IPD takes Tunisian tourism companies to ITB Berlin 2019

Siroko Travel and Destination Dahar were the first Tunisian tourism businesses to take part in a study tour to ITB Berlin 2019 organised by the IPD Tourism team. There were also companies from Nepal and Ecuador.

The purpose of the study tour was to: learn about ‘how to attend’ travel trade shows, compare how the various country stands work, scout for possible German tour operator partners, attend workshops & networking events and in our case, even have some meetings with potential tour operator partners from Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

The momentum for Tunisia certainly seems to be there with many tour operators expressing an interest in (re)starting their Tunisia tours. The companies will be hopefully be able to benefit from the upswing and develop some great new responsible tourism itineraries that show Tunisia has much more to offer than all-inclusive holidays on the beach. IPD intends to bring many more interesting Tunisian tourism business to ITB in 2020 so watch this space!

In the meantime if you are a tour operator interested in working with IPD then please get in touch via: hagedoorn@importpromotiondesk.de



Tunisia to benefit from new tourism market access program

Tunisia will be one of 3 destinations (Ecuador and Nepal are the other two) to benefit from the German government’s new sustainable tourism market access program managed by the Import Promotion Desk (IPD).

Tunisia has great tourism potential away from the well-known and slightly worn out mass tourism experiences on offer along the coast. It’s just a question of unlocking that potential and putting small responsible tourism products in touch with specialist tour operators in Europe. IPD’s market access program does just that and will work with 10-15 tourism companies for a period of 3 years.

But first we needed to travel to Tunisia and meet relevant tourism stakeholder to get a better idea of current challenges and plans. We met with public and private sector organisations such as the Ministry of Tourism, the national DMO ONTT and various travel trade federations like FTAV, FTH and Fi2T. Common message was the desire to diversify the current tourism offering, unlock lesser visited regions of the country and to develop more sustainable tourism. It is encouraging to learn that adventure travel companies like Intrepid in the UK are gradually returning to Tunisia and taking their guests on exciting tours of the country but there is room for many more tour operators to develop responsible tourism itineraries.

Does your tourism business offer something that would appeal to European tour operators? Have you got the drive and motivation to take part in a 3-year coaching process where we’ll help you improve your business operations and sustainability, get market ready and connect you with tour operator partners in Europe that want to sell Tunisia differently. Participation in the IPD market access program requires the fulfilment of various criteria, among them an evaluation of your company by our tourism experts. We are more than happy to provide you with the exact details.

Get in touch with me if you would like to be sent the IPD flyer with services provided and I will connect you IPD Program Manager Nora Eichkorn. Looking forward to working with you.



Fair Trade Tourism to mentor Pilanesberg Incubator SMMEs

Fair Trade Tourism has partnered with enterprise development agency EICT to provide training and mentorship services to SMMEs adjacent to the Pilansberg National Park involved in the Pilansberg Tourism Incubation Programme – the first tourism incubator of its kind in the country. EICT is a black youth-owned consultancy that provides training, coaching and business advisory services for the SMME sector, ranging from enterprise development, to software, web development and business planning.

The Pilanesberg Tourism Incubation programme is a three-year business development project set up by the Department of Tourism (NDT) in collaboration with North West Provincial Department of Tourism (NWDT) and the Economic Development Unit of the Moses Kotane Local Municipality (MKLM). The project was launched in October 2016 and has identified 50 Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises and enrolled them for development support for the 3 years. The purpose of the programme is to achieve economic growth, reduce poverty and unemployment by providing needs-based enterprise development support to each of the 50 enterprises through needs assessment, gaps identification, growth planning, mentorship, coaching, increasing access to information, funding networks, market exposure and general business advisory services.

EICT partner Akhona Maqwazima said: “Small businesses are the driving force for economic growth and job creation and we are pleased to be working with the National Department of Tourism to assist with their incubator development programme. South Africa’s SMME community is expected to provide 90% of new employment opportunities by 2030 and SMME development in tourism is a key priority area. We identified Fair Trade Tourism as the most appropriate partner to work with in fulfilling our incubator development role.”

Fair Trade Tourism will provide financial management training and mentorship for 10 SMMEs, mainly comprising tour operators and accommodation providers adjacent to Pilanesberg National Park, over the next year. Jane Edge, MD of Fair Trade Tourism said these activities formed part of FTT’s commitment to promoting inclusive tourism growth benefitting SMMEs and co-operatives located around protected areas.

“Unless local black businesses are given the opportunity to integrate into the formal tourism economy around national parks, the future of these parks will be dire,” said Ms Edge. “Rural communities need to derive real tangible value from the wildlife economy and FTT is committed to playing a productive role in facilitating this integration”.

More details on the EICT website.


A fresh new look for Three Trees

In celebration of 10 years at Three Tree Hill this year, Family Blackburn are celebrating by re-aligning design with their steadfast philosophy of sustainable tourism with old fashioned authentic luxury, family values, and personalised service. The new “three tree hill “ logo is inspired by the rich life and scratchy handwriting of one of Africa’s greatest and most renowned story-tellers to have ever lived – Sir Laurens van der Post. Handwriting, together with the summary of what we do at Three Tree Hill – history.nature.culture. makes up our new logo. A celebration of a life well lived, and the ancient, most valuable art of all – storytelling.

We are also excited to announce the launch of our brand new two-bedroomed Kiplings Family Cottage. We want to enable larger families (like our own) to all be under one child-friendly roof in comfort & style.

South African handcrafted fabrics & art fill Kiplings Family cottage. Original circa 1900 newspaper cuttings adorn the walls, as well as a number of custom-designed original artworks from the area. The children’s bedroom room has an en-suite wheelchair-friendly bathroom. In addition, the kitchenette, basin, light switches & door handles  are modified to comfortably facilitate a wheelchair bound person.

More info from the new Three Trees website!


Fair Trade Tourism Launches New Membership Programme

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) launched a new membership programme in May 2017 aimed at tourism businesses that need support with their sustainability measures but do not have the resources to become certified in the short term.

For an annual membership fee, ranging from R1,100 for a sole enterprise to R6,000 for a business with 26-50 staff members, Fair Trade Tourism will guide businesses along the sustainability path, focusing on areas such as legal compliance, labour and staff management, reducing energy, water and waste, fair purchasing and improving market access.

Says Jane Edge, Managing Director of FTT: “Our aim is to bring more smaller businesses into the Fair Trade Tourism value chain, to encourage them to operate more sustainably and to expose them to tour operators who support sustainable efforts. By lowering the threshold for enterprises to access our business development services, we hope to broaden our sustainability impact and contribute to more inclusive growth of the tourism industry.”

Aspirant members need to be approved by FTT’s Client Advisory Committee and to sign a pledge committing them to year-on-year improvements in their sustainability measures. Applicants fill out a self-evaluation form online about their sustainability actions and FTT will produce a gap analysis highlighting areas where the business needs to improve. FTT will provide the toolkits, templates and advice required to assist businesses along the sustainability path.

For more information, contact Thiofhi Ravele, Business Development Services Manager at thiofhi@fairtrade.travel or apply online on www.fairtrade.travel.

FTT Brochure


DICT founder gets PAAZA Conservation Award

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) was excited to receive the PAAZA Conservation Award dedicated to founder, Wilfred Chivell. The Conservation Award is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the conservation of African species diversity or ecosystems.

DICT is a conservation partner of PAAZA – the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. PAAZA’s mission is to guide and accredit all African Zoos and Aquaria to become effective and credible centres of animal welfare, conservation, education and research.

Wilfred was commended for his commitment to marine conservation, in particular how business and conservation can work together. More information on the APSS blog.


Umlani takes stand against trophy hunting

South Africa and the Timbavati have recently seen a heated debate over possible trophy hunting in the Timbavati following an article by Don Pinnock. Both the reserve and the lodge owners have now issued statements as they feel the article was unfair, lacked context and is potentially damaging to the great conservation work and tourism activity that takes place in the area.

Timbavati Statement on recent Don Pinnock Article

The Timbavati management is aware of the article produced by Don Pinnock of Conservation Action Trust. We are disappointed that the presentation of this story is not in line with the facts and information that were openly provided to the Conservation Action Trust. We have offered to host Mr Pinnock at the Timbavati to show him what we do and why our strategy has been so successful to date, an offer which he ignored.

We are distressed that Mr Pinnock seems confused about our explanation that the lodges within the Timbavati play no role in the management of the reserve and in many cases are independently owned tenants of the reserve.

The heading of his article and the vague wording have led to unfortunate social media debate and aggression towards the lodges within the reserve, which we feel is unfair, and we call on all tourists and travel trade members to exercise caution and discretion when interpreting Mr Pinnock’s article.

We would like to make reference to two glaring factual inaccuracies in Mr Pinnock’s article:

The reference in the article to the potential hunt of a “Super Tusker” and “Iconic Tusker” is factually incorrect. It was confirmed to the author when answering his questions that nobody will be hunting a “Super Tusker”, nor any “Iconic Tusker”, nor any named or collared animals.

The reference to the possibility of a leopard being hunted in the Timbavati is also incorrect. It was confirmed in correspondence with Mr. Pinnock that no leopard hunts will take place whilst a nation-wide moratorium is in place.

In addition, the numbers and statistics presented in the article are not pertinent to the Timbavati, and do not represent the figures offered by Timbavati to Mr Pinnock. Our understanding is that his figures relate to an area almost 4 times the size of the Timbavati, including 3 other Private Nature Reserves.

We are proudly regarded as one of Africa’s conservation success stories by both local and international authorities, with our wildlife population numbers increasing continuously, and particularly elephant population numbers, which have increased by over 400% in the last 20 years. We are extremely proud that our hardworking team has managed to curtail rhino poaching in the face of a rising wildlife crime pandemic. We have had no poaching incidents on Timbavati in the last 18 months.

In addition to this, we enjoy a truly productive, co-operative relationship with all of our neighbouring reserves, a relationship which we value highly.

Statement from Marco Schiess, Umlani Bushcamp

I personally (Umlani) have been opposed to the hunting to generate income for the reserves conservation efforts. Unfortunately Timbavati is a democratically run and the anti-hunting lobby is smaller than the pro-hunting lobby. I have been opposed to hunting for many years and have always worked at reducing the reliance on hunting income for the reserves conservation efforts . The conservation levy that tourists pay covers only a small portion of the budget. The pro-hunting lobby think that tourism has more impact on the wilderness than hunting and so they support hunting as a means to generate income to run the conservation efforts.

All the lodges oppose the hunting naturally but we are the ones who get punished for something we do not support and the hunting lobby wins all the way. It is a matter of time before the hunting is over and Timbavati will need to find other ways of generating income for conservation efforts.

The Don Pinnock article misrepresented some facts, the numbers quoted in the article are for the entire APNR like Timbavati , Klaserie , Umbabate , Balule agreed to by Kruger National Park. The campaign has been directed specifically at Timbavati lodges? All other lodges in Klaserie , Balule etc are also in the same boat as us.

There has been selective hunting and tourism in Timbavati for years, it’s still the same place nothing has changed other than orchestrated media campaign organised by “Conservation Action Trust” whose trustees seem to have a vested interest in destroying the non-hunting photographic tourism lodges in Timbavati .

All the lodges have put out a joint statement as well which you can find here.


Meet Ubuntu Experiences in 2017


We are starting 2017 off in full swing with several travel trade events lined up for the next few months where we would love to meet you! Ubuntu Experiences currently consists of:


Africa Showcase Nordic Roadshow Feb/March 2017 – Emilie is travelling up North to represent Umlani Bushcamp, Three Tree Hill Lodge, Morning Sun Nature Reserve, Marine Dynamics & Dyer Island Cruises, Influence Tours and special Fair Trade certified guest Bahia Mar Club from Mozambique. More details from On Show Solutions.

ITB Berlin March 2017– Emilie will be roaming but is happy to meet on Thursday 9 March should you wish to learn more about any of the companies. Email Emilie to set up a meeting.

WTM AFRICA – Several of the Ubuntu Experiences companies will be exhibiting this year and are keen to meet you. Use WTM Africa’s appointment tool to set up meetings with them. The system has just been openend. You can find them at the following stands:

Do get in touch if you are having trouble reaching anyone. Am always happy to connect you. Looking forward to seeing you either in Europe or in South Africa!

Regards, Emilie.


Bye bye 2016, hello 2017!

Wow, that was quick, where did 2016 go? It’s been a fantastic year for Green Heart Tourism and Ubuntu Experiences. Time to reflect and be thankful.

2016 was full of travel trade events in Holland, Germany, the Nordics, South Africa and the UK. I think we can safely say we did enough market acces work this past year! The response to Ubuntu Experiences is very encouraging and goes to show you tour operators are certainly looking for tourism experiences that give back and help create better places to live. And their guests love it too!

It was a huge privilege to be able to visit and support my Ubuntu Experiences clients in South Africa in April (in combination with WTM Africa) and in September and October. Being able to provide responsible tourism support on-site as well as market acces work in Europe is what makes my work so much more interesting and effective. 2017 has many events already lined up in Holland and the Nordics. Check here to see where we will be in 2017 and let us know if you would like to meet.

Alongside Ubuntu Experiences I have been busy in Europe and South Africa auditing outbound and inbound tour operators for Travelife but the real cherry on the cake has been my involvement with CBI as a sustainability coach for small inbound tour operators in Indonesia. It’s been a rewarding experience for me personally and has allowed me to return to a place I lived in pre-career change to responsible tourism. I look forward to wrapping up halfway through 2017. Who knows I may even squeeze in a responsible holiday while I am at it!

2017 is going to be an important year for everyone working in responsible tourism. It is after all the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development which aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute to the SDGs.  The #IY2017 will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:

  1. Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
  2. Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
  3. Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
  4. Cultural values, diversity and heritage
  5. Mutual understanding, peace and security.

So, 2017 seems like a year to get cracking , don’t you think? A big thank you to all my clients and various partners for working towards creating better places to live and visit with me this past year. We need to do this together. Looking forward to new and exciting developments in the pipeline. Wishing you all a fantastic 2017!

Regards, Emilie