Is a holiday trip sustainable and what are we doing to improve this? With the arrival of the new IPCC report this week, the subject is more topical than ever. We are also concerned about the climate and environmental changes and want to make travel as sustainable as possible. In this article we try to present our vision and measures on this subject as transparently as possible.
Flying and driving
Let me get straight to the point, flying and driving is not sustainable. It is bad for the environment and contributes significantly to global warming. Considered only from that angle, you should therefore no longer travel, especially if it is ‘just’ for a holiday.
Local economy and poaching
But there is also another perspective to this discussion, especially when it comes to the type of trips we offer, namely Safari trips in Botswana and Zambia. The corona crisis and the loss of tourism has revealed a painful problem. The enormous dependence on tourism as a source of income in countries as Zambia and Botswana. The local population desperately needs this income to provide for its livelihood. And as these incomes disappear duet o the impossibility of travel, it has unfortunately led to a strong increase in poverty. It turns out, to get food on the table, people revert to the old method of poaching and eating bushmeat (meat from animals that live in nature parks).
In addition, professional poachers see the absence of tourists as an opportunity and elephants and rhinoceros in particular are shot more often than before.
Tourists are therefore not only necessary for economic reasons, but their presence also ensures that poachers stay away and therefore contribute to the conservation of wildlife and sustainable nature.
12 principles for sustainable tourism
But sustainability goes further. Thanks to the VVKR (the trade association for small-scale travel organisation), we have taken the 12 principles for sustainable tourism as laid down by the United Nations and held up a mirror to ourselves whether and how we comply with them.
According to the UN, sustainable tourism should…
- Be economically viable
In other words, applying sustainability should not lead to the need to stop operating for financial reasons. Of course, this does not only apply to our own company, but also to the local companies that are a part of the travel offer. We believe in earning a normal living, both by the local providers and by ourselves.
- Contribute to the local economy and prosperity
We use local guides as much as possible. They have the knowledge of the environment and wildlife like no other. By offering a fair fee to local guides of approximately €80 per day, we contribute substantially to the local economy. For comparison, the average income in Botswana is about €35 per day and in Zambia €30 per day.
In addition, we offer round trips where various and mostly small-scale campsites / lodges are visited. They in turn contribute to local employment and thus to the economy and prosperity. We make as little use as possible of large lodges where it is not clear how money flows run.
- Contribute to good employment practices, such as good and well-paid jobs without discrimination based on religion, gender or physical condition
Where we can , we do influence that. Unfortunately, we cannot give a 100% guarantee on it. However, we take signals from our customers who have had negative experiences related to this subject at a campsite very seriously. We will also not hesitate to stop including the campsite / lodge in our offer.
- Contribute to equal distribution of economic and other benefits among the local community
The guides we use are all local entrepreneurs and all fees go directly to the relevant guide. So nothing sticks to the well-known bow.
- Contribute to visitors’ expectations such as providing good and safe services without discrimination based on gender, race or physical condition
Everyone is welcome as a customer and we make no distinction. It is mainly up to the traveler to determine whether the type of trip suits him or her. Even though the safety for our traveler is very important to us, we will not go further than advice.
- Involve local communities and other local stakeholders in decision-making and management of tourism activities in their area
Although we involve the local guides, we think we can improve on this. We will have to discuss and approach the way in which we will deal with this in the coming year.
- Protect or improve the quality of life of local communities, including the social structure and the quality of the living environment, all the while avoiding exploitation
This is without doubt one of the most complicated goals of sustainable tourism, because control is hardly feasible for us as a small-scale travel organization. We do however always try to include one or more campsites run by the local community in our travel offer. This ensures that all proceeds go directly to the right people and that exploitation is avoided.
- Respect the cultural identity, traditions and cultural history of the communities in the area
The type of travel and travelers means that we contribute to this. In the future, we plan to make a greater contribution to this, mainly by sponsoring local initiatives.
- Respect the quality of the landscape and the environment
Together with the next point perhaps the most important of all for usd. Driving on existing paths, turning off the engine when you are stationary, taking rubbish with you and throwing it away in the designated places, buying as little plastic as possible are just a few of the advices we give to our travelers as part of the preparation.
- Respect the biological wealth, flora, fauna and their habitats and conditions
Once the trip is booked, every traveler will receive extensive instructions on this matter from us. Both in the form of a personal explanation and also in a reference work. We do this because we consider safety for the traveler-, but also the protection of the flora and fauna for future visitors to be crucial.
- Minimize the use of scarce and non-renewable natural resources
Especially water use is a point of attention. Showering effectively and quickly without leaving the taps open, are some of the standard instructions that we give every traveler before they leave.
We also mainly use electronic brochures, travel proposals and booking confirmations. Our printer has been collecting dust for some time now.
- Minimize pollution of water, soil and air
To get there you cannot avoid flying and traveling there is only possible by car. To compensate somewhat for the CO2 burden of flying and driving, we donate 2 trees to Trees for All for every traveler who books with us. Trees for All are the only CBF recognized organization in the Netherlands where it is possible to offset CO2 through sustainable forest projects and we are happy to contribute to that.
Sustainability is about finding a balance between costs and benefits for the environment and the climate. It can always be done better and more effectively, but by putting these principles on paper, we have committed ourselves to deal with them. For us, sustainability goes beyond just reducing CO2 emissions. By offering safari trips we contribute to the conservation of the flora and fauna in Botswana and Zambia and by compensating for CO2 emissions we make flying a little less bad.