Do you want to help us to diversify the tourism & leisure industry within upcoming markets? Are you interested in the development of family entertainment? Do you want to make a step forward in a future where social, environmental and inspirational values are put on par with financial returns?
Last perspective we discussed the impact that tourism has on least developed countries, mainly focussed on Africa. Looking at the news of the last few weeks, all we see is news updates on overcrowded cities such Amsterdam, Venice and Barcelona. Locals are angry. ‘The city has completely lost its identity.’, “tourism kills neighbourhoods.” And “Tourists go home” are common messages that are communicated by inhabitants of many European cities. Does tourism here not have the same value as it has in countries in Africa? Or are we in the west too spoiled with our economy that we do not see the real potential that tourism has?
Tourists are invading cities
With tourists invading popular cities in Europe many countries are thinking about regulating the number of arrivals of tourists in their cities. For example, in Barcelona they are thinking about a tourist’s tax, Croatia wants to decrease cruise ships and other cities want to decrease the amount of tourists at popular spots. How can tourism be good for a country or city while all it does is create rubbish, noise, take over houses for locals and destroy national heritage?
Tourism: what are the numbers?
The research company Oxford Economics calculated that the tourism sector creates 10.2% of the world GDP. In the whole world tourism brings in 6400 billion euro’s. Besides this amount of money it also creates 1 out of 10 jobs (292 million). The tourism industry is the fastest rising industry in the world and therefore experts say that tourism is becoming more and more important for Europe and the world. Worldwide there are countries where more than half of their income is from tourism. The Maldives is most highly ranked with 77.8% of their GDP (!). In Europe, Croatia is leading with 18.8%, but also in Italy, France and Spain the contribution of tourism is high.
Authenticity is leading
The problem is that in tourism people are looking for two things: comfort and authenticity. Travel agencies are adjusting towards their customers’ demand, while locals need to show hospitality towards these tourists and be ‘authentic’. It makes sense that all popular cities like Amsterdam (the iconic houses), Barcelona (the Gaudi buildings) and Venice (the canals) are overcrowded. All these cities have something in common: it has something authentic. But in order to keep attracting tourists to these cities (and countries) it is therefore mostly important to keep this authentic culture. So, what do you need? The locals. In all of these cities it is very difficult to find a local and ask where to go. It is all tourists. (Venice, which has 265,000 inhabitants for around 24 million visitors annually.). But also the preservation of the heritage sites are important in order to keep attracting tourists. Research has shown that: ‘Nearly 50% of World Heritage sites, which are recognized by UNESCO for their outstanding universal value, do not have tourism management plans in place to prevent the negative impacts of tourism.’
What you see happening is that the enthusiasm to travel is increasing but the enthusiasm of the cities and locals is increasing. There is a problem there. Looking at all the activists in these cities that are trying to ban tourists, these locals forget that their economy is also highly depended on the tourism sector. In Spain for example tourism drives 12% of the total economy. In Dubrovnik, Croatia they do not demonstrate as most people make a living out of tourism, but they do believe that they might become the victim of their own success. Maybe there is a task for the government of these cities to connect the advantage of tourism with the interests of the inhabitants. Create sustainable tourism where meeting each other is central, where it will add value to the quality of life of the locals and the tourists.
The role of the ministry of tourism
The situation that is arising in these cities seems to be connected to a lack of vision from the governments in these countries. In Turkey the ministry of tourism has shared a strategy for tourism in the whole country. He said that tourism can be a facilitator between communities and countries, it can lead to new ideas and shared values between cultures. It might even help in solving political conflicts and keeping peace.
Maybe countries like Spain, Italy, Croatia and the Netherlands are wise to think about adding tourism to their political agenda and think of a national strategy to keep tourists to their countries, but start marketing other parts of the country to spread the tourists across the country. Create a tourism infrastructure. In this way we can all enjoy visiting new places and still have a good quality of life in our hometown.
If you have followed the news lately you cannot help but notice that a lot has been written on tourism and sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that have been set by the United Nations but most importantly the role that tourism can play in reaching these goals. Enough information to give our view on this topic, we thought.
Recently the Dutch news channel NOS reported that Africa is becoming the fastest growing destination when it comes to tourism. The most of these tourists visit the North and South of Africa (that is where the resorts are situated) which cover 64% of the total amount of tourists. You would think that most of these tourists are international but it might surprise you that 4 out of 10 tourists are from Africa itself. These regional business-, medical- and leisure trips are contributing to the growth of tourism in Africa. But why is tourism actually increasing?
Tourism as a facilitator of economic growth
In a report from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2017) on ‘tourism for sustainable development in least developed countries’ it has been mentioned that “international tourist arrivals have experienced an annual increase of around 4% since 2009” and at the moment the world’s total exports consists 7% of tourism and the world’s services 30%. Here it can be seen that tourism is very important for trade. The report also says that tourism can actually reach the goals of the SDG in 2030 when it comes to sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption, production and also the sustainable use of the oceans and marines. This means that tourism will represent 10% (!) of the gross domestic product in the world. But it will not only contribute to these three goals, tourism ‘has the potential’ to directly and indirectly contribute to all of the SDG’s, which are 17 in total. (This would mean that all the three dimensions of sustainable development are managed: economic, social and environmental) Wow! That sounds impressive right?
Tourism: How are we doing?
The UNWTO has defined sustainable tourism as: ‘tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities’’. How is tourism doing at the moment?
- It is providing one out of ten jobs in the world. Mostly the vulnerable young and women get into the labour market.
- The world’s 48 least developed countries received 29 million tourists.
- These countries see tourism as a sector that can provide them with economic development, job creation, and poverty reduction and can improve their international reputation.
- Tourism provides foreign exchange and investment, it generates employment and business opportunities.
- With the increase of tourists in a country the export and import of services also increases.
It can be concluded that a lot is happening in the tourism sector, especially in the least developed countries. What is needed to expand this growth?
Economic performance, policies and image.
The UNWTO has set five pillars for sustainable tourism that are most important.
· Pillar 1- Tourism policy and governance
· Pillar 2- Trade Investment, Data and Competitiveness
· Pillar 3- Employment, Decent Work and Capacity Building
· Pillar 4- Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion
· Pillar 5- Sustainability of natural and cultural environment
From all of the 48 least developed countries most of the countries would say that the second pillar is most important. Followed by the first. The first pillar makes countries aware of the importance of having a proper tourism strategy and a solid ministry of Tourism for example. Following these pillar Rwanda, for example, created a tourism policy for 2020. But something that gives struggles considering the second pillar ‘economic performance’ is the bad reputation that Rwanda, due to the genocide, and other countries face due to wars, social strives and poverty. The media also keeps that image alive and travel warnings from other countries make that is very hard for such a country to break this image. This means that very good marketing is needed to change this image. Easier said than done.
Skills and cultural heritage
Seeing that tourism is important in many countries, three other subjects come to mind: education and preserving cultural heritage and nature. In many of these countries there is still a gap between the skills that are required and the skills that they actually possess. When there are colleges, they do not have the qualified instructors. Also speaking different languages, most importantly English, and giving good service to customers are requirements for a good tourism sector. From a GreenDream’s perspective we would also say that is not only important to understand what ‘offering service’ is, but also understanding different cultures and seeing that every culture has different rules and manners. Another pillar, which is also perfect for tourism is the preserving of cultural heritage and nature. Many countries are protecting their wildlife and are creating more nature reserves.
What needs to happen?
Mostly everyone needs to understand the importance of tourism. It is not something that is just a fun thing, it can actually help a country grow economically, provide jobs, creating value chains, help local businesses expand and preserve nature and cultural heritage. Instead of only supporting countries with money for food, why should we not invest in tourism projects that are creating real impact in these least developed countries? Cooperation between different stakeholders, including the ones in charge for the environmental sustainability, could help tourism make a real impact in the world!
Interested how GreenDreamCompany is working on facilitating sustainable tourism and therewith make an impact? Visit our website or contact us.
The last few weeks our team has worked very hard towards a new and improved website. This website has a totally new look and provides more information on Our challenge (what are we working on?) our Ubuntu philosophy (what drives us in our work?) and furthermore we explain which different types of Value we strive to create within our projects.
In ‘I exist because of we’ you are able to meet Our team (I) and explain how we work together with partners and supporting entities in our GreenDreamGroup (We). To give you a better idea of what we are doing in our projects we explain in Our solutions how our expertise can give solutions to broad challenges and invite you to contact us with your challenge! In our portfolio we give you an insight into the projects that we work on. Have a look!
Of course we also would like everybody to be able to stay up to date. In our news updates we share information on our company and in our column a GreenDream’s Perspective we give you our view on trends and developments in the leisure and tourism industry.
Do you feel inspired? Sign up for our news updates and make sure to follow us on our journey!
United Nations declares 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism
The United Nations has declared 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism. By doing so, they underline the fact that tourism in fact can be sustainable when operated and managed in the right way. It cannot be a coincidence that precisely this year, we will start with the development of a sustainable tourism infrastructure in Rwanda!
The tourism infrastructure developed in Rwanda will fall under the leisure brand: Solomon’s Hidden Treasures®. This brand introduces a totally new standard in the tourism and leisure industry as it aims to generate the largest possible impact. This implies that we consider also other types of value creation than just economic value. With our area approach our goal is to also create social, ecological and inspirational value in each of our projects.
Small is beautiful…
Years ago we have started with a relatively small project in Ethiopia, the development of one tourism destination in the surrounding of Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government supported this project with the construction of a 60 km long concrete road towards our project area. This road increased the accessibility of the surrounding villages, which stimulated the economic development of the area. An amazing result! We however realised that the development of one project was not going to bring about a gigantic growth in tourism numbers. The socio-economic impact on a local level was significant, whereas the impact on a national level was negligible. We could do better than that!
But bigger is feasible
As we realised that the development of several destinations would make a country as a whole more attractive for tourists to visit, our focus shifted towards area development. Scaling up our approach also opened doors to cooperation with parties as: Deltares, the Worldbank, Universities and Governments, to name a few. The knowledge and advice of these organisations are very important in the professionalization of our projects and affect our credibility positively. The increase in scale has also led to the establishment of our own academy. This academy is providing employees and hired parties vocational training. Furthermore we are busy organising our value chains, to make sure our products are sourced in a sustainable way and fair way. This is something that was not feasible for one single project. This year we hope to start with the realisation of our first sustainable tourism infrastructure which will be located in Rwanda.
2017: our year!
We are ready, the UN is ready, the world is ready! Let’s take the next step!
CEO and co-founder of GreenDreamCompany, Leontine van Hooft, was honoured to receive a Super Achiever Award in the sector Leisure, Hospitality & Tourism at the World Women Leadership congress on the 17th of February 2017 in Mumbai, India.
GreenDreamCompany is receiving the Sector Super Achiever Award in the category ‘Multi Value Driven Organisation’. The company is specialised in tourism infrastructure projects. The ventures and projects that the company is working on are based on 4 values: Inspirational, Economical, Ecological and Social. GreenDreamCompany has left behind many famous international organisations and brands from the sector during the awards ceremony in India.
‘Like a Lion on the move!’
Leontine van Hooft: ‘’We are very proud of the recognition of our innovative, inclusive and key turning approach within the sector. Together with our DreamTeam we have worked very hard for this and now we are ready to scale up’’
The sector of Leisure, Hospitality and Tourism is clearly looking for new ways and possibilities to connect to the demand of this changing times. By declaring the year 2017 the year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, by the UNWTO (United National World Tourism Organisation), recognition is finally received for the impact that this sector has and can make as a game changer and catalyst for area development. Thereby the sector also carries the responsibility for creating healthy environments.
GreenDreamCompany has been active in (African and East European) new and upcoming markets for almost 10 years. The company has expanded their services and activities towards Western Europe in 2016.
The team of our private investment company Ubuntu Impact Investments (UII) has worked very hard to introduce a new website. On this website you can find information on the following topics:
- What is the story about Ubuntu Impact Investment?
- Portfolio: what are we working on?
- Impact investing: how does it work?
- Trends and developments in the markets that UII is focussing on.
Explore the new website here.
Creating real impact through Tourism
According to an Oxford Analytics study, tourism is a big contributor to worldwide employment, providing one out of every 11 jobs. Furthermore, it can bring together a diverse community of small businesses and service providers such as food suppliers, tour guides and landscapers. In a video from the IFC (international Finance Cooperation) it is explained how a hotel can form the source of impact for an entire region. As GreenDreamCompany we believe that this is a perfect example of how tourism, not only hotels, can create impact in new and upcoming markets in the world.
Creating a hotel or a touristic site does not only create new jobs, it can also add value to the local infrastructure of a region. New roads are needed to make the location accessible, but this does not mean that these roads are only useful for tourists coming to the hotel. As perfectly said in the video: ‘’the effects go beyond the hotel itself.’’ These roads can also be used by local suppliers, making it easier to reach villages and farms. The jobs provided by a hotel or tourism destination are not just for people to make money, it can also function as the development of skills. This means: really investing in staff by giving training and education. So that: ‘’a cook can become a chef’’. It is all about increasing the standards.
All the opportunities above are perfect examples of values that we like to call: Social and Economic. At GreenDreamCompany we add two other values in our projects: Ecological and Inspirational. Reshaping the local infrastructure is not only about establishing new roads, we also want to restore the landscape and create an ecosystem where we re-use materials, care about water and energy use and set standards for waste disposal. Lastly we want to create experiences and entertain people through cultural heritage and storytelling. We want to make people feel connected to each other.
So no, a hotel is not just a place to sleep…
Representatives of several Dutch companies interested in the tourism sector visited Rwanda in January 2016 to identify viable investment opportunities.
New Times, January 24, 2016
Representatives of several Dutch companies interested in the tourism sector are in Rwanda to identify viable investment opportunities.
The companies, led by GreenDreamCompany, a Dutch group that specializes in sustainable area development of natural and cultural heritage sites with the use of tourism, arrived on Wednesday intent on staying for a week.
The trade mission comes a week after local industry operators again showcased Rwanda’s vast tourism potential during a week-long tourism fair Vakantiebeurs 2016 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Read the full news article of the New Times here.
After almost 10 years of doing business in Africa the founders of GreenDreamCompany have decided to establish Ubuntu Impact Investments: an impact investment company in the leisure & tourism industry, focused on emerging markets and with an innovative and sustainable investment model.
Promoting economic growth by financing private sector initiatives
Ubuntu Impact Investments will finance private sector initiatives that promote economic growth and long-term employment, or that provide aid to the society or improve quality of life.
Please visit www.ubuntu-impact-investments.com for more information.
“Looking to sustain and increase growth, tourism can be harnessed through joint public and private sector efforts to achieve growth, wealth creation and shared prosperity.”
Gaiv Tata – Director of Financial and Private Sector Development for the World Bank in Africa