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?

DCIM100GOPROG0072677.

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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2963.

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.

DCIM100GOPROG0112905.

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

Capture2

 

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.

DSC_0108.JPG

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.

 

Making waves in Fethiye

LD6H8867Earlier this year I joined the Travel Foundation, and currently manage programmes in Turkey and Cyprus…

I am particularly excited about Blue Wave, which aims to improve sustainable boating practice in the Muğla region. This part of Turkey is well known for its pristine coastline, but is experiencing increasing demand on its marinas and bays.

With a high level of engagement and support from local stakeholders – private, public and the municipalities – Blue Wave is bringing together stakeholders with the shared goal of strengthening sustainable marine practices. This will include work such as training for staff, information for tourists, sustainable action plans for bays and so on.

The project is contributing to the development of Fethiye as a sustainable tourism destination, while also building on the Taste of Fethiye project, which increased the benefits farmers gain from tourism and encouraged good farming practices.

For the upcoming season, a Blue Wave stakeholder is planning to support Taste
of Fethiye farmers by sourcing the fruit and vegetables for one of its tours from them. This can only encourage other stakeholders to follow suit.

Although strengthening sustainability can take time, local stakeholders in Fethiye are actively collaborating, sharing and implementing best practices. Could we ask for more? 

Jane Rowan, Destinations Programme OfficerJane Rowan

The sign of an interesting visit

crop

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.