Wild Coast backpackers accommodation, South Africa

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Wild Coast backpackers accommodation, South Africa

We are dedicated to making a difference to the local community and are thus 30% owned by the local Tshezi Community, who receive direct financial benefits from being involved in the business. We aim to encourage growth and empowerment opportunities for the local community through the development of meaningful partnerships. We have been certified by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA). This accreditation is awarded to tourism businesses that adhere to fair trade criteria such as fair wages and working conditions, fairness in operations, purchasing and distribution of benefits, ethical business practice and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.

Education and training:
- Internal staff development is integral in our business. Being situated in a remote rural area we are faced with recruiting from a poorly skilled labour pool. With over 75% of our staff coming from the immediate area, investment in the development and training of our staff is vital. This is achieved through sponsoring staff to further their education, enrolling staff and unemployed community members in learnership programmes, partaking in trainee placement programmes and staff swaps, providing travel incentives, funding staff attendance at international travel shows and expo’s, and giving free internet access to staff.
- We co-ordinate a secondary education bursary programme for local students. This programme sends 3-4 students per year to high school on full 3 year scholarships. We fund one student per year and guests are encouraged to participate to help extend the benefit to more children.

Job creation, skills and small business development:
- By employing locally and supporting local industry we are creating jobs for our community. We purchase as much local produce as possible, provide a point of sale for local hand-crafts, invite traditional singing groups to perform and utilise school children during the holidays to act as guides.
- We have helped several small businesses to develop along side us. These include a laundry service, a drum making enterprise and village based accommodation.

Community development and support:
- Our accommodation is 30% owned by the local Tshezi community
- We co-ordinate fundraising efforts to support the local schools. We have furnished many classrooms, installed burglar bars, funded educational excursions, and bought educational materials.
- We distribute clothing and other items collected from guests to the local community in conjunction with providing education and awareness on tourism and tourists to help encourage interaction and support from community members.
- As mentioned earlier, we also fund and co-ordinate bursaries for secondary education

Conservation and environmental initiatives:
- We have been awarded an Eastern Cape Clean Industry Award for 2007 and strive to maintain environmentally conscious practices.
- Waste Management initiatives include recycling of glass, papers and plastics
- Energy conservation by utilising energy-saving light bulbs
- Water conservation through the use of water saving shower heads and toilet flushing devices, re-use of grey water and utilising collected rain water
- Responsible use of local resources by adhering to seasonal restrictions on seafood, opposing use of indigenous wood for fires, only planting indigenous flora and educating staff on environmental issues

Cultural education and interaction:
- We provide many opportunities for cultural exchanges and in doing so help support our community.
- Homestays – not only creating the opportunity for independent business but also a platform for cultural exchange.
- Village dinners – provide a short interlude into local life where guests can enjoy a traditional meal, singing, dancing and an opportunity to find out what it is like to live in the village. By visiting different communities the benefits are wide-spread
- Day excursions – to visit the sangoma, have lunch at the guides house and a taste of the local brew at a shebeen
- Singing and dancing groups – by inviting groups to perform at we are maintaining the local traditions and providing an insight for tourists

HIV/AIDS education and prevention:
We are dedicated to the prevention of this disease through education and awareness. Internally we have a policy and implementation strategy to ensure that we comply with the legal requirements and that our employees are fully supported. We have held many awareness days, for our staff, their families and the community at large. Workshops are ongoing and we aim to hold one every 6 months to promote voluntary testing and awareness. We support staff in accessing ARV’s, we provide and distribute condoms in all our bathrooms, we display posters promoting awareness and removing ignorance, and we aim to provide an environment that is conducive to openness, disclosure and acceptance.

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