Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Producing tools and tips for the tourism industry on local business linkages and partnerships

The purpose of the 'How To...?' series is to assist tourism companies to take advantage of opportunities to contribute more to the local economy. The intended audience is tourism companies in South or Southern Africa and beyond that would like to do more, but could benefit from practical advice on how.

Other guidelines already describe what to do, and why, for more responsible, sustainable or empowered tourism. This How To series focuses on how to do it . It provides practical tips drawing from the experiences of successes and failures.

This project ran from January to September 2005 and drew heavily on the experience of our 3 year pilot project in South Africa and from the wider South African tourism industry. A workshop bought together key players from the private sector, public sector and independent organisations to hammer out the pratical, on-the-ground advice companies need to really make a difference.

The first three focus on different types of local linkages and thus may be used by different operational staff (chefs, buyers, guest relations officers, lodge managers etc). The fourth brief gives tips on how to manage corporate change in order for any of the first three to be effective in the long-term.


Although many tourism companies make substantial charitable donations to local causes from their pre-tax profit, these are entirely separate from day to day business and are not self-sustaining. On the other hand, the local linkages outlined in the 'How To...?' series harness the core competencies of businesses to create and maintain sustainable relationships with local communities.

There are many incentives for South African tourism companies to adopt more responsible and 'pro-poor' behaviours: BEE and CSR objectives, government's procurement, legislation and scorecard, their neighbours' expectations of benefit, and their clients' growing interest in distinctive products and holiday ethics, all are reasons why tourism should increase its local economic impact. The South African Responsible Tourism Guidelines give them guidance on what they can do. However, there is little guidance on how to do it.

Companies that have started doing business differently to increase their local impact have had to learn the hard way, about challenges and strategies that work. It is time to draw on existing experience to learn lessons about implementation and share them with the rest of the industry.

Who we are

The project is a collaboration between the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Environmental Affairs, who are producing the Tools, Wilderness Safaris and Spier Holdings who are sponsors and are contributing their considerable experience, the International Financial Corporation, which is funding the work, and Business Linkages in Tourism (BLT) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) who are implementing the project.

The 'How To...? Series' draws heavily on three years experience of the programme 'Piloting Pro-Poor Tourism in the Private Sector' in which staff of BLT and ODI have been working with Wilderness Safaris, Spier, Sun City, Southern Sun, and Ker and Downey to facilitate pro-poor practice at 5 pilot sites. Examples and lessons from pilot sites are drawn out and complemented by material from other tourism operators and organisations.

Caroline Ashley, Gareth Haysom, Clive Poultney, Douglas McNab, Adrienne Harris