There is a growing trend amongst tourists from western nations to visit remote destinations and see unique landscapes, which are very often home to some of the poorest people on this planet. The elements of these destinations that attract tourists are often those that are most at risk of damage from tourism. The ‘unique landscapes’ that interest visitors tend to be, by their very nature, fragile ecosystems that cannot support large numbers of tourists. The ‘remote destinations’ are often populated by indigenous cultures, whose customs and traditions may be vulnerable to the over-bearing western culture of tourists.
BAOBAB Travel believes that it is the responsibility of tour operators to put in place strict codes of conduct to minimise the potential for these negative effects. Furthermore, if managed appropriately, we believe that tourism has an enormous capacity to bring benefits to these destinations by bringing much needed economic growth and supporting development and conservation efforts.
We have several Fair Trade Tourism certified travel packages in South Africa and a clear a Responsible Travel Policy that outlines the codes of conduct to which we are committed to operate. This policy ensures that we offer a form of sustainable tourism that benefits host communities economically and is sensitive to indigenous cultures and the environment. We endeavour to select operating partners, suppliers and properties with a shared philosophy in fair and responsible travel.
FAIR TRADE TOURISM
The Fair Trade Tourism initiative allows ethical travelers to extend their purchasing decisions beyond everyday products, such as coffee, tea and fruit, and to include holidays that guarantee a better life for the people of South Africa.
This initiative provides a framework for fair and sustainable development in tourism. It has clear standards of supporting disadvantaged producers and staff along the whole supply chain, with fair trading standards and prices, and a fair trade premium for social development in South Africa. Along the lines of fair trade in products, Fair Trade Tourism is aimed at improving the living conditions of disadvantaged small entrepreneurs and employees in tourism, at securing their livelihoods, and at enabling them to live in dignity.
BAOBAB Travel has four Fair Trade Tourism certified South Africa travel packages. As part of this process we, as a company, have been fully audited to prove our commitment to Fair Trade not only through trading & labour standards, but also through our Procurement and Economic, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Environmental Policies. This new certification gives BAOBAB Travel the opportunity to realise forms of travel that are economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable. We now proudly display the official Fair Trade Tourism mark, which is endorsed by Fairtrade International (FLO), Transfair Germany, and South Africa Tourism.
THE TOURISM CHILD PROTECTION CODE
As part of our Fair Trade in Tourism certification, BAOBAB Travel has signed the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct. The Code aims to provide increased protection to children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. It is based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. By signing The Code, we commit ourselves to implement measures into our operations to pro-actively protect children from sex tourism.
Just in South Africa, at least 40,000 children are exploited as child prostitutes each year and more than 250,000 children with an average age of 13 live on the streets. The number of trafficked and exploited children in South Africa is not known, however, statistics show that every year 1,500 children under the age of 18 go missing. Although South Africa is not a renowned child sex tourism or trafficking destination, certain realities, such as a growing tourism industry, create the perfect environment for the exploitation of children.