05 November 2012

Travelling on Fair Ground

Written by Published in Eco Travel

Fair Trade products such as coffee, chocolate and fruit have been available for nearly 50 years, but it has only been in the last decade or so that the concept has been extended to tourism. Johannesburg is pioneering this innovative type of tourism

In Fair Trade Tourism you are buying an experience, not just a product. You will see, touch, smell and feel the atmosphere of the places you are visiting, seeing for yourself the conditions people work in and, to some extent, the difference the Fair Trade certification is making. This brings a whole new dimension to the concept, far beyond just imagining the people who grew the bananas you just bought at the supermarket.

The Fair Trade Tourism SA (FTTSA) certification is based around six principles; fair share, democracy, respect, reliability, transparency and sustainability. Together these values create participative tourism operations committed to fair distribution of benefits with reverence for human rights, local culture and the environment. Ultimately this ensures that the bottom line extends from the economic into the social and environmental spheres.

FairTrade Tourism SA logoResponding to an increased demand for responsible tourism opportunities, FTTSA is now looking at scale up their efforts into other African regions, hoping to extend and stimulate the development of fair trade tourism businesses. These new regions including Botswana, Swaziland and Tanzania. Katarina Mancama, FTTSA Marketing Manager, told Sublime: ‘To date, our biggest achievement is definitely securing funding to expand the project into other regions. This is the next step towards mainstreaming Fair and Comunity Trade Tourism.’

However, as for any non-profit, getting funding for the scheme is an ongoing struggle. Katarina said: ‘Our biggest challenge has historically been a lack of resources. We are donor funded, and only generate 5% of our own income through the certification programme. In order to become more viable, we need to expand the number of certified businesses.’

In Johannesburg an up and coming fair and community trade destination, The Peech Hotel run by owner James Peech, is a FTTSA certified business with a strong commitment to both the environment and the local community. It is stylish, fresh, sophisticated and eco-friendly, creating a carbon-neutral experience for guests and staff alike. Amongst other initiatives, water is filtered on-site and distributed in reusable glass bottles and the hotel is surrounded by a sumptuous garden, watered with rain and grey water from baths and showers.

The hotel works closely with Lucy Slaviero, CEO of Little Eden children’s home, donating household items and an incentive scheme for top performers, offering free stays at the hotel. Guests are also encouraged to support the charity voluntarily by donating a small amount per night they stay on the promise that the hotel matches the donation. Transparency is achieved by progress reports on their website.

With the tourism industry seeing increased interest by customers in how their travel impacts on host communities and environments, initiatives like FTTSA offers a way for people to avoid the potential pitfalls of greenwashing and book holidays that are mutually beneficial to them and the locals of the places they visit.


City of Johannesburg 

Joburg has a calendar jam-paked with special lifestyle events, festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Sublime magazine recommends:

Joburg Fashion Week (March)
Joy of Jazz (August)
SA Fashion Week (September)

To find out more visit


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