Sustainable tourism is a concept which is increasingly growing in importance. Honeyguide has already found inspiration from it. This Tanzanian NGO organises trips for tourists from around the world, and to this end, it received support from the Belgian Development Cooperation. In the context of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we focus on what Honeyguide has to offer.
For Honeyguide, the three essential pillars of sustainable tourism are economy, culture and environment.
Damian Bell, manager at Honeyguide, sums up the numerous activities for tourists one by one: 'All of our tourist attractions are situated in the Tanzanian regions of Arusha, Randilen, Enduimet, Makame and Manyara Ranch. Tourists can take part in a whole range of activities and experiences in the wild nature. We also offer cultural activities, in addition to activities such as cycling, camping, trekking, safaris, and guided tours. The accommodation - comfortably appointed tents and chalets – also allow tourists to enjoy nature as much as possible.
Economy, culture and environment
For Honeyguide, the three essential pillars of sustainable tourism are economy, culture and environment. The NGO ensures that tourism provides financial benefits for the Tanzanian community. For example, Honeyguide ensures that there are a lot of jobs for the population living in tourist areas. The local population is also involved in defining sustainable solutions for flora and fauna.
In the area of culture, the NGO maintains close links with the Tanzanian community in order to continue to work together with them in the future.
The local population especially benefits from this teamwork, which is based on mutual respect.
From an ecological perspective, Honeyguide encourages both the local population and tourists to protect the precious natural resources and the various native animal species. Damian Bell: 'We explain to tourists that environmental preservation is absolutely essential for the well-being of our population, and for future generations'. The members of Honeyguide constantly remind the population that tourism is an important asset for Tanzania. They raise awareness among the population regarding the importance of environmental preservation. Of course nature is one of the reasons why tourists travel to this beautiful country.
Trade for Development Centre
With support from the Trade for Development Centre, a programme of the Belgian Development Cooperation, Honeyguide was able to develop infrastructure. Among other things, the subsidies were used to build campsites, develop projects relating to local heritage such as excursions to water wells, and organise various kinds of treks, safaris, camps in wild nature, etc. In addition, resources also went towards building and improving the website, tourist navigation maps and information boards for travelling around Tanzania. Finally, the organisation invested in the demarcation of cycle routes and new training in tourist management.
Honeyguide is currently improving its complete infrastructure and is developing new tourist products. The foundation also organises training courses on sustainable tourism for the local population. As a result, the population can handle its tourism business plan and all marketing issues more effectively. Finally, the population must be able to use sustainable tourism to give form to its own future, without damaging the environment. All of these initiatives have helped to increase the number of tourists in Tanzania, explains Damian Bell.
The population must be able to use sustainable tourism to give form to its own future, without damaging the environment.
Tourists' opinions count
'We are delighted with the tourist interest in our beautiful regions. But we would like to better align our services and experiences with the wishes of the tourists who come from far and wide to visit our country. Wherever tourists spend the night, they can complete a questionnaire if they wish. We take their opinions into account in order to improve the quality of our infrastructure to the extent possible', explains Damian Bell.