Ben Keene writes about responsible tourism in the tribewanted site where a small eco-tourism venture continues on Mali Island, near Labasa. I like his ideas but there are too many questions Ben!
Responsible and fairly traded tourism at Tribewanted
Community → Ben Keene's blog
By bengazi, Vorovoro, Fiji
Posted 5 days ago
Fair trade is an attempt to slow down economic activity to match the pace of culture; it is commerce with a conscience. For those of us who travel, it doesn’t take long to realize that the resilience of culture will wear thin and eventually break when it is made to conform to the speed of commerce.
We must ask, in the words of Barack Obama “not only is this profitable, but is it right?”
At Tribewanted we aim to maintain economic growth for ourselves and the local community without sacrificing the fundamental rights, dignity, and health of the land and people involved. We realize that there is and seek to understand the intimate link between culture and the environment and we take every opportunity to reach our decisions based on relevant environmental, financial, and social issues, the three elements of social enterprise.
Our decision making process in regards to fair trade and responsible tourism is based not only on developed and undeveloped but also on the reality that discrimination and exploitation exists throughout all levels of society and that commerce when practiced with a conscience can be a powerful tool in the fight to protect the environment and preserve and empower all cultures.
In the evolving spaces of responsible tourism and social networking, the answers are very rarely straight forward. Making decisions based on these principles can take time. To help us facilitate a more holistic decision making process we have implemented a few internal guidelines for everybody involved with our project.
Is it good for the environment both local and global?
•What effect will the proposal have on the Tribewanted’s carbon footprint?
•Will the proposal encourage greater levels of energy efficiency in the local community?
•Will the proposal encourage the use of renewable energy in the local community?
•Does the proposal maximise opportunities for effecient use of resources?
•Does the proposal favor the use of renewable local resources including recycled materials?
•Does the proposal have a plan for minimizing waste and waste disposal?
•Does the proposal include a plan for minimizing water use and encouraging water efficiency?
Is it good for the people?
•Does the decision address the needs of all members of the local/Tribewanted community?
•What effect will this decision have on the development of a healthy, equitable, and involved local/Tribewanted community?
•What effect will the decision have on the safety of the Tribewanted village?
•What effect will this decision have on the cultural heritage of local community?
•Will the proposal help improve the educational resources of the local/Tribewnated community?
Is it economically sustainable?
•How much ongoing maintenance will the proposal require and does it minimize those costs?
•Does the proposal show an eventual return on investment?
•Can the proposal be structured to provide other opportunities for generating revenue?
•Will the proposal enhance the value of the Tribewanted experience and/or Tribewanted’s assets including the natural beauty of the local environment?
•Will the proposal encourage additional investment in the region?
•Do all involved parties fully understand the proposal and it’s implications?
•Based on feedback from all parties, can the proposal be improved upon in any way?
Since the start of the project in September 2006 we have had successes and failures. Everyday, lessons are learned that help us come closer to realizing our goals. Maintaining a positive triple bottom line in Fiji has been and will continue to be a delicate balancing act and though we occasionally experience set backs, over the long run significant progress has been made.
The future of Tribewanted: Vorovoro is bright and our efforts to promote responsible tourism and actively engage in developing a sustainable eco-community on Vorovoro are met with widespread enthusiasm from the local community. Here is a short list of some of our achievements many of which would have been impossible were it not for the close relationship that we have worked hard to establish with the local people.
•Regular village meetings and workshops are organised to discuss ideas and proposals.
•Community groups work closely with us in developing conservation and management plans. We work to empower local communities to manage their own resources.
•Wherever possible, food and supplies for the camp are purchased from local sources.
•Tribemembers are encouraged to build relationships with community members through involvement in local schools, purchasing goods from local shops and spending time in villages.
•Tribewanted works to develop alternative livelihoods in the communities in which we work, to reduce the fishing pressure on fragile marine ecosystems and to try to improve the economic status of poor and isolated communities. Recent examples of these initiatives have included a vegetable co-op with the youth group from Nakawaga, an arts, crafts, and souvenir business to support local women.
•Tribewanted, with support from our team and tribe members, has provided over $10,000 for school scholarships over the past 2 1/2 years. These scholarships allow children whose families cannot afford school fees to receive education from the primary up to the university level.
•Island team members carry out beach clean-ups in partnership with local communities.
•Fresh water use is minimized, and water is conserved wherever possible.
•All waste is sorted and disposed of responsibly.
•Island team members and the kitchen staff use only biodegradable cleaning products.
•Tribe members are encouraged to offset carbon emissions from their flights to Fiji
•In the Tribewanted village, all electricity is produced using sustainable technologies.
•A strong commitment to to teaching sustainability through our regular workshops, seminars, and forum discussions, The Mali District School Green Club, and H.O.P.E. Labasa
•Working with local villagers and students from the University of the South Pacific, and in cooperation with the WCS and WWF, Tribewanted monitors the impacts of fishing activities on marine systems and species. By training villagers to record the size, number, species, and weight of catches regularly brought into villages by local fishermen. This data is then used to track changes in species populations and marine health, and to develop appropriate conservation strategies.
In order to help accelerate our progress we have also committed to the following objectives:
•Off-setting carbon emissions on flights for the Tribewanted team to and within Fiji as well as emissions resulting from the development and running of the Vorovoro community by purchasing carbon offsets. We also commit to encourage all tribe members to do the same.
•To work in partnership with Tui Mali and local fishing villages, considering the impact of each and every one of the tribe’s actions on these communities.
•To support local community projects both financially and with volunteers under the guidance of development experts.
•To generate local employment.
•To consider with each decision the tribe makes, the impact on the terrestrial and marine environments.
•To promote and raise awareness for sustainable and earth friendly living and travel as a real option for both tourists and communities around the world.
•Continue to support our local, family-run, taxi and hotel partners.
•Continue to help our members’ to respect and apreciate this environmentally and culturally sensitive region of Fiji through cultural classes, a comprehensive orientation, and informal discussions both on and off the island.
•Encourage our business partners to adopt more comprehensive environmental policies.
Everyday we all make decisions that impact our environment and those around us. To often these decisions discount or ignore their environmental repercussions.
Implementing a fair trade policy has helped us to be more responsible not only in our activities here in Fiji but also in our own lives off the island as we become more aware of the environmental implications of our actions. We hope that reading this will inspire you to take responsibility for your own actions as well. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org