Month: June 2016

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 >