Cape Verde

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.

Bringing the Message: Sustainability Training in Sal

Insider Guide to SalDébora Abu-Raya, National Destination Manager, Cape Verde explains how training is benefiting Sal…

Last month, to mark the launch of the new Insider Guide to Sal, Cape Verde, the Travel Foundation delivered the first of several planned workshops with tour operator resort teams.

The training explained the concept of sustainability, and how it can be communicated to customers in a fun, non-obtrusive way.

Using this method we believe that customer satisfaction levels will not only increase but also the benefits of tourism to the economic, social and environmental make-up of the island will have a much wider impact, whilst the possible negative impacts are better managed.

When high season begins, reps are “taken by the wave” so it is difficult to get more involved with the destination and meet customer demands for information about the local community.

The first batch of reps to receive the training were from tour operator Thomas Cook. They were intrigued but not quite sure what to expect, but they soon warmed up and left empowered, knowing that they could do more, and aiming to do so.

The training covered practical ways of improving walking tours, increasing their knowledge about Sal so as to pass more and better information to customers. Reps will also start promoting the Insider Guide to Sal, encouraging visitors to explore the island a little more.

What I tried to show them was that small steps, when taken in the right way,  may bring huge benefits to a destination and they, as a holiday rep, can leave in six months knowing that they made a difference to the destination and its community and that will last a long time after they leave.

So, when it comes to sustainability in tourism there are many people who think it’s just a waste of time or an illusion at first sight, and for us who are bringing the message sometimes it demands a lot of energy and really positive vibes! But then when we finally get the opportunity to implement actions and see changes happening, it’s just amazing and suddenly you get filled with double the energy to continue.

debora-abu-raya

 

Débora Abu-Raya, Overseas team

> Read our ‘Insider Guide to Sal, Cape Verde’

The future is bright for Cape Verde

Tom ArmittTom Armitt recently joined the Travel Foundation as a new Destination Programme Officer. 

Half way through my second month at The Travel Foundation, and I am starting to get my head around the responsibilities that I have been assigned.

I was first put in charge of the Cape Verde programme: an interesting destination for me as I started my tourism career in West Africa researching the possibilities for the development of community-based Ecotourism in Senegal, and working closely with local communities to design and manage heritage trail tourism experiences in Sierra Leone.

Cape Verde has a lot of potential for the implementation of Sustainable Tourism principles within its fast-growing tourism industry. While big-complex, all-inclusive tourism is holding sway, the 10 island archipelago seems to have learned from other nations’ mistakes and has set its sights on sustainability. It has recently been in the news for increasing its renewable energy output by 300%.

On Sal, the island where The Travel Foundation works, a Destination Council has been created, bringing tourism stakeholders together from the public, private and third sectors to ensure that sustainability principles are made part and parcel of the island’s tourism development strategy. Slowly but surely this initiative is taking root, and the council has built on some of the Travel Foundation’s past work with the Cape Verdean Crafts, Discover the Real Sal and Better Beaches programmes.

In my opinion, the future is bright for Cape Verde, the future is sustainable tourism!

– Tom Armitt

sal-cape-verde-beach

Crafting a sustainable future in Sal

debora-abu-rayaToday’s blog is a guest article from Débora Abu-Raya, who is based in Sal, Cape Verde. Débora joined the TF team in July 2013 and has since been working to build our programme of work on the Island of Sal. Today, Débora updates us with the latest from the Cape Verdean Craft project. The project aims to increase the awareness, provision and competitive nature of the Cape Verdean craft offering in Sal, increasing sales to tourists to improve the livelihoods of artisans and help create a more unique tourism product. More on the project here.


As a Cape Verdean, I want to see tourists shopping for locally made crafts, and taking something home that is unique to the islands. Aside from the romantic notion that a little bit of Cape Verde will be spread around the world, it’s vital that local businesses are able to benefit from tourism, and that as a destination we’re providing a unique, quality experience, in order to protect our future in tourism.

Craft producer SalCape Verdean craft producers and vendors haven’t had it easy since the growth of tourism on Sal. Initial research showed that imports, lack of knowledge, lack of diversity of products and poor access to market have all contributed to a difficult market place. On top of that, there was very little communication between producers, vendors, regulatory bodies and the ministries. We were left asking questions such as…who could help? How could we help to protect the future of Cape Verdean craftspeople in Sal?

With backing from the Destination Council (you can read more on that here), we pulled together a strong group of influencers from both public and private sectors that would help us address some of the issues, and more importantly, co-ordinate efforts and take ownership in the long term.

A year on, I was so pleased to organise a workshop for local craftspeople, being run by two designers from M_EIA (University Institute of Art, Technology and Culture in Cape Verde). It focussed on meeting customer demand and customer service. Leão Lopes led the 5 day workshop, and recognised that due to the lack of formal training, traditional craftspeople in Cape Verde were getting lost in the market. We collaborated to design the training course to address issues found in the initial research.

Andrea Monteiro from LAlambicIt’s rewarding to see a year’s worth of research, planning and future-proofing reaching the local craftspeople. On the day, I spoke to craft producer Andrea Monteiro who said “This training helped me to have a more critical look into my work and to be aware to the need of constant innovation. We had an excellent trainer, who obviously knows very well the craft and design areas/sectors in Cape Verde, and that lead me to know more about what’s happening in other islands with craft and to get more info about designers that I can work with.”

The project is due to finish in December, and I don’t want to jump the gun, but I think we’re almost at the point where we can answer my earlier questions…

Who could help? Input is needed from many parties, and to list all those involved would be too long (you can read that here!) but to make this project work we needed, and got, buy in from all sectors – public, private and NGO.
How could we help protect the future of craft in Sal? Our approach was to first understand the issues, then bring together the people who influence those. Of course, upskilling the producers and vendors was important, but without a supporting network, it wouldn’t have a lasting effect.

Sal Paintball makes holidays greener

Sal beach cleanOn 12th July around 40 people came together in Sal, Cape Verde, to clean about 2km of beach. Almost 500kg of rubbish was collected, mainly plastic bottles and fishing gear (fishing nets and containers) washed up on Kite beach, on the East coast of Sal.

The most unusual items they collected were a water boiler, a gas bottle, and a pepper shaker. The most common pieces of trash were plastic bottles – around 300 of them in all, which underlines how important it is for everyone to try and reduce their single-use plastic (e.g. with re-usable bottles).

Thank you so much to all the participants and organisers, and especially to Sal Paintball and Explore CV for the lunch, drinks and activities at the end of the beach cleaning, and to the CMSal (City Hall) for supplying water, bin bags and transport. Sal beach clean Photos: Duncan Gillies, Sal Paintballers.

Getting a share of the tourist dollar

IMG_2656In 2014 we carried out research into the supply and customer demand of Cape Verdean crafts in Sal, and ran a 5 day workshop for 15 craft producers and 11 vendors with the help of craft experts Unearthed.

But what difference did our training make? Would changes to product design and pricing help the artisans to make more sales to tourists? We found out in June, at a small craft market at the Oasis Atlantico Salinas Sea Hotel.

In preparation for the event, five artisans received some extra coaching on what selection of products to bring to the fair, how to approach customers, and how to present their stalls, for example, by decorating them with traditional fabrics and palms.

Andreia Monteiro from L’Alambic, who produces a wide range of the local liquor grogue, developed recycled packaging as a result of the training. She was delighted with their sales on the day, saying:

“It was such a good day for us and since the market we’ve had a number of customers coming into our shop who said they’d seen us at the market – I wish we could do more of these hotel craft markets!”

Sotero Lopes who creates white turtle, flower and heart necklace pendants from shells has changed the thread he uses from white to black to show off the pendants more and sold almost double what we would usually expect to sell at a day at the craft market.

Djumanga, who carves large wooden statues from driftwood that appear in a few local hotel lobbies has started producing carvings in smaller sizes that tourists can pack in their suitcases. At the fair he made twice what he used to make at the beach.

In July, five more craft producers who attended the training will appear at the hotel craft market, and the General Manager has said she’d like to make it a weekly event for her European guests.

Follow up training, and technical design support for the craft producers is being planned for 2015.IMG_2660

A pinch of Sal: a year of projects in Cape Verde

Volunteers Cape Verde

Volunteers in Cape Verde

Our three projects in Cape Verde – Better Beaches, Discover the Real Sal and Cape Verdean Craft – all launched in January 2014, with the aim of supporting the island of Sal to become a leader in sustainable tourism.

I visited Sal for the first time in May and was struck by its stark beauty and semi-lunar landscapes, and the carefree attitude of its residents. Life seems to dance around finding the perfect wave, followed by happy hour at a Santa Maria bar. Many visitors to Sal don’t have a chance to experience this side of Cape Verdean culture and I left hoping we might be able to change that.

Two particular achievements from 2014 really stand out for me. Firstly, creating the Travel Foundation’s first National Volunteering Programme, recruiting and training 12 volunteers who, from October to December, spent over 500 hours conducting surveys with residents and visitors and collecting data against Greener Beach criteria on eight beaches. The volunteers gained work experience, an insight into the tourism industry in Sal, and the chance to interact with people from different cultures.

Cape Verde craft training

Secondly, I’m particularly proud of the five day workshop we held with 15 craft producers and 11 vendors, covering topics such as costing and pricing, the green market and product design. Craft consultants Unearthed facilitated the training based on their decades of experience supporting producers in Africa, and I was lucky enough to be in Sal at the same time.

Handing out training certificates to the producers at the end of the week was a particularly emotional moment, and I know the training will have a real impact on how they make and sell products.

Now the pressure is on to keep up the momentum for 2015 and support the craft producers in product design and development, and help them get their wares into hotel shops.

 

– Isabel Kearney, Destinations Programme OfficerIsabel

Read more about our Cape Verde programme here >

Serra Negra beach clean in Cape Verde for World Oceans Day

Serra Negra beach clean, Sal, Cape Verde

To celebrate World Oceans Day and Make Holidays Greener Month, the Travel Foundation worked with the Sal-based NGO SOS Tartarugas to organise a beach clean in Serra Negra, Cape Verde.

25 participants collected approximately 700kg of rubbish over 3.5 hours, including fishing nets, plastic boxes, wood and glass – enough to fill three pick-up trucks.

Members of the Sal Destination Council kindly supported the beach clean:

  • APP (water and electricity company) donated 100 rubbish bags
  • Hotel Oasis Salinas Sea donated 25 litres of drinking water and rubbish bags
  • RIU Hotel donated 30 bottles of juice, rubbish bags and cups
  • Guiantur, the Association of Tourist Guides, gave use of their pick-up truck
  • City Hall of Sal donated rubbish bags

The event was also supported by the Protected Areas Project, which provided a pick-up truck and driver, and School Kim Barbosa, which provided catering equipment. A traditional Cape Verdean hearty stew called cachupa was made by a lady called Felipa for the beach clean team.

Serra Negra beach clean, Sal, Cape Verde - Cachupa time

The Travel Foundation’s National Programme Manager for Cape Verde, Débora Abu-Raya said, “Despite the amount of rubbish we collected from Serra Negra, we still have a long way to go before the beach is clear of plastic. As our Better Beaches project progresses, we’re hoping to encourage more local residents and visitors to come to beach cleans and take better care of the beach environment. I’m sure we will get there!”

By Isabel Kearney, Destinations Programme Officer

Cape Verde Destination Council welcomes new sustainable tourism projects

Destination Council in Sal, Cape Verde

Destination Council in Sal, Cape Verde

Destinations Programme Officer Isabel Kearney gives an update from Cape Verde…

Last week, 18 members of the Destination Council for Sal, Cape Verde, met at Hotel Oasis Salinas Sea. The Destination Council was set up by the Travel Foundation to bring together key tourism stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, local government, NGOs, hotels, tour operators and ground agents.

Collectively the council is working towards a vision of Sal as “a welcoming, clean and beautiful island, full of Cape Verdean culture, tradition, craft and music. A destination recognised internationally for sustainability, protecting the environment and involving local communities”.

sal-cape-verde-children

During the meeting National Programme Manager Débora Abu-Raya gave members an update on the Travel Foundation’s three new projects in SalBetter Beaches, Discover the Real Sal, and Cape Verdean Craft – and the council discussed how they could get involved in activities and involve other stakeholders.

sal-cape-verde-beach

Questions were raised about how to deal with stray dogs on the beaches and the quantity of litter being washed up – members who had organised beach cleans shared shocking stories of the amount of litter collected in just one hour. Through the Better Beaches project, and with the cooperation of residents and visitors to Sal, the Travel Foundation hopes to improve the beach environment so that it can be enjoyed by more people.

Débora said, “I’m really pleased that the second Destination Council meeting went so well. Members are engaged in the projects and showed real passion for turning Sal into a sustainable tourism destination.”

Over the coming months, the Destination Council will be working on a joint action plan in order to achieve this vision for Sal, as well as contributing resources towards a beach clean for World Oceans Day on 8 June.