Fair Trade Tourism and Dr Xavier Font at Respondeco (Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom), experts on marketing and communicating sustainability in tourism, have been working on an exciting new toolkit for tourism businesses, titled Keep It Real South Africa.
The toolkit is modelled on existing ones from VisitEngland, developed for England, Wales and Ireland, to help tourism businesses communicate more effectively about responsible tourism.
The toolkit was launched on Saturday 10 May during a networking event hosted by Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) at INDABA 2014.
The Keep It Real South Africa toolkit features responsible tourism communication case studies from FTT-certified businesses, including accommodation establishments, activity providers, visitor attractions and a tour operator.
Maropeng is one of the responsible tourism businesses featured in the toolkit as a case study.
“For all the case studies in the toolkit, the main reason for selecting them is that they are good examples of communication that can easily be copied by other businesses,” says FTT sales manager Emilie Hagedoorn “Maropeng talks about its various sustainability actions as often as possible through various platforms, so guests know exactly what is going on behind the scenes.”
Many responsible tourism businesses, both FTT-certified and non-certified, underestimate how hard this type of communication is and often miss opportunities to really make what they do relevant to guests.
Maropeng’s marketing and communications manager, Lindsay Marshall, says: “Towards the end of last year, we were approached by Fair Trade Tourism to showcase what we had done to communicate how we as a business operate in a sustainable way, as this is one of the key areas for Fair Trade. So we put together examples of how this had been done, including press releases, website and social media.
“It was a very interesting exercise to do because it has made me realise that there are areas we are lacking in, or could improve further in – for example staff communication – when it comes to sustainability issues.”
The toolkit provides FTT-certified businesses with an opportunity to get valuable feedback from responsible tourism communication experts, as well as share their communication examples with the rest of the industry.
“I am very excited to find such excellent sustainability practices in South Africa, and to look for ways to help them learn how to better communicate sustainability to customers. The potential is enormous to convert sustainability into a meaningful customer experience, if we learn how to market it,” says Dr Font.
Fair Trade Tourism’s general manager, Kathy Bergs, adds, “FTT is excited about the opportunity that this toolkit provides FTT-certified businesses to more effectively communicate the amazing work they are doing in operating their businesses ethically and in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.”
The Keep It Real South Africa toolkit can be downloaded here: