Each month we shine the light on an Event Greening Forum member who prioritises sustainability in their work. This month we are putting David Frost, the CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), in the spotlight.
Q. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SOUTHERN AFRICA TOURISM SERVICES ASSOCIATION (SATSA) AND WHAT IT DOES?
The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is a non-profit, member-driven association representing the region’s inbound tourism private sector. It was established in 1969 as the mark of credible tourism in Southern Africa.
SATSA currently represents over 1,200 companies in all facets of the inbound travel sector. SATSA members offer a wide range of products and services. The appearance of the SATSA logo is a sign of quality and commitment to service excellence and offers peace of mind and recourse for consumers.
Sustainability is important to SATSA and is included on our national agenda.
Q. WHAT DOES ‘SUSTAINABLE TOURISM’ MEAN TO YOU?
Sustainability is the future of our industry. The South African tourism industry consists of true thought-leaders when it comes to sustainability.
We see three kinds of sustainable tourism:
‘Normal’ sustainability, as most people understand it. We are monitoring our water consumption, our electricity, and our waste. Tourism establishments around South Africa are investing in solar solutions, they are reducing water usage, and recycling plastic and paper. The ‘no more straws’ initiative moved swiftly around South Africa, with everyone taking part immediately, driving change.
Responsible tourism is another important pillar under sustainability. Our members are very aware when it comes to paying fair wages, implementing gender equality, provident funds, supporting schooling, and medical aid. These initiatives are something travellers often don’t even see, as they happen behind the scenes.
Progressive Tourism sustainability. Here, the tourism industry gets actively involved in the community. Our members look at how they can support the community by building housing, creating sports fields, etc. We look after our communities, and they in turn help us ensure our natural resources, our wildlife, and our protected areas are preserved. The more local communities realize the importance of tourism in their area, the more willing and equipped they are to protect their surrounding environment.
Progressive Tourism sustainability is where the tourism industry gets actively involved in the community.
Q. HOW IS SATSA HELPING TO CREATE TOURISM WHICH SUPPORTS LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND CONSERVES THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA?
Sustainability is important to SATSA and is included on our national agenda. It features prominently at our conference, and our national and regional meetings, with a view to connecting members and inspiring them to learn best practice sustainable tourism practices from each other and from international case studies.
To this end, SATSA and South African Tourism (SA Tourism) launched an initiative to offset the carbon emissions that are caused by tourists coming to South Africa. This sees SATSA members and interested parties’ plant Spekboom, which is a miracle plant that has incredible carbon emission offsetting properties. We are determined to position South Africa as the place for sustainability. (Click here to read more about this project.)
Similarly, SATSA is leading the way in developing sustainable guidelines for animal interaction. While there are global guidelines in place, the association feels it is important to design a framework that speaks to South Africa’s economic, social, and ecological circumstances. As such, we have embarked on an exhaustive, consultative process which will see guidelines on animal interactions in the tourism sector being issued imminently.
Our tourism industry is reliant on the development and knowledge expansion of the SME sector. Growing SME businesses is how we introduce diversity and variety into our sector, which helps ensure we keep offering our visitors the selection of unique tourism products and services they seek, while simultaneously uplifting disadvantaged communities from the cycle of poverty.
Q. HOW ARE YOU SUPPORTING SMALL AND EMERGING BUSINESSES?
For SATSA, the inclusive growth of the tourism sector is critically important. Our tourism industry is reliant on the development and knowledge expansion of the SME sector. Growing SME businesses is how we introduce diversity and variety into our sector, which helps ensure we keep offering our visitors the selection of unique tourism products and services they seek, while simultaneously uplifting disadvantaged communities from the cycle of poverty.
The SATSA conference is crucial to exposing emerging businesses to the larger tourism industry and building linkages between SMEs and bigger tour operators. We also help SMEs in South Africa become market ready and access the tourism value chain through training, mentorship and specific market access projects. In the past four years three of these market access projects have been implemented: The Gauteng SME Tourism Indaba (2016), The National Hidden Gems project with South African Tourism (2017), and the Limpopo High Flyers (2018). These projects resulted in a total of 419 black-owned SMEs receiving training, 110 being mentored, and 162 given market access.
Our emerging members tell us that SATSA’s strengths lie in giving them credibility and therefore helping them build relationships with larger DMCs and government.
Other benefits for members include networking opportunities, information sharing and lobbying on their behalf for positive change to business-critical challenges.
The future of tourism in South Africa is an inclusive one – one that focuses on sustainability by including our communities in tourism so that together we may ensure the future of our culture, the environment, and the pristine natural areas which we want to share with travellers who visit.
Q. WHAT IS IN THE FUTURE FOR TOURISM IN SOUTH AFRICA?
We are a world in one country, that cares deeply about our communities and our environment. The future of tourism in South Africa is an inclusive one – one that focuses on sustainability by including our communities in tourism so that together we may ensure the future of our culture, the environment, and the pristine natural areas which we want to share with travellers who visit.