight world-leading camps to its portfolio.

The camps – Sayari, Oliver’s; Little Oliver’s; Namiri; Dunia; Kimondo; Olakira and Ubuntu – are part of Asilia’s renowned East African offering, making it the first company in Tanzania to achieve this accolade.
“We are immensely proud of this achievement,” says Asilia’s Positive Impact Co-ordinator, Clarissa Hughes. “It means that our efforts are not only recognised nationally but also internationally, on a level that is understood across the board.”

Fair Trade Tourism is partnering with like-minded African responsible tourism organisations like RTTZ through its mutual recognition agreements in an effort to raise awareness of the critical role sustainable, responsible tourism plays in the continent’s unfolding tourism landscape. Through these groundbreaking agreements the organisation is helping to both benchmark standards in sustainable tourism and position Africa as a major role-player in making tourism a powerful tool for change.

“By working with partners like RTTZ across Africa, Fair Trade Tourism is providing valuable market access to mutually recognised businesses through its network of approved international inbound and outbound tour operators and its Fair Trade Holiday packages,” says the organisation’s Managing Director, Nivashnee Naidoo. “These are packages in which at least 50% of bednights are spent in either Fair Trade Tourism mutually recognised or directly certified businesses,” she explains. “We are delighted that Asilia’s eight camps can now be added to these itineraries.”

Having attained RTTZ’s Tree Level, Asilia’s eight camps have all been operating for some time and have proved that their working culture and daily operations are fully integrated into a sustainable and responsible management approach. Systems are in place to monitor and redirect the operations and all the employees understand the triple bottom line approach.

Membership of RTTZ is entirely voluntary. Organizations represented on the Board of Trustees include: Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, Hotel Association of Tanzania, Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania Tourist Board, Honeyguide Foundation and Round Table Africa.

Its main mission is to encourage and promote a more sustainable tourism industry in Tanzania.
“RTTZ is delighted to see Asilia once again leading the way in responsible tourism practices in East Africa,” said Damian Bell, Director of RTTZ. “The partnership with Fair Trade Tourism will enhance the work of RTTZ in supporting and encouraging the development of sustainable tourism, and help to strengthen the economic and business foundation of the Tanzanian tourism industry,” he says.

“We see this relationship as key in communicating the successful growth of a fair and equitable industry in Tanzania to a global audience. Asilia have always been a leader in the fields of sustainability and responsible operations, and it is my pleasure to congratulate them on this remarkable achievement.”

Fair Trade Tourism board member Judy Kepher-Gona is a stalwart of the East African tourism industry and champion of sustainable tourism in the region. “I believe that sustainability is the new luxury. Asilia is on the right track,” says Kepher-Gona.

“All evidence points to a growing recognition of significance of sustainability in tourism. East Africa cannot be left behind. Through the mutual agreement between RTTZ and Fair Trade Tourism, East Africa becomes a global player in the sustainable tourism arena. I hope many more properties in East Africa will follow Asilia’s steps,” she adds.

Asilia is the first and only African safari company to achieve a five-star rating from the Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS) and is graded at the Platinum level for its impact model. “Asilia is leading the way in responsible tourism and investment,” says Hughes.