Bushbaby Travel: Inspiring travel for life

Responsible tourism

Our deep-rooted company values of love, integrity, family and enrichment put responsible tourism at the heart of what we do on a day-to-day basis. We believe in embracing the values we wish to see developed, listening to locals and visitors to create the opportunities that connect top-down and grassroots efforts. Our clients tell us that they want their holidays to be beneficial to the local community and that they want to better understand the culture of the people they meet in the places they visit. Ultimately responsible tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and we think better places to live in are better places to visit.

Talk to us about Responsible Tourism - we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Our team

Bushbaby is all about family values. We might be small but our family-friendly work practices are streets ahead of many larger companies and we offer the kind of flexibility that most parents dream of. Our friendly, supportive team enjoy working from a rural office and the coffee machine is usually on, and the cupboards stocked with biscuits, so pop in to see us if you live nearby - we’d love to chat.

Our office

We are based in a lovely office in rural Surrey, amidst woodland and rolling green fields - it really is quite idyllic! Reminded by our closeness to nature, we strive to run our office in an ‘environmentally friendly’ manner and always try to minimise our paper usage by corresponding with clients by phone and email.

Our partners and suppliers

We are huge advocates of responsible tourism and believe it is crucial that local communities benefit from tourism in meaningful and sustainable ways whilst retaining their own values and culture. Many of the lodges and hotels we favour aim to empower the local people by providing employment and training. There are countless fantastic stories of responsible tourism in action - check out our blog where we sometimes feature stories on the work that is being done all around the world.

In South Africa, a key destination for us, we actively encourage our partner hotels to seek the ‘Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa’ trademark. This means you can rest assured that your money helps local communities. Current member properties include the Cape Grace in Cape Town and Wild Olive in the Winelands, Grootbos in the Overberg, Hog Hollow in the Garden Route. We also encourage clients to consider including the stunning yet malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in their itinerary. The Park was established after government research determined that wildlife-based tourism would generate the highest income for the region, once the most impoverished in South Africa. A stay at any lodge here will support the local community, but none more so than at Thakadu, which is wholly owned by the Molatedi Village.

We have just started working with Waterberry Zambezi Lodge in Zambia and will be looking at which of their fantastic educational programmes we will support in 2017. For more information see here.

Our memberships

A special mention should go to The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), which is an umbrella organisation representing more than 120 of Britain's best independent tour operators - including us! All AITO members are required to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction by concentrating on three main pillars: Choice, Quality and Service. Every company admitted to AITO is financially assessed and bound by AITO's own code of business practice which demands clear and accurate descriptions of holidays and the use of customer questionnaires for monitoring standards. Members are also encouraged to participate in raising awareness among staff, customers and suppliers of the importance of sustainable tourism. AITO believes tourism can be a force for good and should benefit the lives of those whose countries we visit.

The AITO Sustainable Tourism Committee advises, encourages and assists members on both the broader and more specific issues of sustainable tourism in order to:

Protect the Environment – its flora, fauna and landscapes
Respect local cultures – traditions, religions and built heritage
Benefit local communities – both economically and socially
Conserve natural resources – from office to destination
Minimise pollution – through noise, waste disposal and congestion

PROTECT Project in partnership with AITO and the University of Surrey

A new sustainability initiative has been introduced by AITO - the 5 year Project PROTECT (People, resources, outreach, tourism, environment, conservation, tomorrow) is led by Professor Xavier Font, of the University of Surrey. Bushbaby are pleased to be involved with the project and as a result we have developed our own pledge for 2017/18 in partnership with the lovely Waterberry Lodge in Zambia: 

Bushbaby Pledge 2017/18

As a family specialist tour operator, Bushbaby loves creating experiences that inspire lifelong memories. Our values of love, integrity, family and enrichment put responsible tourism at the heart of what we do and a natural focus for us is access to education. We work with many lodges that are owned by or which support their local community, especially youth programmes. We are promoting Waterberry Lodge in Zambia and particularly value their community schooling focus. In 2017/18, in partnership with the lodge, we will be working on a menstrual health project which will directly benefit girls in Grade 5 and above at Twabuka Commmunity School. Lack of modern sanitary wear and cultural taboos around periods have led to girls missing school. By providing 100 girls with a kit, composing eco-friendly, reusable and washable sanitary pads as well as underwear and information on puberty and self-care, the aim is to improve school attendance amongst this demographic. Each kit will cost £20 to buy and last at least 2 years. Bushbaby will help produce literature to support the roll-out and will contribute a multi-pack of underwear for each kit. We plan to visit the project and encourage clients staying at the lodge to find out more, visit the school and ‘pack to protect’ as well as sharing updates through our newsletters and website.

We love introducing new destinations to our clients and by choosing Bushbaby they in turn demonstrate support for our shared values, sustainable tourism and meaningful community engagement.

Below are a few images from the project roll-out. We'll keep you updated on the next steps!

Protect Project girls receiving their bags  Protect Project Sample Kit Protect Project girls receiving their packs

Our charitable giving

Since our launch, we have undertaken to donate a % of our pre-tax profits to Bushbaby-supported charities. For example, previously we have supported Nazareth House, Cape Town which is a Non-Profit-Organisation (NPO) with facilities in Vredehoek and Elsies River. Nazareth House aims to provide a loving, stable and secure home environment for abandoned, neglected, disabled and orphaned children as well as a last resting place for children with terminal conditions. Many are the victims of poverty and abusive homes.

We are currently partnering with several foundations who undertake charitable work very close to our heart:

 

We are working with the Kate Farrer Foundation to support their partnership with ChemU in Uganda - an education for all programme which is very close to our hearts. As well as ad hoc help, we sponsor five young people to complete their secondary education as part of this programme, at a cost of approx. £250/year. Promise is one of these young people - here she is with her father, receiving an award for her excellent performance in primary school. With our help she started secondary school in 2017.

ChemU Promise 744x800

We are supporting a secondary school project run by Born in Africa who provide educational and social support to school-aged children and young adults from disadvantaged areas in Bitou, South Africa. In 2017/18 Bushbaby Travel have committed to provide school books for 45 children at Wittedrift High, to the value of approx. £560.

 

We are also very happy to consider supporting the fundraising endeavours of our clients, so if you are taking part in an event, do get in touch!

5 things you can do to be a responsible tourist

  1. Off-set your carbon emissions for your flight and transport through an organisation such as Climate Care, who have an online emissions calculator
  2. Choose a community-owned/ managed lodge or hotel, where your patronage really counts and impacts on the local community.
  3. Pack for a purpose - we can suggest things you can squeeze into your suitcase that will be very well received in the local communities you are visiting
  4. Include a community visit in your itinerary, maybe to a charity or school - it's a wonderful opportunity for children to see a different culture and way of life (and great subject matter for that upcoming 'show and tell'!). After returning home, think about how you can support programs and organisations that are working to protect the welfare, culture, and environment of the places you’ve visited. Even if you choose not to support these groups financially, you can spread the word to other travellers about local issues, organisations, and causes, keeping the cycle of responsible tourism going.
  5. Support local communities by buying local; eat local food and drink local brands and brews. Use public transport, hire a bike, or walk when it’s convenient — you’ll meet local people and get to know the place much better. When it’s time to pick up a few souvenirs, head to the shops of traditional artisans for locally made products. You’ll be helping to keep traditional crafts alive, while also supporting small, independent business owners and artists.

 

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