Green Hotelier Talking Point: Fair Trade Tourism

Fair trade tourism - how can you ensure your trip benefits local people?

Fair trade tourism - how can you ensure your trip benefits local people?

Green Hotelier Talking Point: Fair Trade and Sustainable Supply Chains.

Our Talking Point for February focuses on sustainability in supply chains and also links to Fairtrade Fortnight. Here, Thokozile Qoboza of  Fair Trade Tourism explains why fair trade doesn't just apply to the products and materials you source, but goes far deeper and should consider the local community as well.

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) is about ensuring that the people whose land, natural resources, labour, knowledge and culture are used for tourism, actually derive the benefit. Wouldn’t it be fulfilling  for guests to enjoy a great holiday in South Africa, while at the same time knowing they are contributing towards cultural and environmental conservation and fair treatment of staff and surrounding communities?

Increasingly tourists are looking for more exotic and challenging destinations, and the standard of living gap between them and the local people they’re visiting can be dramatic.

For companies operating in destinations like this – who may be employing from their neighbouring community - the challenge is to manage guest expectations as well as to ensure equitable arrangements for staff and suppliers.

Tourism businesses certified by FTT all adhere to the basic principles of Fair Trade, such as fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing, fair operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.

South Africa has an array of exciting and amazing activities that guests will be looking for when choosing their destination. South Africa is rich in culture, and has many diverse cultures to explore. When guests are selecting their accommodation or activity, hotels should be seeking to ensure that it respects the historical and cultural heritage, as well as human rights within their host community. You should be able to provide information about local culture and customs, and tell guests about your investment in local community development initiatives.

Guests meanwhile need to remember that what is exotic for them, is someone’s everyday life, so any activity should include a programme to ensure the social impacts are positive, respect local residents - especially children - and support local businesses. A good tourism business should create opportunities for guests to become involved in community development activities, actively promote linkages with neighbouring tourism enterprises and enable guests to spend money in the local community.

A business should always make sure that local communities are consulted regarding activities that the business conducts in the area in which they reside. It should also manage its operations so as to avoid negative impacts on both local people and landscapes. Where possible, the business should incorporate local art, architecture and/or cultural heritage. They should also give priority to locally produced, organic, fair trade and environmentally-friendly products and services in their procurement.

Businesses should also ensure that basic services to the community such as water, energy and sanitation are not jeopardised by their operations. They should monitor and implement measures to minimise their consumption; especially the use of scarce and non-renewable resources. They should also be committed to improving environmental knowledge and awareness among staff, guests and the community.

Supporting FTT-certified tourism businesses will benefit the people working in tourism in South Africa. A guest is guaranteed that the business fulfils the FTT criteria and that the money spent actually goes to the people whose land and culture they are exploring.

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