Make it lateral, not linear
As the mighty Zambezi River flows through six countries before reaching the sea, tourism permeates multiple industries, providing opportunities for change, growth, and collaboration.
“Creating cohesive partnerships outside of our sector makes it possible to develop products and services more sustainably. It further creates a space to actively explore fresh, new approaches to the way to do business,” says Olivia Gradidge, Marketing Manager – Travel and Tourism, RX Global.
This sentiment was recently observed in Africa Travel Week’s collaboration with Growing Paper to issue biodegradable seeded paper badges at WTM Africa 2023 and its bolt-on shows.
“Although a milestone in our efforts to reduce plastic waste during our live trade events, this one decision resulted in a massive impact. It allowed us to promote sustainable waste management while supporting food production within a local farming value chain,” she adds.
As part of ATW’s legacy in celebrating responsible tourism, their partnership with Growing Paper influenced a second collaboration with Abalimi Bezekhaya, an urban farming collective based in Khayelitsha.
“Our seed-infused paper badges used at the show were distributed throughout the ecosystem of Abalimi micro-farms for planting and harvesting,” Gradidge explains. “By doing so, we have directly supported this impactful organisation in its mission of combatting poverty by promoting locally-grown food for the community while providing employment and training to local farmers.”
She further highlights how one decision to change the material of the show badges has led to meaningful action on a grander scale, transcending their goal of improved waste management.
“It’s a lesson in how small steps can lead to big changes. But ultimately, our partnership with Growing Paper and Abalimi proves that lateral collaboration is key to creating an impactful industry that benefits more than just travellers. Our sector interconnects with multiple value chains, but it’s up to us to connect the dots.”
Gradidge urges tourism stakeholders to think of collaboration in tourism as a multilane highway going in all directions. “It’s time to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and explore new ways of ensuring more accountability and local impact. Ultimately, this is responsible tourism done right and well,” she concludes.