Blue Wave is surging forward in Fethiye

IMG_0840Turkey’s Gulf of Fethiye and surrounding coastline is one of the most popular sailing areas along the Turkish coast. Walking along Fethiye’s harbour you have what seems as an endless choice of boats offering daily excursions to explore the 12 islands in the bay. It really is a boating paradise with crystal clear water, green pine forests that meet the sea, and quiet beaches.  If your bucket list is anything like mine, there is nowhere else to be – you can swim with turtles in crystal clear waters in the morning, and explore the ancient ruins of inland Fethiye in the afternoon.

I’m very excited to report that six months into my new role at the Travel Foundation, the momentum of Blue Wave educational activities are surging forward. A key objective of this project is to improve the understanding and awareness of threats to the marine environment from marine tourism.  Blue Wave partners meet this week to finalise the content for the Bay of Fethiye education map, and once printed it will be distributed throughout the sector. The map will provide tourists with information about the region, and tell them how they can help to protect the marine environment on their boat trip.

IMG_0876We’re also developing and finalising content for the ‘Sustainable Practices for Sailing Yachts and Motorboats’ guide. This guide will be printed and distributed to local marinas and boat owners, to help them understand how they can improve their practices.

Already though, a Blue Wave partner is sharing best practice by opening up their training sessions to smaller marina boat crew. It’s great to see the boating community in the region collaborating to help protect the marine environment, the very thing their business depends on.

Find out more about Blue Wave here >

_MG_7410Written by Jane Rowan, Destination Programme Officer, Travel Foundation.

What sparked my interest in sustainable tourism

The weather was scorching and I’d spent the day cooped up in the backseat of a car bumping along dusty roads in Accra, the capital of Ghana, meeting project stakeholders.

All I wanted was to relax with a nice cold beer and take a refreshing shower. But I couldn’t – there wasn’t any water available at that time of the day.gardens irrigating efficiently

Water shortage was a big problem in Accra, leading to the authorities restricting access at certain times, and it was a problem made worse by the development of a new golf resort which used gallons of precious water each day to keep its greens, well, green!

It seemed so unfair to drive past acres of lush grass, closed off to all but visiting hotel guests and the wealthy elite, whilst parts of the city struggled to have enough water for daily life.

It was the first time I’d experienced first-hand the negative impacts that tourism could have on communities that often don’t have a say in what developments spring up around them, and who often don’t see any benefits trickle down.

This experience sparked my interest in making tourism more sustainable and developers more responsible for the destinations they work in. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to have recently joined the Travel Foundation and be working on projects that bring about real change in destinations.

During my first weeks in the job I’ve been inspired by stories about the lasting impact we’ve had around the world: providing access to tourism markets for local Turkish farmers, encouraging sustainable excursions around the islands of Cape Verde, and providing local women with the opportunity to sell natural honey products to hotels in Mexico.

These programmes don’t only benefit the local communities, but provide models for how sustainable tourism can be done – and these models can be replicated by the travel industry worldwide.

The enthusiasm and energy of the team both here and in destinations around the world is amazing, and I’ve been really impressed by the thorough, evidence-led approach taken with each programme. It’s great to see new opportunities on the horizon such as potential projects to reduce the carbon footprint of tourism in the Caribbean and Africa, and I can’t wait to get stuck in! Clare_web

– Clare Fussell, Destinations Programme Manager 

The magic of tourism – selling ‘The Nothing’

DaliaBlog1First I would like to introduce you to Tourah, my new travel buddy! She is a Cape Verdean rag doll that will accompany me while I explore Sal, Cape Verde, and the rest of the world! Last week I went on a half day Island tour that is on sale to TUI customers.

I have been to this island many times on business trips and know many of the main tourist attractions, but it was different and interesting to see Sal through a tourist lens, while observing the curiosity and excitement of the other visitors. It was sad, though, to witness some issues that hinder the quality of our tourism destination. I saw challenges for the destination’s decision-makers – in particular, the training of craft vendors in customer service and product quality. The Travel Foundation have already made a start on this (read more here), but Sal’s tourism stakeholders need to come together and agree a strategy for the future. Hopefully, we can leverage support through the Destination Council.

On the positive side, the tour took me to places I knew, but through paths I have never been. There were two moments of the journey that made me recall a conversation I had the previous weekend with my uncle at São Vicente (another Cape Verdean island, where I am originally from). He is a businessman, owner of two restaurants and a guesthouse, so I love listening to his thoughts on the tourism sector. The other day he said something very interesting:

“Dalia, when Cape Verdeans realise that one can sell ‘The Nothing’, then they will finally start making money from tourism”.

In fact, during the tour I saw two places where the guide sold ‘The Nothing’.

daliablog4One was when we went to a place where all you could see was dirt and rocks, and still the guide was able to make the stop fun by telling the tourists that piling up five rocks would bring good luck – so a moment was created for wishes and photos. The other place was at Terra Boa – where the landscape is basically flat dry landscape, but the guide surprised us all when we were shown the remarkable ‘nothing’ – a mirage! That is when my uncle´s wise words came to mind.

 

Tourism is such an amazing versatile sector that can take whatever shape, taste, smell one wants and therefore any country can take part in it – be it rich, poor, big, small, green, dry, cold, hot! If you think of tourism as an iceberg, the tangible aspects are only the tip of it, the major part, the grounding roots, are all intangible assets – friendly atmosphere, welcoming host communities, curious stories, unforgettable experiences… creative and beautiful ‘nothings’!

Dalia GomesWritten by Dalia Gomes, Programme Co-ordinator, Cape Verde.

Read more about the Travel Foundation’s work in Cape Verde.

Relationship building in Croatia – can we make the perfect match?

IMG_0259Last month, I started work as the Programme Coordinator for the Travel Foundation in Croatia.

My role is to, amongst other things, embed activities that will improve the integration of new and refurbished hotels into the local tourism and community environment.

I will be using the recommendations made from the impact assessment report (I was part of the team that researched and developed it), and my aim is to maximise tourism benefits and minimise negative impacts of tourism, as these places are very small tourism destinations who now have the potential to be receiving higher visitor numbers than in previous years.

IMG_0215.jpgIf you wish to enjoy a small, rustic and typical villages on the Dalmatia coast, you need to visit the picturesque villages of Igrane and Zivogosce! These villages are the focus of the project, and I will supporting tourism organisations to embed sustainability within their policies and practices so they can benefit more from tourism. I’m really excited about this opportunity!

I have developed small working groups to focus on the recommendations made in the impact assessment report to enable me to work towards the goal to develop positive and sustainable working relationships between the hotels and local communities in Igrane and Zivogosce.

The meetings, so far, have been very open and constructive, and discussions between partners representing public, private and non-governmental institutions have been fruitful in bringing us closer to our goals. It is nice to see progress where key decisions are based on a consensus between partners.

It is a huge success, that after one month of implementing activities, cooperation between partner organisations has been very open, and we’re on our way to building a great relationship.

Next, I plan to confirm joint activities and responsibilities that will see the recommendations being put into place. I’m looking forward to working on this project, and looking into the possibilities of rolling similar initiatives out on a national scale. I look forward to reporting on the progress I make soon!

Ane SindikWritten by Ane Sindik, Programme Coordinator, Croatia

More information on the Croatia Programme >

Best practice now common practice for 15 Fethiye hotels

taste of Fethiye logo300After five years support, we’re almost ready to stand back from the Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey. The project is now on the verge of being handed over to local organisations. FETAV (Fethiye Tourism, Education, Environment and Culture Promotion) have already taken over organisation of the Taste of Fethiye Craft Fairs, and we’re busy working on agreeing responsibilities that will be handed over to local organisations who will continue to run the Taste of Fethiye brand in future.

LD6H2217The wholesalers that were involved in the project from the beginning are still working with almost all the Taste of Fethiye farmers, which is hugely important to ensure future success. We also had a great increase in involvement from hotels last year, which had a great influence on production and sales.

 

Fifteen hotels are still purchasing Taste of Fethiye produce, which tells us after all these years of hard work, purchasing local fresh fruit and vegetables from Taste of Fethiye has become a part of their day-to-day business practice.

 

So, it seems that it IS possible to integrate small, local suppliers into the mainstream tourism supply chain. Myself and Vicky are currently working on an impact assessment report for the project, and I look forward to sharing all that stats with you soon.

SemsiProfileWritten by Semsi Toprak, Programme Co-ordinator, Fethiye (Turkey)

Read more about the Taste of Fethiye project.

A cleaner side to Cape Verde…

Santa Maria is among the best beaches in the world, according to the TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards 2016. Crystal clear water, fun waves and golden, soft sand are some ingredients that make this beach so special. Surrounded by international standard hotels and beach clubs, Santa Maria attracts many holidaymakers and locals. If you are looking for tranquility, this is it! But don’t get tricked, at the “Reef” surfing spot you can also ride waves and have breathless experience!

Santa maria beach cleanA way to show love to a place is by giving back, and this is how Revolusal (Sal´s Surfing Association) decided to celebrate their 9th anniversary last weekend. They organised a two-day event at the Reef spot where their members, children and beach-lovers participated in several water sports and environmental education activities.

The Travel Foundation was pleased to support the beach clean-up race where children and adults, residents and holidaymakers, collected about 400 kgs of litter that were on the beach and in the seawater! I loved watching the kids running enthusiastically to get their gloved hands on rubbish and also appreciated the holidaymakers that took 40 minutes of their sunbathing time to help us clean the beach – it is heartwarming to see people visiting my country, caring for it as well.

CV beach cleanHappy kids, positive atmosphere and a truck full of waste were the results of the event. It was disturbing to see the items/rubbish collected, especially those found in the water. More than ever, I’m certain that Sal´s beaches are areas that need special attention in order to guarantee sustainability of this beautiful tourism destination.

Beach cleans are very important, but prevention is a key ingredient as well. Beach-users (visitors and locals), excursion providers, hotel and tour operators need to have responsible attitudes towards the resource that is the very reason of their visit/ business. Travel Foundation will continue to support Revolusal’s commitment to keeping Sal’s beaches clean, and we will work together with other destination partners to improve beach user experiences.

Santa Maria now has a cleaner face. If you do pay it a visit, don’t forget: leave no litter …only your footprints on its soft sand.

*POST UPDATE 01/06/2016*

Last Saturday we supported another beach-clean. This time we joined the Project Biodiversity and other stakeholders in celebrating the World Turtle Day (23rd May). Some 115 volunteers, mostly from the civil society, joined efforts in cleaning the Serra Negra Beach, which is a Natural Reserve located on the southeast of Sal Island. The great teamwork certainly paid off, as they were able to fill up about 68 trash bags! Boy will the turtles be happy next time they come around – that beach has the highest density of nesting Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the island. Kudos!

Dalia GomesWritten by Dalia Gomes, Programme Co-ordinator, Cape Verde.

Read more about the Travel Foundation’s work in Cape Verde.

 

INTERESTED IN ORGANISING A BEACH CLEAN?

Get involved with this year’s Make Holidays Greener campaign, which is all about keeping beaches clean. Find out more >

What’SUP with our Blue Wave project?

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Semsi Toprak paddle boarding in the Fethiye-Gocek Special Environmental Protection Area

The Blue Wave Project takes place in the Fethiye-Gocek Special Environmental Protection Area located in southwest Turkish Mediterranean coast. A working group consisting of cross sector representation from all the stakeholders (marinas, bays, private boat operators, NGOs, local authorities) Chamber of Shipping, TURMEPA – environmental NGO, D-Marin- a private marina group and the Travel Foundation are responsible for delivering the project and co-ordinating activities. The project aims to improve the level of sustainable practices carried out within the sector and amongst tourists, creating a cleaner and more appealing tourism product.

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Around the coast there are around 40 bays or islands that visitors can enjoy. One of the main reasons why tourists visit is to enjoy the beautiful marine environment, with most tourists taking a least one boat trip during their stay. However, the increasing popularity of marine recreation threatens to destroy the very thing that supports the economy of the region – the environment.

Last week I went on a four day solo stand-up paddling (SUP) board tour around Fethiye-Gocek bays and Islands. This was the first time that a person was making a multi-day SUP excursion around that coast, and the idea was to spread the word about the Blue Wave Project to tourist boats and establishments on bays and islands. I paddled about 30 miles; talking to tourists, boat operators and restaurant owners on the way, while demonstrating one of the lowest impact ways of sea travel.

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People were mostly interested in how I was able to carry all I would need including the food that would last four days on a paddleboard. This is one of the ways to demonstrate how minimalist you should think while sailing or traveling with a motor boat. You are there with hundreds of other species sharing the same environment, and being solo and interacting with all that marine and land wildlife made me feel like a real outsider.

 

SemsiProfileWritten by Semsi Toprak, Programme coordinator, Fethiye

Read more about Blue Wave.

Foodie for thought

Ben Peru

I recently spoke at the UNWTO’s World Summit on Gastronomy Tourism in Lima, where our Taste of Fethiye project was held up as best practice.

Taste of Fethiye is not your classic example of gastronomy tourism. Our starting point was how to link small, local farmers to the tourism supply chain. Rather than seeking to attract new “foodie” tourists, we worked within a well-established, mainstream tourism setting.

After listening to food tourism experts from around the world, it became clear that the main hallmarks and benefits of this kind of tourism are that it supports a local supply chain and creates a cultural experience between visitor and host that is hard to beat.LD6H2645

Whilst our main success in Fethiye has been proving that small suppliers can link to big tourism, the project has also done much to create new food experiences, engage customers and support cultural heritage.

For instance, as well as holding many “local food” nights in the hotels, chefs have felt inspired to offer more Turkish cuisine on their menus. We developed food-themed self-guided driving tours (booklets and app) to encourage tourists to explore the rural area and spend locally, and an excursion which visits one of the farms. A Taste of Fethiye local food and craft fair provides a focus for celebrating local enterprises and traditions.

While Taste of Fethiye may not be a typical approach to gastronomy tourism, it has delivered similar results. Thanks to the UNWTO for recognising the importance of the project – both as a Ulysses Award for Innovation finalist, and at the World Summit.

– Ben Lynam, Head of Communications

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Honey cooperative treated like the bee’s knees

Much Kaab

“It’s important that the guests know that these were made with Mayan hands, and with the bee-keeping knowledge that we’ve inherited from our grandparents that helps us save the Melipona bee, the importance of this bee for the environment, and the medicinal properties of its honey, which can be found in our products.”

– Rosalinda, Much Kaab

This April, the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe hotel renewed its arrangement to buy the newly-branded Much Kaab products. The group were invited to deliver the products personally and were received by the hotel’s General manager, Carlos da Silva, Housekeeping Managers Elvia Marcial and Oscar Escobedo.

From their welcome cocktail onwards the women got the VIP treatment, touring the hotel to see the journey their products make to the luxury suites and villas.  The visit concluded with lunch in the staff dining room, with a view of the lagoon.

“Thanks to Much Kaab the hotel can offer a unique product; a product that has been sampled by over guests from over 12 nationalities (americans, Canadians, English, French, Japonese, Brazilians, Argentians, Italians…”

– Mr Da Silva, General Manager

The re-branded honey-based toiletries have a natural formula, and are now being distributed via local wholesaler La Confitería.

The General Manager added that he was grateful to the Travel Foundation, and local
wholesaler, for having introduced him to the world of local procurement, and announced that he was doubling the amount of rooms featuring the toiletries. He is also considering stocking them in another hotel on the island of Cozumel.Yuri

 

By Yuritzin Flores, Mexico Programme Manager

A partnership for adventure in South Africa

To set the scene…The Travel Foundation recently formed a new partnership in South Africa with the Western Cape’s public conservation organisation, CapeNature. Research has been underway to determine how best new tourism developments in and around nature reserves can stimulate the green economy, contribute to conservation and benefit local residents.

Nature reserves bikeSustainable tourism, and especially that in conservation areas, has no set formula and we are seeking opportunities for creative tourism developments. Not wanting to be limited by business-as-usual, potential developments can range from indigenous natural products harvested by local communities to luxury eco-lodges. Given the diverse landscapes and wilderness of the nature reserves, including rugged mountains, bird mecca lagoons and vast tracts of the fynbos floral kingdom, we feel there is a natural inclination to adventure tourism that showcases what nature has to offer.

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Workshop with CapeNature staff

With the project in its initial phase, we’re going to pilot developing tourism products in five reserves. But who is deciding on what these developments are going to be? This is no easy task for one person! We’re generating ideas through in-person surveys with domestic and international tourists in the Western Cape, interviews with Cape Town’s most popular tour operators, destination management companies and adventure specialists, and participatory workshops with CapeNature tourism and conservation staff.

Analysis is still underway but sneak preview results suggest that developments may include a year-round multi-day mountain bike trail, a new range of crafts using mountain- and marine-harvested natural materials, and a specialised guided birding safari. This is an exciting start to novel tourism developments in the Western Cape’s nature reserves and I’m looking forward to how this tourism-conservation-development nexus unfolds.

Written by Jessica Lavelle, consultant working for the Travel Foundation in South Africa.

More on our work in South Africa here.

More on our partnership with CapeNature here.