How hotels using CSR to improve lives of locals

24Aug 2019
The Guardian
How hotels using CSR to improve lives of locals

More hotels operating here have began engaging their guests in corporate social responsibility with the view to improving lives of local communities.

Mawimbi Villa

Reports indicate that guests are responding to these efforts. According to a 2015 study conducted by Tourism Cares, about 55 percent of travelers surveyed made a donation of time, money, or supplies while traveling over the past two years.

Additionally, 64 percent of those surveyed felt that giving back greatly contributed to their trip satisfaction. Tourism Cares, a nonprofit, unites the travel and tourism industry to benefit the people and places our industry depends on.

 "When you look at that research and you look at the state of the world, we're living in a time in which there's no shortage of problems. Whether you want to talk about air pollution, water pollution, wildlife conservation, just overall community support, animal welfare, or anything, really, there are plenty of people and organizations that need assistance," said Jessica Blotter, founder and CEO of Kind Traveller.

It is not just happening in other parts of the world. In Pangani, a hospitality brand, The Tides, is taking the initiative. 

According to the company General Manager, Willem Pelser, the properties are creating positive change not only among their staff but also in the surrounding community of Ushongo. "Over 90 per cent of our staff come from the surrounding community and we don't just want to uplift their standard of living but also that of their children, neighbours and friends, we want this community to be successful."

"Development or business cannot succeed without close and cordial relations between the properties (investor), government, village and the communities where the investment is placed," said Pelser.

Pelser said that the investment, comprising of two properties in Ushongo, The Tides Lodge and a sister property known as Mawimbi Villa has and still is undertaking projects that are aimed at improving the standards of living of the people in the village and Pangani in general.

"Our major focus is on health care and education. Everyone deserves to get basic health care, it is a basic human right and currently the people of Ushongo have none available in the village. Without the resources to get a good education how can children serve their communities and their country successfully in future? " he pointed out.

"Investors and properties alone do not have the means available to create real change by themselves. Guests and travellers to our communities play a vital role in mobilizing funds and connections to ensure these projects can come to life. The role of the villagers and communities in this is vital. By welcoming guests, showing them this amazing piece of Africa and by looking after the natural resources here the communities ensure that the guests become a part of the story and thus being much more willing to contribute in any way possible to the cause."

"National laws require investors to pay a monthly village levy. This levy is not enough for the village to implement development projects that can have an impact on the people's lives," said Pelser.

Going above and beyond the monthly village levy the most recent project that the company has undertaken is the completion of a clinic that was previously built by a Kenyan NGO to three quarters completion.

He said that they are collaborating with a New York-based NGO, Afya Foundation to complete the clinic. "Afya Foundation is based in Yonders, New York and it was founded in 2007 by Ms. Danielle Butin, MPH, OTR after a trip to Tanzania where she encountered the dire circumstances and severely limited medical resources of its medical clinics.

"It seeks to spread "Good Health Through Giving," and does so by providing medical supplies, consumables, sustainable equipment, and community outreach supplies to international health clinics," she said.

According to Ms. Butin the primary goal of Afya is to bring good health to those who need it most and one way in which it accomplishes this goal is by collecting donations of surplus medical supplies from New York hospitals.

"These supplies are stored temporarily in the Yonkers warehouse until volunteers load them into 40 foot containers bound for various international locations," she said.

Ms. Butin added that Afya tailors its shipments to the needs of specific communities by maintaining an up-to-date computer-based inventory menu from which international health organizations and professionals can self-select medical supplies from the warehouse via the web.

So far, Afya has sent over 30 supply filled 40 foot containers to Haiti, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi and Sierra Leone. Included in these shipments, according to the foundation, are a range of items from ultrasound machines and operating tables to soccer balls and pens.

"The completion of the clinic and securing the medical equipment needed is a large undertaking and one that will require cooperation from all involved. We have inspected the property and are in the final stages of planning the completing construction. We are raising funds from guests and neighbouring communities and businesses in order to transport the vital medical equipment from the US. A contingency plan is being set in motion in order to keep receiving the necessary medical supplies on a regular basis once the clinic is operational. The village has played a vital role in this project by aiding with labour, welcoming guests and showing them the community. It is vital to increase awareness about the factors that influence the guest experience, and indirectly the funding of this project, in our area such as pollution, sustainability and noise pollution. Increased and continued support from our community will ensure the project is successful" Pelser was quoted saying.

The brand has executed several other projects including collaborating with a Canadian NGO to execute a USD 3000 project to rehabilitate Ushongo Primary School.

"Our maintenance team cooperated with villagers for one month to fix the roof, walls and installing steel rods in windows and we will continue to review the maintenance necessary annually," he said.

Pelser mentioned that there is a massive shortage of school supplies including teacher materials and text books in our community. "Our guests have played a vital role in securing funds on a regular basis to replenish stock according to the head teachers requirements and requests. The welcoming nature of the school and its pupils has ensured that this project can be successful for years to come," he said.


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