Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) has been given an early Christmas present with the signing of a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with Eco Awards Namibia. The agreement allows Eco Awards Namibia’s “Five Desert Flower” recipient businesses to be eligible for marketing under the Fair Trade Holiday brand.
The MRA is also just recognition for the hard work and efforts made by Eco Awards Namibia to bring together private sector stakeholders and government institutions to promote and facilitate sustainable tourism in this richly diverse and beautiful country under the banner of the Eco Awards Namibia Alliance.
Under the terms of the MRA, Fair Trade Tourism’s approved travel trade partners and tour operators can now incorporate Eco Awards Namibia’s Five Desert Flower tourism products in their product listings, as well as including them in Fair Trade Holidays – holiday packages that represent global best practice in responsible tourism.
The Five Desert Flower recipients include some of the leading names in Namibian tourism, such as Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namib Desert Lodge, Etosha Safari Camp and Safari Lodge and tour operator Ultimate Safaris.
Fair Trade Tourism is a leading Southern African non-profit organisation promoting responsible tourism development. It grows awareness about responsible tourism to travellers, assists tourism businesses to operate more sustainably and facilitates a globally recognised certification programme. In 2011 its certification standard became the first in Africa to be recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
The organisation’s steady expansion into Africa is positioning it at the forefront of the sub-continent’s sustainable, responsible tourism efforts, showing both travel trade partners and independent travellers in key source markets that it is now possible to travel the “Fair Trade way” through direct product certification in Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa, as well as through mutual recognition partnerships in Seychelles, Tanzania and now Namibia.
“We are delighted to welcome Eco Awards Namibia as one of our mutually recognised partners,” says Fair Trade Tourism managing director Nivashnee Naidoo. “The addition of the Five Desert Flower businesses to Fair Trade Holiday packages is exciting for all of our approved tour operators marketing these sustainable, responsible holidays.”
Eco Awards Namibia is a mark of distinction for accommodation establishments that are planned and managed according to eco-friendly principles. The programme promotes the selective and careful use of resources, promoting reducing and reusing. In the process an establishment can improve its profitability, often with very little expenditure.
The awarding of an Eco Awards Namibia Desert Flower certificate is a sign that the establishment keeps to a standard of environmental care and implements sustainable practices for the future of the immediate environment, the company and the people.
“Namibia is by default a Sustainable Tourism Destination and Eco Awards Namibia generally aims to increase awareness in this regard,” says the organisation’s programme co-ordinator Hazel Milne. “Namibia is also a country populated by pioneers in the field of sustainable tourism. Eco Awards Namibia salutes these individuals, and through this MRA, we hope our stories will reach a wider audience.
“This MRA is the result of long-standing relationships between people from both organisations and has been developed on a solid basis of trust, understanding and goodwill from both sides. I believe this milestone event will lead to mutual benefits for both parties – a sure win-win situation!”
The signing of the MRA between Fair Trade Tourism and Eco Awards Namibia has already been greeted with enthusiasm from tour operators approved to market Fair Trade Holidays. “It’s fantastic news,” says Henko Wentholt, of Abang Africa Travel, based in Cape Town, who works extensively with approved European outbound operators such as Tui Netherlands and German specialist operator Accept Reisen. “We will definitely use these lodges in our Namibia offerings. In fact, we are already using eight of them!”