November 2017 – Wilderness Safaris has launched an innovative Cultural Tourism Ethics Charter to ensure best practice for all community engagement and authentic cultural experiences across the Group. This further demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to its 4Cs sustainability ethos and Culture ‘C’, with the other three Cs being Commerce, Community and Conservation.
The Ethics Charter and Codes of Conduct was developed to set out specific guidelines on the kind of community engagement and cultural interaction that Wilderness Safaris would like to promote, while also ensuring that there is no degrading of cultures or exploitation of people. In a number of Wilderness Safaris camps, guests are offered the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lifestyle of the communities surrounding the conservation areas where the camps are located. These interactions are handled sensitively, with respect and with the ultimate goal of increasing knowledge, raising awareness and enriching both guest and community.
Cultural tourism involves any guest activity that results in engagement with a local community, such as a village visit, cultural/traditional dancing, or an educational encounter, and therefore the Charter states that, “Care must be taken by all Wilderness Safaris staff and guests to ensure that there is always respect and sensitivity in all forms of engagement, and that all involved parties are enriched by the experience”.
“Culture and Community are important components of our core 4Cs sustainability framework. Within Wilderness, we’re proud to work with more than 50 different cultures across the eight countries where we operate. By compiling an Ethics Charter, we aim to foster healthy respect, understanding and appreciation for the cultures of all our employees, as well as the remote rural communities that neighbour our conservation areas”, says Dr Sue Snyman, Wilderness Safaris Group Sustainability Manager.
The document sets out pre-, during- and post-cultural tourism codes of conduct which ensure that all Wilderness Safaris guests are given a high-quality experience that results in satisfaction and enrichment, as well as greater knowledge and appreciation of natural and cultural heritage. The Charter will be rolled out throughout the company in due course and Wilderness Safaris’ guides will receive ongoing training on how to use it and deliver the best cultural experiences to guests.
“The launch of the Cultural Tourism Ethics Charter aligns with the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and UNWTO’s focus on the role of tourism in ‘Cultural values, diversity and heritage’. We at Wilderness Safaris firmly believe that in order for tourism to be truly sustainable, it must incorporate the short and long-term goals of communities”, noted Wilderness Safaris Culture Coordinator, Bongani Baloyi.