Family-owned and -operated since 1962, Ghost Mountain Inn in northern KwaZulu Natal recently became Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) certified.
FTT is a not-for-profit company that provides a sustainability management framework, technical support, networking platform, and certification to enable the tourism sector to operate with FTT’s six principles embedded in day-to-day operations.
The FTT logo is the mark of a good holiday and best practice in responsible and Fair Trade Tourism, defined by fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits, and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.
It means that the people who contribute their land, resources, labour and knowledge to tourism are the ones who reap the benefits, and that the natural environment on which it all depends is treated with respect in pursuit of more resilient destinations.
During a rigorous, on-site audit conducted by an independent auditor, Ghost Mountain Inn sailed through its first-ever FTT certification audit, which entails a review of over 180 sustainability criteria, including environmental impact management, cultural heritage, local social and economic benefits, biodiversity conservation, good business practice, and communication.
Craig Rutherfoord, MD of Ghost Mountain Inn, said: “Our Fair Trade journey has been nothing short of remarkable. The Ghost Mountain Inn team have always aimed at being a responsible tourism destination and have spent years sowing into our local community.
“However, when we officially embarked on the FTT journey, it was much like… holding a brand-new infant and wondering if you held the competencies needed. The challenges arose, the adaptations to the ‘norm’ morphed, but before we knew it, we were well on our way and tracking our growth like a proud parent marking those growth spurts on the door frame. All staff became hands-on in holistically nurturing our growth, weaving old and solid practices with new and exciting ones.
“We were, and will remain, challenged to think differently, discuss differently and behave differently – on both a company and personal level. When work and meaning align, magic truly happens. This process has pushed us to go above and beyond in holistically considering all our operations. We look forward to proudly donning this prestigious certification and we encourage our partners to jump on board.”
FTT GM, Lisa Scriven, added that Ghost Mountain Inn was the first newly FTT-certified business since the pandemic, positioning them well to benefit from the increasing demand for independently verified sustainability claims.
Research conducted by Booking.com of more than 29 000 travellers across 30 countries showed that 61% said the pandemic had influenced them to want to travel more sustainably, while 76% said it was difficult to find sustainable tourism products and they had concerns about unverified sustainability claims.
On FTT’s role in addressing this market need, Scriven said: “FTT supports businesses of all sizes and contexts to align their operations with tourism that creates benefits for the destination, and ultimately more rewarding travel experiences. Independent verification then provides assurance to the market that this foundation is in place and that a tourism business is well positioned to progress on its journey of creating positive impacts.”