Fair Trade Tourism represents Africa’s most responsible tourism portfolio, with 188 businesses either directly certified or officially recognised by the organisation in eight countries.

When FTT decided to expand outside South Africa five years ago, a two-pronged approach was chosen. In countries with no credible certification scheme, FTT offered its own standard, applying its certification criteria to the laws of the country. So far this has been done in Madagascar and Mozambique with moves afoot to commence certifying in Zimbabwe. In countries with their own certification schemes, FTT sought to include Mutual Recognition Agreements with the scheme, provided the standard complied with all FTT’s mandatory criteria. This has been successfully achieved with Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label and Botswana Ecotourism, and with the top-tier standard of EcoAwards Namibia, Responsible Tourism Tanzania and Ecotourism Kenya.

To date, FTT has 80 businesses certified in South Africa, eight in Madagascar and six in Mozambique. This is augmented by nine recognised businesses in Tanzania, eight in Seychelles, 21 in Namibia, 26 in Botswana and 30 in Kenya. Together these 188 businesses make a considerable and positive impact on their environment – they employ more than 6 000 local people, spend nearly $1.2 million on training, make a direct contribution of nearly $4 million to local communities and inject nearly $35 million into their local economies by procuring local goods and services. Environmentally, these businesses minimise and recycle waste, conserve water, use alternative energy sources where possible and help to conserve local flora and fauna.

Increasingly these businesses are being recognised for their efforts in terms of support from sustainability-savvy tour operators and travellers. Nearly 60 tour operators have been officially approved by FTT and in turn they are obligated to promote FTT businesses and sell Fair Trade Holidays.

“Tour operators are now able to combine almost 200 FTT products across eight African countries, which significantly increases their appeal to become Fair Trade Tourism Approved and to provide access to these products in overseas markets under the Fair Trade Holiday brand,” says Manuel Bollmann, Trade Relations Manager at Fair Trade Tourism.