Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism

by Okavango Expeditions

This is our story…

Conservation of Botswana’ s natural resources, rich wildlife and cultural heritage formally began in 2002 with the adoption of the country’ s National Ecotourism Strategy –

And these principles have been pivotal in the development of the Botswana Eco-tourism Certification System. It is a voluntary, tourism industry wide program run by Botswana Tourism. This system has approximately 240 performance standards which are designed to encourage and support responsible environmental, social and cultural behavior by tourism businesses.

We see responsible-tourism as a means to alleviate conservation and poverty problems in tourism destinations hence our continued efforts to embrace this initiative.

Over the years ecotourism has proved to be a tool that can be used to achieve improved livelihoods and support conservation.

Our MD Clint Gielink has this to say “Our team at Lewis Safaris have achieved impressive results in the last few years … our safaris have 99% positive feedback”. The next step was to take on a challenge never done before by any mobile safari company in Botswana – The Botswana Tourism eco – certification programme. This prestigious certification had only previously been attained by a small percentage of our premier lodges and camps. Small changes resulted in big results. We now a better working environment for our staff our communities and the environment. This ensures a balanced experience for our guests with the knowledge that their visit has contributed positively to the country its people and the environment. A mobile safari is in essence a safari with a very light ecological footprint so many of the key requirements we had been doing for some time –  the application seemed to be the logical next step”.

Some notable changes are

  • Ensuring we created the correct working environment for all members of our team and that each person would benefit from the long term success of the company this involved introduction of significant staff benefits many an industry first
  • Tangible contributions to MAWS ( Maun Animal Welfare Society ) and the AGLOW project to assist our destitute elderly folks
  • The introduction of filtered water on safari thus eliminating approx. 9000 plastic bottles of water per year
  • Our back up trucks are being designed to ensure our recycling programme starts right there on our safari
  • Solar charging systems on the back up trucks for both fridges and guests tents
  • The introduction of eco – friendly detergents
  • The efficient recycling of used vehicles oils and batteries by accredited suppliers

A summary of the key eco tourism requirements :

  • Compliance with Relevant Laws & Regulations of Botswana
  • Ensure the company is comprehensively insured for both guests and our staff
  • Energy conservation policy
  • Preventative maintenance plans
  • Fire prevention plan
  • Water use & Conservation policy
  • Waste management policy
  • Purchasing plan ensuring as much as possible is sourced from locally owned suppliers.
  • Environmentally responsible supplies & services
  • Responsible & environmentally sensitive marketing materials
  • Minimizing negative impact on Environment produced by operations
  • Towel & linen reuse program
  • Separation & Recycling program
  • Solid waste storage
  • Use of biodegradable cleaners
  • Support to local producers
  • Support to local suppliers
  • Employee training & welfare
  • Visitor Experience, Impact & interpretation
  • Maximizing local community benefits
  • Contribution to conservation

We pride ourselves on being good at what we do. Years of experience and a commitment to giving our guests the best possible safari experience have helped us build our reputation.

We have on two separate occasions been awarded the Botswana Guides Association “ Safari Operator of the year award “ ..

But is that enough? Does that make us a good safari company? We believe that to answer this question, we need to look beyond the logo to see what really drives us.

What makes us different is our people – not just the people who work with us, but everyone whose lives are touched by what we do. Our attitudes to our team members and the communities we operate in define us as a company.

Traditional approaches to conservation have tended to focus on iconic species. We’re convinced that this is only half of the story. If people are part of the conservation problem, then they are also to be part of the conservation solution.

Our challenge to you:

  1. Humans don’t have the best track record as citizens of this planet, but it’s not too late for us to make amends. In fact, this isn’t an option. We need to get this right, and the answers begin with all of us as future travellers.
  2. Insist that your visit to every corner of the globe results in positive change for yourself, the country its people and the environment.
  3. Insist on details before you travel …request it from your Tour Operator who must request it from us the suppliers of the experience …challenge all of us !
  4. If we work together surely we can make meaningful tangible positive change to the country the people and the environment.

Thank you to BTO for leading the way ..and for awarding us a conditional eco – certification “green+” status .