A growing number of tour operators and lodges are joining southern Africa’s largest tourism certification scheme – Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) – as the organisation expands its operations across the region.
There are currently 43 FTT-certified businesses in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia. And according to FTT GM Lisa Scriven, the community of tourism stakeholders certified with the scheme is growing as sustainability becomes a business essential.
“In addition to FTT-certified businesses, there are 15 members progressing along the journey of aligning their operations with the principles of Fair Trade and responsible tourism. FTT has also been approached to offer its technical support system and certification in Uganda, which will launch in 2024,” said Scriven, pointing out that 50 new members from Uganda would be implementing FTT principles in the first half of the new year.
FTT has also leveraged its partnership with Travelife, the largest certification scheme for tour operators globally, supporting tour operators and agents in southern Africa to achieve Travelife Partner or Travelife Certified status, which simultaneously gives FTT approval.
“This connects the captive market of Travelife-affiliated buyers that are seeking sustainable products, with FTT-Certified businesses in the destination. These operators are afforded the unique opportunity of packaging ‘Fair Trade Holidays’ under a dedicated brand for differentiation in the market,” said Scriven.
She said FTT was continuing to support stakeholders with the certification process and focusing on the increasing need for sustainability.
“Managing the tourism industry for the benefit of the people and natural environment in destinations is essential. Being awarded certification is by no means essential, but for those who see the market benefit of having their operations independently audited, this option is available to them.”
She added that FTT-certified businesses were afforded a preferential marketing position on online platforms such as Expedia and Booking.com. The certification scheme was rated by industry peers earlier this year as being among the top 24 of more than 200 such initiatives in operation globally.
“We're grateful for this recognition by industry, the market, and the ongoing support of tour operators who choose FTT-Certified businesses because of the exceptional experience and transparency of their claims,” said Scriven.