What is ‘sustainable tourism’?

One question often asked within the industry and by guests is ‘what is sustainable tourism?’  Different organisations define this differently, and not always very succinctly, but they all agree that sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.

This is exactly what we are doing at The Old Boma.  The way we run and manage the hotel alongside our Trade Aid training programme ensures we consider any impact we may have on the local vicinity.  We’ve been doing this since Trade Aid was established as a charity nearly 20 years ago, long before ‘sustainable tourism’ became a trendy buzz word!

Environment
One of our biggest achievements concerning the local environment has been the creation of the ‘Mikindani Conservation Area’.  After many years of lobbying local Government we are now working in collaboration with the Mtwara-Mikidani Municipality and together we are seeking national recognition from the Division of Antiquities, within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.  The conservation area covers nearly 12 hectares within the historic town of Mikindani and will ensure that this area is protected from development pressures and that buildings of historic and architectural significance are maintained using appropriate materials and methods.

Society
Although the town used to be a trading port in colonial times, it has been a simple fishing village since the late 1940’s when industry moved to nearby Mtawara, so employment and business opportunities are limited.  Trade Aid provides vocational education, training and employment within the local community with a focus on hospitality. Each year it selects 60 local students to attend it’s vocational training course based at the hotel and the most successful students are then given further opportunities within the hospitality industry.  Trade Aid also has many other projects that it runs within the local community including a tree nursery, Mikindani Eco Kids,  sponsorship of gifted students and water projects that bring clean fresh water to remote villages.

Economy
Trade Aid aims to create sustainable employment by providing opportunities for work and encouraging enterprise in the local area. Ever since it employed local builders and skilled craftsmen in the renovation of the Old Boma it has sought the required skills and expertise from within the local community.  The hotel employs approximately 40 members of staff, all of whom are Tanzanian, and hotel guests provide additional benefits to the local economy via their excursions and activities, and visits to local markets, cafes, bars, etc.   We support a wide range of local professionals from plumbers, farmers and growers, fishermen and artists, to carpenters, mechanics, wholesalers and insurance brokers.  We’re grateful for their expertise and assistance in keeping The Old Boma a beautiful place to visit.

There is only one area within sustainable tourism in which we feel there is room for improvement, and that is the aspect of travel itself, but there are responsible options available and our tree nursery not only hopes to help with local soil erosion but also carbon dioxide levels associated with air and road travel.