Programme Director : Niki Glen

The Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP) has achieved so much since it was officially established in December 2012. We have been able to make inroads across many spectrums of the industry, thanks to the substance that our patrons, partners, colleagues and friends have added.  We will be entering 2014 with a good foundation and awareness amongst a critical mass of small tourism businesses that “working together” is the key to transformation of the small tourism sector.  And that this is needed for it to take its rightful place alongside big business.

The debate as to whether sustainable tourism is something to do on top of “business as usual” is continuing.  We simply view sustainable tourism, as “a way of doing business that ensures tourism continues to exist and grow within the environmental, social and cultural context”.

This does, however, imply a paradigm shifts and significant change to the way we do things.  Financial bottom line can no longer be the only measure of success. One of my favourite quotes for 2013, by  Robert Gutman,  was “Every profession bears the responsibility to understand the circumstances that enable its existence.”


The Asian saying “tourism is like a fire: you can cook your dinner on it, but if you are not careful it will burn your house down” may be a bit of a cliché but it is the reality that we are faced with. It may seem a daunting task though, especially with the world population growing faster than ever, and more and more people demanding access to water, energy and other resources. The only way we can address the issues is to take one step at a time and work with each other to create lasting impact.

There are approximately 30,000 small accommodation establishments in South Africa. The potential impact of even small changes is astonishing. Imagine that each of these businesses saves just 10 litres of water each day (e.g. by installing dual-flush ion toilets). That is close to 110 million litres of water in a year. Or what if they increased their spend in the local economy by R 150 per day (e.g. buying eggs, milk and bread from a local supplier)? That’s an injection of R 1.6 billion in the local economy in a year.

If you have not yet made those “transactional changes”, 2014 will be the year to do so.  In the meantime, and in parallel, we need to start making “transformational” changes, the changes that require us to think differently, visualize what will happen if we carry on doing the same things, questioning why we are in tourism, and then make decisions to


STPP is a ground-breaking initiative that facilitates transformation towards sustainable practices.  By building collaborative partnerships the STPP helps small tourism businesses with the “why to” and the “how to”.  By working with the STPP, you are able to effect change within your own business as well as within the entire tourism supply chain, including stakeholders such as other tourism businesses, government, corporate product and service providers, communities and tourists.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the STPP team – Caroline Ungersbock, Louis Nel, Greg Turner, Heidi van der Watt and Katarina Mancama for all your efforts, hard work, dedication and most of all, your humour. While we are having many successes, we are also having a lot of fun.  I am really looking forward to 2014 and putting in place all of the “hugenesses” that are “almost there”.



  • During the past 12 months, we have
  • Reached close to 200,000 people through our various awareness and media campaigns;
  • Facilitated Sustainable Tourism Educational workshops for 400 people in 20 towns across South Africa;
  • Organized and hosted the Sustainability Week 2013 Seminar on Responsible Tourism;
  • Received Television coverage from SABC2 Growing Tomorrow, including a short documentary on our workshop in Phuthaditcjaba;
  • Organized and hosted the Industry Workshop that identified the main barriers to sustainable tourism implementation in South Africa;
  • Launched the Responsible and  Sustainable Tourism Handbook vol 1 (distribution 80,000) available electronically at www.sustainable;
  • Partnered with Mxit to mainstream sustainable tourism amongst the youth market;
  • Partnered with Nedbank’s Fair Share Programme, which will assist us to mainstream sustainable tourism across South Africa;
  • Partnered with the Magaliesburg Development Initiative and Ranyaka to help Magaliesburg become a sustainable town;
  • Formed collaborative partnerships with Adopt-A-Town (Clem Sunter and Elna Jennings) and Ranyaka to create a replicable model for Sustainable Towns;
  • Established strategic partnerships with a multitude of product and service providers – more detail will be available once our new website is up and running;
  • Established ourselves as a MyVillage Beneficiary (final admin process in progress);
  • Appointment Heidi van der  Watt, an international authority in responsible / sustainable tourism, to our board;
  • Facilitated Sustainable Tourism workshops for Gauteng Tourism Authority;
  • Ran a number of surveys, which have enabled us to provide meaningful input into regulatory and governance frameworks;
  • Established a comprehensive energy programme, details of which will be revealed early in 2014.



  • In the coming 12 months, we plan to build on the relationships and programmes that we have conceptualized and started implementing.  We are looking forward to, amongst others:
  • Facilitate further learning in the 20 towns already visited – Energy Programme, Water Programme, Staff Green Training, Community Engagement and town specific needs;
  • Introduce the basic awareness workshop in at least 15 new towns;
  • Launch Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 2 with Alive2Green;
  • Launch our new website, where will be able to share information and interact with our partners and programme participants;
  • Launch our revised Mxit platform, where we will interact with youth in tourism and create significant value for stakeholders;
  • Continue with our research and data collection activities, so that we can build better solutions for small tourism businesses;
  • Commence implementation of the tourism related work streams of the Magaliesburg  Development Initiative and announce new towns where this model will be replicated;
  • Announce at least 3 significant long-term partnerships to complement our year old partnerships with Nedbank and Alive2Green;
  • Organize and host Sustainability Week Seminar on Responsible Tourism.



We would like to encourage everyone to attend workshops, roadshows, talks and seminars on Sustainable / Responsible tourism during 2014.  While the STPP will be running their own events and events in partnership with other organizations, there are a number of non-STPP events as well.  We will post the ones we know of and that we believe will benefit tourism businesses and stakeholders on our website.  Please regularly visit our website or further detail, or send us a note if you would like to receive information specific to your town / area / region.

Leave a Reply