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Pro-poor Tourism Pilots in Southern Africa

Hero image description: Elephants at tourist lodge Image credit:Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve Image license:Creative Commons

The aim of this joint project with Mboza Tourism Projects was to assist Southern African tourism enterprises to expand their understanding and use of Pro-Poor Tourism (PPT) strategies. The project focused on identifying and implementing strategies that benefit local people or enterprises and make business sense to the company.

PPT Strategies
The PPT strategies implemented with industry partners involve three forms of local business linkage:

  • Increasing sourcing of goods and services from the local economy.
  • Stimulating local cultural and heritage enterprises.
  • Establishing partnerships with communities and neighbours.

A set of briefs were produced to share practical international examples of pro poor actions with programme partners and others. The eight briefs cover a diverse range of topics from branding to supply chains and tourism-agriculture linkages.

Impacts
The impacts of PPT facilitation on the companies have been of two types:

  • Changes in company approach, strategy or plans – developing a new way of doing business.
  • Progress in actual implementation of linkages with local people - creating or strengthening enterprises, local employment or other forms of community linkage.

The impacts on the communities have also been of two types:

  • Financial benefits such as wages, new jobs, enterprise earnings.
  • Non financial benefits that range from new skills training to crime reduction, encouraging unionisation and provision of essential new equipment.

The programme has demonstrated that PPT can deliver both business benefits for companies and local economic and other benefits for communities. The business cases for adopting a PPT approach vary between sites. Business benefits of PPT include:

  • 'Social licence to operate'.
  • Enhanced brand.
  • Diversification of products for guests.
  • Government procurement, preferred partner, recognition.
  • Awards, publicity and marketing.
  • Enhanced corporate governance and staff morale.

Challenges and strategies for companies investing in linkages
Doing business differently and developing local business linkages is not easy. The experience of the PPT Pilots demonstrates eight key challenges, and concomitant tips, for implementation.

  • A champion and driver of the process is essential.
  • Considerable amount of time input is needed.
  • Beyond the champion, wider buy-in across staff and management is needed.
  • Learn by doing : get practical and get going, and adapt from there.
  • The process is not just about changing company practice, but also changing attitudes to communities and local entrepreneurs.
  • A slow pace must be accepted, and expectations managed .
  • Finding the right partners in the community is key.
  • Success lies in finding local linkages that help address current drivers of change in the company and complement core business concerns .
  • Partnership with others will be needed.

Industry Partners
The programme involved collaboration with five industry partners:

  • Southern Sun
  • Sun City
  • Wilderness Safaris
  • Spier and
  • Ker & Downey, Tanzania

The programme had the backing from leading industry and governmental tourism organisations in Southern Africa. British Airways was also supported the programme.

Caroline Ashley, Clive Poultney
  1. Pro-poor tourism facilitation format

    Working papers