Robin Pope Safaris’ Responsible Tourism Policy
Operating lodges within rare ecosystems and alongside local indigenous communities comes with a great amount of responsibility. Aware of this responsibility and the knowledge that tourism can negatively impact its surroundings, Robin Pope Safaris works hard to reduce our negative footprint and positively impact our environment. Our Responsible Tourism Policy helps us ensure that we operate in accordance with these principles. It also demonstrates to our tourism industry partners our commitment to social, economic, and environmental best practices. As we believe this approach to be the only sustainable way to deliver high quality safari and beach holiday experiences, we monitor, evaluate, and report our social, economic, and environmental impact annually.
Robin Pope Safaris recently won two awards at the prestigious Virgin Holiday Responsible Tourism Awards 2011 in recognition for their work with the community and environment including the Overall Winner.
Through our Responsible Tourism Policy, RPS aims to achieve excellence in the following:
- Caring for the Environment
- Caring for Wildlife & Conservation
- Caring for Local Communities
- Caring for Our Staff
- Caring for Our Clients
Economic Responsibility Policy
RPS works hard to achieve financial sustainability yet never at the expense of people, culture, or the environments in which we operate. As we operate in environmentally fragile and culturally sensitive surroundings in two of the poorest countries in Africa, we take our economic responsibilities seriously.
Our economic policy benefits Zambia and Malawi at a national level through the promotion of both as tourism destinations and contributing to foreign exchange earnings; it empowers marginalized, indigenous communities by providing employment, training, and promotional opportunities for neighbouring villagers in all aspects of our workforce; it supports gender equality; creates mutually beneficial trade linkages by supporting local producers and traders and minimises the leakage of revenue out of local areas through such trade; and contributes financially to community development and conservation programs in our areas of operation.
Environmental Responsibility Policy
RPS works to ensure a positive impact on its surrounding fragile and unique environments. This is achieved through a variety of methods including: energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and wildlife conservation initiatives. We monitor each of our environmental targets and brief clients on some of these issues during game viewing activities through our trained safari guides. We also hope to relay these messages through out website, client interactions, information in guest bedrooms, and through leading by example. A summary of our efforts in each of these areas follows:
RPS strives to use renewable energy sources, reduces energy consumption, reduces fossil fuel usage, and uses energy efficient design in new construction projects and refurbishments. Some examples of our commitment includes the use of unburnt bricks, natural air-conditioning through building design, the use of fuel briquettes made of leaves and waste paper, limited generator use, and energy efficient light bulbs. We are also looking to introduce solar and wind power systems.
We closely monitor and conserve our water usage through maintaining equipment regularly to reduce leakages, watering gardens at cooler times of the day, planting drought resistant native plants where landscaping is necessary, supplying guests with biodegradable toiletries, and minimally using harmful cleaning chemicals. As we continue to expand our water conservation activities, we are looking to adopt an optional guest towel re-use programme, flow restrictors on showerheads and taps, cistern bags in flush toilets, and rainwater and grey water harvesting.
In order to reduce waste, we avoid the purchase of glass bottled or tin canned goods where possible. We also use recycled paper in our offices and in brochure production, recycle our own paper and cardboard, compost biodegradable and organic waste for use in our gardens, responsibly dispose of harmful or non-biodegradable waste, offer refillable steel water bottles to guests in place of plastic water bottles, use organic farming methods, replace disposable items with reusable containers, and monitor littering. We purchase as many locally available supplies and produce as possible to stimulate local trade. All other supplies we purchase in bulk to minimize packaging and transport. We also avoid the purchase of goods that have been produced in harmful ways or are unfairly traded.
With its beautifully natural surroundings, RPS is fully committed to conserving and protecting its environment. We have therefore put many systems in place to ensure that wildlife and habitats are not disturbed by our operations. Some of these include avoiding cutting down trees for camp construction or firewood usage; avoiding building camps on wildlife migratory routes or in habitats that would impair the survival of wildlife; ensuring our guides are trained to the highest possible standards to ensure responsible wildlife viewing etiquette; being involved in area safari association committees to assist in creating and enforcing codes of conduct and regulations; supporting conservation efforts through financially support to national park authorities locally; supporting and partnering with non-profit organizations committed to conservation in our areas of operation; reporting snared animals to the authorities; promoting the protection of fish species along Lake Malawi National Park and assisting the parks with vehicles and resources when needed; and helping to tackle carbon emissions and deforestation through our reforestation projects while also educating local schools about these issues. In the future, we plan to put measures in place to ensure wildlife in the area are not fed, organize beach clean-ups by staff and neighbouring communities, carefully select shop items that do not use wildlife products, and lastly provide clients with a means of contributing to wildlife conservation if they wish to do so.
Social Responsibility Policy
Tourism can have a positive impact on neighbouring communities as it has the power to improve local living conditions and assist impoverished communities work their way out of poverty, whilst at the same time respecting local culture and traditions. RPS understands that there is an interdependence between local communities and the wildlife and natural resources our safaris rely upon. Because we operate in rural areas that lack other opportunities, we can greatly impact people's lives. We therefore proactively ensure that local people benefit both financially and in terms of quality of life from our operations. In order to have this effect, our social policy incorporates respect for local culture, benefits to local people and businesses, support for community development projects, access to education and healthcare, and care for our staff.
In terms of local culture, our lodges support local chiefs, facilitate tourist visits to villages in a responsible way, use local guides, and inform our clients of local customs, traditions, appropriate behavior, and their impact on local communities. We also educate neighbouring communities about the impacts of tourism to assist them in making informed decisions about tourism development. In order to benefit nearby people and businesses, we employ local staff and pay fair and competitive wages. Our purchasing policy ensures we purchase supplies locally whenever possible and contract local builders. RPS also supports community development initiatives by buying vegetables from a local agricultural project, by supporting a staff member and the orphans she cares for via her handicraft business, distributing guest philanthropy to worthy causes, and promoting guest tours to local villages to support their local businesses and school. We specifically work to improve school materials, teachers, and education standards, and support specific children with school fees. In terms of healthcare, RPS contributes to the upkeep of a health clinic in Zambia. Since HIV/AIDS is a serious healthcare issue in both Zambia and Malawi, RPS takes a part in educating staff members, assisting with access to drugs, counseling, and healthcare, and does not discriminate against HIV positive people in communities or via our employment practices. For our staff, we ensure high standard treatment, fair wages, and good working conditions as well as access to education and training. We employ solely on the basis of merit and employ local staff in all areas of our operations.
RPS Position Statements ~ Monitoring ~ Evaluation
Robin Pope Safaris is aware of the many issues that affect wildlife, the environment, and local communities. We therefore implement our Responsible Tourism Policy to ensure that running our lodges has a lasting, positive effect on our surrounding unique locations. Our lodges hold a firm position on factors that influence our environment such as wildlife viewing, use of 4x4 vehicles, trophy hunting, culling, scuba diving and snorkeling, fishing, and community-based tourism experiences. We work hard to ensure our position on harmful environmental practices is known and that our guest activities are carried out in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. In order to carry out our Responsible Tourism policy effectively, RPS also monitors, evaluates and reviews it practices regularly. In this way we can measure our impact and progress towards achieving our goals.
For any feedback or queries on our Responsible Tourism Policy, please contact us.