authentic products

Giving the honey coop a buzz

muchkaab

Yesterday, I had my first ever Skype call with the Much Kaab honey cooperative in Mexico. The group has only recently had the internet installed so I was bracing myself for some technical difficulties. To my pleasant surprise, the whole group appeared on screen with full video and audio. They looked happy, focused and prepared.

They described how they are taking ownership of their business. For example they are planning to travel from their small village to meet with a hotel manager to explain why their prices have gone up. I asked what they’d say, and without hesitation they replied:

“Because they are now made from all natural ingredients, which are better for the environment and for your customers. It also allows us to make a living from this business.”

As the call progressed I noticed something different about them, compared to last year.  They seemed more confident in themselves and in interacting with me. They seem to have taken control of the business and been empowered by becoming more independent, since our direct support ended last year.

Their hard work is starting to be rewarded financially too. They told me that their main hotel client, the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe, following a consultation with guests, has doubled the number of rooms featuring Much Kaab products, therefore doubling their orders of shampoo and soap each month. 

As a result the group has been able to pay each of its eight members a regular salary for the past three months. Things are looking positive, as that same hotel chain has plans to embed this policy of local procurement into their business and also stock Much Kaab products in their hotel on the island of Cozumel.

It’s very motivating to see the results of this pilot project, yet at the same time I am aware that this is just one group in one community and that there is potential to connect lots of other small local businesses to the tourism supply chain.

The Travel Foundation’s new strategy, and the programme of work we’re developing in Mexico, is to work at a more strategic level, in order to have a wider impact in the region.

By Terry Brown, Destinations Programme Officer

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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.

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

Salad Days

Travel Foundation team visits The Severn Project

The team get a look at some of the packaged produce

The team get a look at some of the packaged produce

During the first week of September all the Travel Foundation’s destination programmes coordinators convened at our Bristol HQ – it’s always lovely to see them! One afternoon we took time out from our busy schedule to be inspired by the work of The Severn Project – a ‘Bristol born and bred’ social enterprise and Community Interest Company.

The organisation’s organic urban farm grows salad leaves on around 8.5 acres – giving a new purpose to previously disused land, and providing employment opportunities for local people recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, and those with a history of offending or poor mental health.

The result is fresh, fresh salad leaves which are supplied to local restaurants, alongside real social benefits for employees and the wider community.

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The TF team with Severn Project founder, Steve Glover (2nd from right)

With so many of our overseas programmes focusing on local supply chain and linking the tourism and agricultural industries, our extended team found the visit (and especially the chance to quiz founder Steve Glover) deeply insightful and inspiring. No doubt they’ll be taking some tips back to their respective corners of the globe to implement in existing and future programmes.

Founded in 2010, The Severn Project now supplies 80 customers in Bristol on a weekly basis and is currently in discussions with some well-known UK retailers – so watch out for their produce in a chiller cabinet near you soon!

Getting a buzz out of volunteering…

Every year, TUI employees have the opportunity to apply for ‘Project Discovery’, a volunteering scheme exclusive to TUI, whereby Travel Foundation matches employee skills to those needed on overseas projects.

Alex and RosieMost recently, successful applicants Alex Morris, Senior Retail Marketing Manager, and Rosie Sumner, Product Manager, jetted off to sunny Cancun, Mexico, on 9th August to begin their placement. Here they explain what they’ve been up to whilst they’ve been away:

“Our volunteering project is building upon the success of the Jungle Jams project. Supporting a local Maya cooperative ‘Muuch Kaab’ to sell their honey-based products to tourism-focused businesses and the domestic community. This provides the community with the opportunity to earn a living from tourism, without the need to move away from their villages and families. The project also helps to support the conservation efforts of the Melipona honey bee, which is a unique stingless bee that is in danger of becoming extinct.

Our aim is to support the development of Muuch Kaab’s branding and marketing, whilst guiding two hotels (El Dorado Royale Spa & Resorts and Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe) on communicating ‘buying locally’ to their guests.”

Alex says….

‘From day one we’ve been really busy – meeting the local Travel Foundation representatives, visiting the rural community where the project is based, meeting local hoteliers and talking to customers to understand their views on sustainability practices and local produce’.

Rosie says..

‘For me it’s been an incredible experience to understand how these women have overcome so many challenges and yet still managed to grow their business so successfully from scratch. There’s such a huge contrast between the simple lives they lead in their village, and the hustle and bustle of Cancun which is just an hour’s drive away. It’s a side to Cancún that tourists never really get to see, and it’s really made me realise how important it is that TUI as a tour operator and the wider tourism industry here in Mexico work together to support communities like this’.

brand workshopDuring their time in Cancun, one of the elements of the trip was to deliver a branding and marketing workshop to the community group. Alex says…

‘One of the highlights of the trip has been delivering a branding and marketing workshop to the Muuch Kaab group- we decided to use similar techniques to how we would normally work here in head office, with mood boards and sample beauty products for them to touch and feel. We gathered some really useful feedback on what they want their brand to look like going forwards and sketched out some new designs for them. It was a unique experience and one I’ll never forget’.

Rosie and Alex have a few more days remaining in Cancun, when they’ll be visiting the members of Muuch Kaab one last time to share their findings and feedback, and visiting some local hoteliers to deliver their recommendations on how they improve the communication of their local procurement policies.

And it’s not all hard work, as Rosie explains:

‘Although our itinerary is jam packed with meetings and report writing, we have a few days off whilst we’re here – we’re planning to visit Isla Mujeres on our last day and we’ve also been out visiting some of our other key hotel concepts in between exploring the local area – we’re trying to fit in as much as possible before we head back to our desks in Luton!’

Project Discovery provides extra capacity and expertise on Travel Foundation overseas projects. It also helps build an understanding of sustainability for those who work in the industry, but have UK based desk jobs.

All One, All One… a day in the life of my Maasai office

Kenyan jewellery makers
I am sitting under a large acacia tree overlooking the Maasai Mara listening to the sound of cow bells as a group of young Maasai boys pass by with their grazing herds. Overhead a flock of Crested Cranes fly by making their harmonious “All One, All One” call of unity.

In all directions as far as the eye can see, the black dots of wildebeest are interspersed with the red robes of Kenya’s Maasai people, drifting across the plains to take part in today’s meeting under the tree.

I am here to kick-start a new Maasai women’s livelihood initiative in partnership with the Travel Foundation and the local Kenyan fair trade crafts intermediary BawaHope.

About 100 Maasai women settle down under the shade of the acacia tree and we begin today’s workshop on new product design. I am amazed when the colour wheel the women excitedly paste together from torn out magazine snippets matches exactly the colours forecast to adorn supermodels on the catwalks of London, Paris and Rome next year!

When I ask why they only use bright primary coloured beads to make the jewellery they sell to tourists, the women reply in unison “Because they are our colours – we have always used them”. They would also love to design jewellery in new colours if they could only get the beads.

Kenyan jewelery makingThrough our new “Guaranteed Maasai Crafts Project” we are working hand-in-hand with Maasai women in the Mara Triangle and Suswa, jewellery producers in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenyan designers and the eminent UK beadwork jewellery designer Marilyn Phipps, to design an inspiring new range of contemporary Maasai jewellery that will be wearable and attractive to the UK tourist market, along with the affluent Kenyan domestic market.

We will bypass exploitative brokers by using wholesalers who respect fair trade principles to get the new product range stocked in the gift shops of safari lodges, hotels and retail outlets in Mombasa and Nairobi, giving the Maasai access to new ‘fair trade’ markets and, importantly, a lifeline out of poverty.

As the day draws to a close and we make our way on foot across the African savannah back to the Maasai villages, the boys with their herds of grazing cattle catch us up and cheekily enquire “When are you coming to work with us Maasai men again – we too can make jewellery!”.

Guest Blog by Dr Cheryl Mvula, Director of the social enterprise Tribal Voice Communications 

Find out more about our Guaranteed Maasai Craft Project

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

Cyprus breakfast at the King Jason

Following recent news that the Cyprus Breakfast is to be rolled out across the island, hotels are making this authentic start to the day ever more appealing to holidaymakers.

One of the most representative hotels is the Louis King Jason hotel in Paphos, who have set out a well-decorated display with a wide variety of local foods and a very enthusiastic guide, Maria, explaining to customers about the dishes on display.

Cyprus Breakfast Cyprus BreakfastCyprus Breakfast Cyprus Breakfast Cyprus Breakfast  Cyprus Breakfast

The Cyprus breakfast includes cheeses (halloumi and anari), carob/carob products, grapes, herbs, honey, spoon sweets, yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, cured meats, breads and cakes.

Local businesses can now benefit directly from tourism, with hotels supporting local artisan food producers.

> Find out more on the Cyprus breakfast website

Music, food and craft in Fethiye

kaya3Our Taste of Fethiye project brings hotels and producers together to ensure tourists can enjoy fresh local food while benefiting the region’s agricultural industry. In May the project saw its largest celebration to date, with the popular biannual craft fair turning into a music festival, bringing culture and gastronomy together.

“Taste of Fethiye craft fair has become one of the most looked for attractions in Kaya Village both by the locals and visitors,”

Says Semsi Topak, from our overseas team.

“We’ve cooperated with Fethiye Promotion and Introduction Foundation (FETAV) to organize the craft fair as an event that would be also a part of 8th Fethiye Festival. Musicians including Los Vegabundos, Scott Jeffers and Ahmet Erarslan cleared the rust in the audience’s ears.”

“This year Fethiye Mayor Behcet Saatci visited the craft fair with his deputy Mete Atay. They were very happy with the ongoing overall success of the Taste of Fethiye project and called for a meeting to talk about the future and sustainability of the project in more detail.”

His colleague Vicky Erdogan added:

“The weather was stunning, blue skies and warm but not too hot and the stallholders enjoyed the day and made good sales. We had the most stalls booked to date… 100 tables selling a range of handmade items from wood carvings, felt hats, jewelry, painted pebbles, ceramics to local food such as stuffed vine leaves and pastries.

Many stall holders asked ‘why can’t we do this every month?’.

Working in partnership with the Fethiye Festival was a good opportunity for the craft fair and I also believe added an extra dimension to the festival too… hopefully this partnership can continue each May.”