Publications: Tourism certification and standards

Sustainable tourism certification in the African hotel sector (2018)
Anna Spenceley

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.

largecoverThe 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%) 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.

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.

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Ecotourism standards: international accreditation, local certification and indicators (2013)
Anna Spenceley and Amos Bien

International handbook ecotourism coverThis book chapter considers the development and application of indicators, certification and accreditation to the tourism industry, and their application to ecotourism in particular.  It includes information on processes to develop indicators, describes the value and challenges of certification, and explores accreditation systems used by  the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.  It is published in “The International Handbook on Ecotourism”, edited by Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer.

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Assuring community benefit in South Africa through ‘fair trade in tourism’ certification (2007)
Jennifer Seif and Anna Spenceley

quality assurance coverThis book chapter discusses the work of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (now Fair Trade Tourism – FTT), a non-profit initiative that has developed a primarily social certification programme based on fair trade principles and practices. The programme recognizes and supports tourism establishments in South Africa that operate fairly and contribute to the country’s socioeconomic transformation objectives. The chapter draws in part on research into the perceived benefits and likely impacts of fair trade tourism certification. It concludes by considering how this initiative could inform other tourism certification programmes in other destinations.  It is published in “Quality assurance and certification in ecotourism”, edited by Rosemary Black and Alice Crabtree.

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Financial sustainability of sustainable tourism certification programs  (2006)
Abigail Rome, Alice Crabtree, Amos Bien, Herbert Hamele, and Anna Spenceley

Financing certification coverThe objective of the International Ecotourism Society study was to propose strategies and mechanisms to help sustainable tourism certification programs achieve long-term financial viability. The study looked at financial models and mechanisms used by certification program from other industries (such as organic produce and forestry) and from various tourism certification programs from around the world. In this report seven non-tourism certification programs and one non-tourism accreditation program to determine which experiences were applicable to tourism. In addition, 33 tourism certification programs working in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa were evaluated to examine their financial structures and strategies, as well as listen to their recommendations. Representatives of 12 funding bodies and two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting sustainable tourism or green certification in the United States, Latin America, and Africa were interviewed to determine their funding priorities and interests; find out what types of relevant projects and programs they have supported; and elicit recommendations for how to help sustainable tourism certification and accreditation bodies become more financially sustainable.

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Tourism certification in Africa (2004-6)
Anna Spenceley

The International Ecotourism Society commissioned a series of studies on tourism certification in Africa, with support from the Ford Foundation. Schemes covered include Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa, Green Globe 21, Blue Flag, the Heritage Ecotourism Rating scheme and the EcoRating scheme. Three of the reports from this series can be accessed below.

Financing tourism certification in Africa (2006)
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Tourism certification initiatives in Africa (2005)
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Tourism certification in Africa: Marketing, incentives and monitoring (2004)
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Getting started: The experiences of South Africa and Kenya (2002)
Eddie Koch, Peter John Massyn and Anna Spenceley

Ecotourism and certification honeyThis book chapter reviews the experiences of establishing standards for sustainable tourism, and tourism certification programs in South Africa in Kenya. In particular it considers the Heritage Ecotourism Rating Program and Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (now Fair Trade Tourism), and also the EcoRating program.  This book chapter is published in “Ecotourism and Certification: Setting Standards in Practice”, edited by Martha Honey.

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