Eco tourism is a major trend for 2014. Katarina Mancama assists eco-conscious travellers and helps companies become more sustainable. HL asked her how... Why green getaways? Investing in the environment helps keep the surroundings pristine, and companies that give back to their communities will ensure patrons receive a warm welcome by staff as well as the people in the area. What to look out for?
- Sustainable tourism certification programmes, Fairtrade Tourism and Heritage, investigate the social, economic and environmental areas of sustainability.
- The Imvelo Awards acknowledge hospitality and tourism businesses that aid sustainability.
- Platforms such as Simply South Africa feature sustainable businesses that are either certified, or independently approved.
- Check if the business supports conservation programmes, uses ecofriendly products and has water and energy efficiency measures in place. Spier Estate in the Western Cape is a fully integrated sustainable business on many levels, of which grey-water recycling is just one small aspect. In Mpumalanga, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve’s Habitat Management Plan includes the pumping of water into pans, clearing encroached grasslands, and correctly placing roads.
- Investing in the wellbeing of personnel is a hallmark of a sustainable business. Look for staff development plans, such as that of Cape Grace hotel’s Employee Wellbeing Programme. Stormsriver Adventures on the Garden Route has prioritised skills development by creating jobs for unemployed youth.
- Does the business support the local communities? In the Overberg, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve’s Growing the Future project is an organic food production and life-skills course that provides an annual training programme to unemployed women from the area, and supplies vegetables and other produce to the hotel. Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge in the Soutpansberg supports local artists and crafters with product and business development.
- Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve (Fairtrade Tourism certified and voted no. 9 in the Top 50 Hotels of the World by Travel + Leisure 2013)
- Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (Fairtrade Tourism certified and third place: The Good Safari Guide: Best Ecological Safari Property in Africa, 2013)
- Mashovhela Lodge (Fairtrade Tourism certified and winner Imvelo Awards: Best Single Resource Management Programme – Energy 2010)
- Maropeng Visitor Centre and Maropeng Hotel (Heritage certified and the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site)