Editorial: Can Improved Fair Trade Boost Africa’s Tourism Industries?

Written by Kimberly Jacobs

It’s undeniable that African countries are becoming the new hot spot for travel and tourism with recommendations from magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure in addition to online sites like TripAdvisor. Tourism is adding to the economic growth that the continent is experiencing as it continues to develop in many different areas.

Such growth in tourism calls for regulation to protect the integrity of both tourists and businesses in the tourism industry.

Playing Fair and Meeting Standards

Organizations like Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) — which “promotes responsible tourism in southern Africa and beyond” — allow businesses to get certified as tourist-friendly, ensuring that certain standards are being upheld. Though economically beneficial, fair trade is a voluntary process.

Fair trade helps smaller establishments but includes all businesses that want to participate and meet the standards of the application and audit process. This ensures they are eco-friendly, sustaining the culture and the land’s natural resources, which makes it appealing to tourists — and ethical when it comes to staff and products beings used.

“According to the UN, as little as 10 percent of the price of a holiday can remain in the local economy (UNCTAD). From 2000 to 2005, the money flowing into Africa from tourism more than doubled from $10.5 billion to $21.3 billion, yet poverty levels there remain acute,” Tourism Concerns reported.

Many smaller run establishments have the potential to be the heart of economic growth, and with the help of tourism can grow and expand further into the middle class. One way this is achieved is through fair market pricing using sites that promote FTT.

But are most tourists aware of this notion? Especially, those looking to stay at fancy resorts and safaris during their visit.

Fair Trade Tourism Stamp of Approval

As tourists venture to countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, and the many others for leisure or business, it should be made more aware in researching accommodations whether a company participates in fair trade tourism. This could make a big difference in selecting a place to stay.

Its very well known that people respond to advertising symbols all across the world when it comes to purchases like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and other big brands.

In South Africa, the “proudly South African” endorsement label is very popular by locals, and “is seen as the forerunner in encouraging sustainability,” AFC Neilson Research reported. Promoting fair trade in tourism could have the same affect on domestic and international tourism with corporations and small businesses toting the stamp.

Placing responsibility on both tourists and businesses can bring a long-lasting change in African tourism that will be beneficial to economies and communities. It’s going to take both parties to ensure ethics that African governments have been known to sometimes overlook or mismanage.

According to Responsible Travel:

“Ninety-three percet of Conde Nast Traveler readers surveyed in 2011 said that travel companies should be responsible for protecting the environment, and 58 percent said their hotel choice is influenced by the support the hotel gives to the local community.”

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