Sustainable tourism certification in the African hotel sector: Journal paper released

The purpose of this paper is to review the current status of certification and certified hotels on the African continent, and to discuss the implications for mainstreaming sustainable tourism on the continent.

Design/methodology/approach – The research design focused on a literature review and an online survey. The survey was used to consult stakeholders on options for incentives, and future interventions, which was distributed to 80 stakeholders from the government, certification bodies, intergovernmental agencies and NGOs. The survey resulted in 41 complete responses from 18 countries.

Findings – The study identified nine African certification programs, and nine international certification programs operating in Africa. Collectively, the African and international certification programs have certified at least 715 accommodation facilities in 19 African countries, against their environmental, social and economic criteria. So only a very small proportion of all hotels in Africa have been certified (certainly less than 3.4 per cent) and that these are patchily distributed across the continent. A number of incentives have been used in Africa, including marketing and promotion; interest free loans for new technologies; preferential inclusion in tour itineraries; free or discounted application processes; and technical support. Consultees suggested that hotels were generally motivated to seek certification to: promote their achievements to environmentally conscious clients and avoid negative criticism, and save money by conserving resources. However, hotels do not understand the financial benefits of sustainable practices.

Research limitations/implications – Research limitations include the modest sample size. For the purposes of this research, there was a greater emphasis in targeting a modest number of key respondents who could provide expert opinions on the topic, rather than a more extensive sample size of lower quality.

Practical implications – Practical implications include recommendations of incentives and approaches to mainstream tourism certification in Africa. These include promoting programmes and their returns on investment more broadly, promoting market advantage for certified accommodation (i.e. preferential marketing or concession terms) and the value of integrating sustainability criteria into national and regional quality-rating standards.

Originality/value – This is the first study of its kind to analyse certification on the African continent, which was presented at the Climate Change Summit (COP22) in Morocco in 2016 and the BEST EN Think Tank XVII in June 2017.


Citation: Spenceley, A. (2018) “Sustainable tourism certification in the African hotel sector”, Tourism Review, https://

Access the full paper here 


Private Sector Tourism in Conservation in Africa – now in press

Book Cover FINAL

Our new book has been submitted to CABI for publication, featuring 32 case studies from 12 sub-saharan countries,

Country Lodge/ camp Private Sector Stakeholder/ Company


Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura Wilderness Safaris
Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Wilderness Safaris
Ethiopia Bale Mountain Lodge Jember Ltd
Simien Lodge Nick Crane
Kenya Satao Elerai Satao Elerai Ltd
Namibia Damaraland Camp Wilderness Safaris
Doro Nawas Camp Wilderness Safaris
Serra Cafema Wilderness Safaris
Wolwedans NamibRand Nature Reserve
Malawi Mkulumadzi Lodge Robin Pope Safaris
Thawale Lodge Sunbird
Mozambique Anvil Bay Chemucane Lodge Chemucane Tourism Company (CTC)
Covane Community Lodge Scholtz Consutoria e servicos Lda
Ndzou Camp Eco-Micaia Lda.
Nkwichi Lodge Nkwichi Lodge
Rwanda Bisate Lodge Wilderness Safaris
Ruzizi Tented Camp Akagera Management Company
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Governor’s Camps
South Africa Pafuri Camp Return Africa
Ngala Main Camp and Ngala Tented Camp &Beyond
Singita Lebombo Singita
Phinda lodges &Beyond
Rocktail Camp Wilderness Safaris
!Xaus Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Witieshoek Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Tanzania Chumbe Island Chumbe Island Coral Park Limited (CHICOP)
Zambia King Lewanika Lodge Norman Carr Safaris
Zimbabwe Davison’s Camp; Little Makalolo; Linkwasha (Hwange camps) Wilderness Safaris


Tourism in Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals

The International Conference on Digitalisation and Sustainable Tourism was held in Mauritius from 23-24 May. Among the speakers was Dr Anna Spenceley, who spoke about Tourism in African and the Sustainable Development Goals.

An illustration of the types of case studies shared are provided below. To access the full presentation – click here.

SDG 15

The presentation drew several case studies from the forthcoming book by Sue Snyman and Anna Spenceley on “Private Sector Tourism in Conservation Areas in Africa” and a forthcoming book chapter by Anna Spenceley and Andrew Rylance on “The contribution of tourism to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Revenue sharing from tourism in terrestrial African protected areas

Journal of Sustainable Tourism,


JOST cover pageAbstract

A prerequisite for the sustainability of protected areas in Africa is the meaningful inclusion of local populations in conservation and tourism. This has been demonstrated in numerous destinations where communities receive benefits from tourism in terrestrial protected areas, they are more inclined to view it positively and conserve natural resources. This paper presents a review of revenue-sharing literature, and also an analysis of the evidence of quantified benefits accrued by local communities in Africa through institutional arrangements to share revenue or finance development projects by (1) protected areas, and (2) tourism enterprises. The review highlights the challenges of revenue sharing as well as four key components of successful revenue-sharing systems: (1) economic benefits must be clearly identified and communicated, (2) benefits are appropriate to the scale of threats to biodiversity, (3) involvement of communities in decision-making on the structure and process of the distribution system, and also how the revenues are used and (4) sufficient regulatory and institutional support is necessary to develop clear objectives, aims, goals and responsibilities. This paper constitutes the first multi-country, multi-scheme analysis of revenue sharing in terrestrial African protected areas.


50 free e-prints are available by clicking here

What is overtourism in protected areas and what can we do about it?


Rising visitor use levels in tourism destinations over the last several years have caught residents and managers off-guard, leading to potentially significant social and biophysical impacts. This condition has been termed “overtourism”, but has been previously known by other terms such as “over use” and “over crowded.” Concern about this situation has a long history in protected area management. Regardless of the term, the concerns about impacts have legitimate foundations. Resolving this problem will require a better understanding of it first, before proposing simplified solutions.

As a collaboration between the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist GroupEcotourism GenuinoPUP Global Heritage Consortium and the 10 YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme, a webinar was held on 3 November 2017 on the topic of ‘Overtourism in protected areas’. The webinar  was designed to build awareness of the challenges of high levels of visitor use in protected areas, review what has lead to this challenge, and to suggest a way forward.

Moderator: Dr. Anna Spenceley (IUCN WCPA TAPAS Group), Mr. Allan Rhodes Espinoza (Ecoturismo Genuino)

Speakers: Mr. Jon Kohl (PUP Global Heritage Consortium), Dr. Stephen McCool (University of Montana)

Participants: 131 (77 women, 54 men)

Final agenda: Conference on Sustainable Tourism in SIDS – 22-24 November, Seychelles

22-24 November 2017 (Conference), 25-26 November 2017 (Field visits)

SIDS_Conference_PosterIn the framework of the 2017 UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development this conference wishes to provide a platform for tourism professionals, academics and practitioners from other SIDS and the region to discuss an integrated practical approach to sustain-able tourism in SIDS. For this event, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF), and the University of Seychelles (Department of Tourism and Cultural Heritage) partnered up with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS group), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Paris Tourism Sorbonne Institute of Research and Higher Education in Tourism (IREST), to organize a regional conference on sustainable tourism in SIDS, which will combine academic tourism re-search with practical best practice examples. The conference aims at connecting the various stakeholders working and researching the environmental and socio-cultural development of the tourism industry, for constructive discussions and networking.


Register here


Wednesday 22 November 2017

15:00-18:00 Registrations, Meet & Greet, UniSey campus, Anse Royale

Day 1: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time Activity Presenter/facilitator
Opening of the conference
8.00 – 8.30 Official opening and welcome  Bernice Elizabeth
Ministerial Opening Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Mr  Dogley

Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr Loustau-Lalanne

Aim and objectives of the meeting, overview of participants, agenda and field visits Diana Koerner
Session 1: Keynote presentations: (F) Bernice Elizabeth
8.30 – 9.00 Keynote: A global view of sustainable tourism Randy Durband
9.00 – 9.30 Keynote: Sustainable tourism in protected areas Dr. Anna Spenceley
9.30 – 10.00 Keynote: Social responsibility and sustainable tourism in SIDS Dr. Madina Regnault
10.00 – 10.30 Tea/coffee
Session 2: Evaluation of financial and economic benefits of tourism in protected areas (F) Kelly Hoareau
10.30 – 10.45 Tourism-induced contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals: insights from Jozani – Chwaka Bay National Park and Biosphere Reserve, Zanzibar/Tanzania Florian Carius (Germany)
10.45 – 11.00 Manta Rays, Communities and Tourism: Yap’s manta sanctuary as a partnership experiment José Truda Palazzo (Micronesia)
11.00 – 11.15 Can sustainable tourism create and manage Marine Parks? Sergio Chiarandini (Tanzania)
11.15 – 11.30 The reality of providing communities with socio-economic benefits in a coastal protected area in South Africa Prof. Felicité A. Fairer-Wessels (South Africa)
11.30 – 11.45 Q&A
11.45 – 12.30 Plenary debate: What are the best ways of measuring financial and economic benefits of tourism in protected areas? (F) Kelly Hoareau
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch
Session 3: Destination management and the application of standards and certification tools for protected areas (F) Randy Durband
1.30 – 1.45 Tourism certification in Africa Dr. Anna Spenceley (Seychelles)
1.45 – 2.00 Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) Janice Bristol (Seychelles)
2.00 – 2.15 Using private-public partnerships to develop sustainable agro-tourism: the Sao Tomé and Principe Michele Maccari (Sao Tomé ad Príncipe)
2.15 – 2.30 Oceans without Borders: &Beyond’s pioneering Marine conservation initiative. Prof. Kevin Mearns (South Africa)
2.30-2.40 Q&A
2.40 – 3.00 Plenary debate: Certification and standards – what is the return on investment for tour operators and destinations? (F) Randy Durband
3.00 – 3.30 Tea/coffee
Session 4: Impacts on biodiversity of protected area tourism (F) Dr Ashton Berry
3.30 – 3.45 Impacts of voluntourism in the Cap Ternay Marine Park Josie Woodgate (Seychelles)
3.45 – 4.00 Sustaining healthy corals in Tumon Bay Marine Preserve: How is Guam’s tourism epicenter coping with climate change? Dr. Laurie J. Raymundo (Guam)
4.00 – 4.15 Impacts of human use on coral health in the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve, Guam Whitney C. Hoot (Guam)
4.15 – 4.30 Hotel establishment and Protected Area Management: Opportunities and potential Hervé Atayi (UK)
4.30 – 4.45 Q&A
4.45 Closure of Day 1


Day 2: Friday 24 November 2017

Time Activity Presenter/facilitator
Opening of Day 2
8.00 – 8.30 Overview of Day 1
Agenda for Day 2
Logistics for field trips (Day 3-4)
Dr. Anna Spenceley /Dr. Madina Regnault /Diana Koerner
Session 5: Tourism concessions and partnerships (F) Dr. Anna Spenceley
8.30 – 8.45 The prospects for environmentally sustainable tourism in New Zealand’s National Parks- testing a concessions-focused theory of regulation Valentina Dinica (New Zealand)
8.45 – 9.00 Protect and Prosper: World Heritage and Tourism in the Wadden Sea Anja Domnick (Germany)
9.00 – 9.15 A Public Private Partnership model for Ecotourism Development in Wadi el Gemal National Park in Egypt Mahmoud Sarhan (Egypt)
9.15 – 9.30 Q&A
9.30 – 10.00 Plenary discussion: What are the ingredients for successful concessions and partnerships? (F) Dr. Anna Spenceley
10.00 – 10.30 Tea/coffee
Session 6: Community-benefits and socio-economic linkages from protected area tourism Bruce Downie
10.30 – 10.45 Antigua and Barbuda’s contribution to Sustainable Tourism initiatives that link culture and Heritage meeting CBD targets Ruth Spencer (Antigua)
10.45 – 11.00 Benefits and Costs Experienced by Communities living next to Amboseli National Park and Kimana Conservancy in Kenya Dr. Margaret Wachu Gichuhi (Kenya)
11.00 – 11.15 An Investigation into Community Fishing Practices around Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania Prof. Kevin Mearns (South Africa)
11.15 – 11.30 The Hunting Ban and its Aftermath: The case of Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity Prof. Joseph E. Mbaiwa (Botswana)
11.30 – 11.40 Q&A
11.40 – 12.10 Plenary debate:   Best practices in community benefits from tourism in protected areas  (F) Bruce Downie
12.00 – 12.10 Video presentation: Wildlife FriendlyTM Tourism Certification as a Conservation Tool for Biodiversity in Small Island Developing States Marissa Altman
12.10 – 12.30 Video presentation:   Anthropological approaches of tourism in SIDS Prof. Thomas Ericsson
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch
Session 7:

Sensitization and Awareness: Tools and best practices to involve local populations and tourists in sustainable tourism

(F) Dr. Madina Regnault
1.30 – 1.45 Video presentation : Sustainable Tourism? Be my guest! – The case of Aruba’s Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort Francielle A. Laclé (Aruba)


1.45 – 2.00 The Impact of Environmental Degradation & Community Involvement Ehad Bhaukaurally
2.00 – 2.15 Social impacts of the Solid Waste & Tourism issues: how to involve locals and tourists alike in sustainable waste management. Katharina Raab & Prof. Ralf Wagner (Germany)
2.15 – 2.30 Using pre-dive briefings to change tourist diver behavior in Guam, Mariana Islands Ashton Williams (Guam)
2.30 – 2.45 We can make a difference…#AnseForbans Lisa Laporte-Booyse (Seychelles)
2.45 – 3.00 Q&A  
3.00 – 3.30 Tea/coffee
Session 8: Round table

Employment and Training in Sustainable Tourism: Tools to Reduce Poverty in SIDS

 (F) Frederick Thomas
3.30 – 3.45 Introduction

Sustainable Tourism as a Tool for Employment and Reducing Poverty in SIDS

Frederick Thomas (France)
3.45 – 4.00 Video presentation: Sustainable Tourist Destinations from a Human Resources Perspective: The Role of Green Jobs Prof. Adele Ladkin (UK)
4.00 – 4.15 Using SOCMON as a Tool to Involve Islanders in Develop Community Based Tourism and Provide Need Based Training to Foster Sustainable Product Enhancement Dr. Vineeta Hoon (India)
4.15 – 4.30 Approach and Processes Developed by the Indian Ocean Commission for Sustainable Tourism in Indian Ocean Véronique Espitalier-Noël (Mauritius)
4.30 – 4.45 Questions and conclusions of round table Frederick Thomas (France)
4.45 Closure of Day 2
7 pm Gala dinner at AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort

Keynote: Daniella Payet, Founder Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation
Keynote: Joelle Perreau, Dean of Arts and Social Development, University of Seychelles


Field Trips 

Saturday 25 November: Visit to Cousin Island Special Reserve, Nature Seychelles
Sunday 26 November: Option 1: Visit to Constance Ephelia Resort, Port Launay, Mahe
Sunday 26 November: Option 2: Visit to Cerf Island, Sainte Anne Marine National Park

An initiative contributing to


Tourism concession guidelines: now in French and Spanish on CBD website

Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: Generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development

Cover CBD 2 Sept 2017

The aim of these guidelines is to provide information to support protected area authorities to achieve sustainable tourism operations in their protected areas; to bring benefits to conservation and other purposes for which the protected area has been declared; and to avoid or mitigate negative impacts.
English: Web (7MB)Print (30MB)
Español: Web (6MB)Print (30MB)
Français: Web (6MB)Print (30MB)