Month: February 2016

The sign of an interesting visit

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Since the Travel Foundation started working on the Island of Sal, in Cape Verde, we noticed that there was a general lack of signage – a simple thing, but essential for informing visitors about sites of importance, flora and fauna, and protected areas.

Data from questionnaires handed out to 255 visitors and 175 residents of Sal in 2015 confirmed that over 75% agreed that it was a very good idea to implement new signage.

It was a long process as we wanted to collect information and experiences from different stakeholders, ensure we achieved an appealing design that would fit into the landscape and choose the correct environmentally friendly material, especially in the case of the beaches.crop2

Today we are very happy with what we have achieved: informative signage that, at the same time, encourages the reader to respect the chosen sites. Pedra de Lume, a cultural heritage site, now has 2 signs with information about its important role in Sal’s development.

Besides contributing to visitors’ interpretation of the site and sharing information about the history of the island, the signs also brought a sense of pride and recognition among the locals.

On Kite beach we listened to the owners of the famous Kite Surfing school on Sal, about their concerns for the safety of visitors coming to practice kite surfing, and therefore we designed a map of the area which we are sure will improve kite surfers’ experiences.

We are so happy and proud to be a part of the process of developing significant tourism sites, although there is still much to do.debora-abu-raya

By Débora Abu-Raya, National Programme Manager.

More about our work in Cape Verde.

New certification for guides in Cape Verde

In January 2016, we supported the Ministry of Tourism on Sal to train local guides, with the aim of improving customer experience, guide knowledge, and the types of excursion on offer.

The training course was designed to address the main constraints that the Travel Foundation identified, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, including lack of diversity of products on offer and lack of knowledge about Cape Verde.

Cape Verde local guidesWe worked with key stakeholders to identify how the course content should be designed, and of course, wanted participants to feel engaged, relate to, and apply the new information they were receiving. Content covered the history of Sal, biodiversity, culture and what there is to see and do.

I’m pleased to say that as the training progressed, participants expressed how much they needed the information and were able to clearly identify the additional needs they have to keep improving their services. In the beginning, it seemed as though participants felt obliged to attend because it was being delivered by the Ministry of Tourism, so it was great to see that everyone saw the value in it.

At the end of the course 100% of guides indicated that the training exceeded or met their expectations, and they commented on how much more they learned about Sal, which they can now share with their customers.

Attendants will receive certification as official guides from the Ministry of Tourism.

We would like to express our gratitude to Ivalena Rosário, technician at the Institute of Cultural Heritage, and biologist Tommy Melo, from Biosfera, for their collaboration on the training. Both offered to keep in contact with the training participants to help with any questions they may have in future.

debora-abu-rayaWritten by Débora Abu-Raya, National Programme Manager.

More about our work in Cape Verde.

Expanding horizons on the Riviera Maya

Mexico Much Kaab women working.jpgWe’ve been working with the Much Kaab co-operative in Mexico since 2009, helping them build a business selling products, such as soap and shampoo, made from Melipona bee honey.

Now, 6 years later, we feel that we’re really beginning to make a difference. Here’s why:

  • The first phase of the project was about the conservation of the stingless bee, and the Mayan tradition of keeping Melipona bees. We established healthy colonies and bee keeping practises. Great stuff – but where’s the tourism link?
  • We moved on to helping the group formally become a co-operative, and develop their skills to enable them to run a business. All good stuff, but again, where’s the link? Where’s the impact?
  • We worked with the co-operative to develop products suitable for the tourism market, bringing together the co-operative and the private sector. There’s the link!
  • The Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe was the first hotel to sign a purchasing agreement with the co-operative. They initially purchased the products for sale in their gift shop, and then also introduced them into guest rooms. Two more hotels followed suit (Grand Palladium Riviera Maya and Karisma Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya), stocking the products in their gift shops. This was a huge step forward for the co-operative. Impact! But we’re not quite there yet…

Mexico Much Kaab honey products.jpgObviously, a lot has happened over the years to develop the Much Kaab business (you can read more on the project history here). The aim was to develop a viable and sustainable business for the group, which has been achieved. Success? Absolutely, but it’s about so much more than this.

For us, the real impact is this:

  • The hotel has introduced a ‘friendly’ procurement policy for local suppliers, such as 50% upfront payments and 50% final payment no longer than 7 days after delivery. This is a huge step forward, considering the hotel industry usually takes 3 to 6 months to release payments.
  • The hotel are so pleased with the products that they are considering introducing them into their sister property in Cozumel.

Mr Carlos da Silva, general manager of the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe, recently visited the co-operative, and said:

“Now that I’ve met with Much Kaab Cooperative, I’m very pleased to see first-hand that through our local procurement policy we are contributing to the growth of this amazing group of Mayan women. It has given me a better appreciation and a broader understanding of what goes in to each and every single shampoo or soap bar that is placed in our Villas.”

It’s been a pleasure to bridge the gap between a local supplier and a large scale tourism business, and watch them both reap the benefits of their new relationship. It’s so important that the tourism industry opens its eyes to the value that local suppliers can bring (and vice versa), and I hope this project can be a great inspiration to others in the industry.

Yuri and TerryWritten by Terry and Yuri.

Terry and Yuri help to manage the programme of work in Mexico. Click on their names to read more about them.