Sustainable Tourism in Africa: Our Committed Approach

East Africa’s TPS Serena Hotels Group, which has 23 properties (hotels, resorts, safari lodges and camps) in East Africa, is committed to an ambitious environmental, economic and social approach.

In the middle of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park lies Njora village with its 44 manyattas, with their long lines of thatched roofs. There are fences made of acacia thorns around each of these traditional homes of the Maasai people, which protect families and their herds against wild animals.

In the early morning, the rising sun reveals the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro, laying in the distance at an altitude of some 6,000 meters. Several women leave to draw water from the only nearby well, others milk the cows and get their children ready for school. The men leave Njora to go to work. In this month of January 2020, this is the case for Mbake Sitonik, a member of the landscaping team of Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge. This safari lodge complex is part of TPS Serena Group, the leading player in East Africa’s tourism industry.

Mbake Sitonik has been working there for 15 years. His day generally starts at 4 am and his first job is to feed his livestock (cattle, sheep and goats). The father of three (two boys and one girl) attaches a great deal of importance to education. “The schools were quite far away, to Oloitoktok 35 km or Nairobi 210 km away. At our old village schools children used to sit on stones under the trees to study… But we now have a proper school nearby thanks to tourism. The tourists at Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge help sponsor the children,” says Mbake Sitonik. Over the past ten years, TPS Serena Hotels has worked with 28 local schools and 12,700 students in East Africa under the ‘adopt a school program’ to ensure the children have a conducive environment for learning. This is through eco-clubs that involves tree planting, education on renewable energy and waste water recycling; health outreach programs; infrastructure maintenance and enhancement; and through learning aids. “I’m very proud to be part of this hotel group, which is experiencing very strong growth in the countries where it operates”, says Mbake Sitonik with a smile.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced TPS Serena to temporarily close all its facilities. Governmental directives and protocols regarding the management of the pandemic seems to be helping in the countries that the TPS Serena Group operates in. Whilst the situation is still fluid and very uncertain, the TPS Serena Group Management will be mindful of the local Governmental directives/protocols for re-opening the economy. There could be a gradual reopening during the summer, depending on developments of the health situation.
“Our team is leveraging on this downtime to continuously review, reassess and reinvent our business and operating models, to personalize and enrich changing ways of meeting customer post COVID-19 needs and requirements; and thereby to continue to surpass the expectations of our guests in the ‘next new normal’,” says Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Group Managing Director of TPS Serena Hotels.

The TPS Serena Group Management have had various deliberations on identifying the cleaning and sanitization equipment for staff, guests and product that will need to be put in place. These will complement efforts on the current review of standards from an operation, service, environmental, health, safety and comfort perspective in line with World Health Organization (WHO) and the national and local medical authorities’ protocols.

TPS Serena Hotels, renowned for pioneering exceptional business and holiday experiences in some of Africa’s most exotic destinations, understands that the health and safety of the traveller is of utmost importance at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. The world has changed, but we are bonded in our humanity; and, that Nature awaits. When the time is right, TPS Serena Hotels will be ready to welcome you for a memorable experience.

Close with Local Communities 

TPS Serena Hotels is the tourism arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and is majority-owned by Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), a longstanding partner of AFD Group. It has contributed to creating a range of high-quality hotel facilities, while basing its development on strong social responsibility. The Group is supported by PROPARCO, which has committed USD 64m to it since 2008, as well as a EUR 42,000 technical assistance project. The technical assistance project was to develop a formalized and standardized system allowing for systematic measurement of the local footprint and contribution to local development and economic activity generated by Serena Hotels in East Africa.

TPS Serena Hotels activity ranges from site selection, capital expenditure on new products and existing products, local procurement of food, beverage, utilities; wages; staff training; taxes; concession fees; park and conservancy fees. Through the value chain this results to various rounds of re-spending in the local economies by the guests, staff and local suppliers as each previous impact generates successive waves of revenues, salaries, taxes and jobs for the local economies. Ultimately this translates into the tourism expenditure multiplier and TPS Serena Hotels Gross Domestic Contribution (GDP) to the East African national economies is USD 291.4 million per annum.

“When TPS Serena Group was created, the objective wasn’t only to set up a profitable organization. We wanted to set some examples, whether it was the architecture of our properties, the location, training of our local human resources to ensure our projects have a huge impact on the development and economies of the countries where we operate within”, says Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Group Managing Director of TPS Serena Hotels. The Group directly employs over 4,000 East Africans and through its value chain creates over 18,000 indirect/induced jobs per annum.“We spend considerable time and resources to ensure that our employees are well-trained and that they can benefit from the experience and training programs in East African countries other than those from where they come from, indeed a ‘living’ reflection of East African unity”, adds Shenin Virji, Group Business Analysis Manager at TPS Serena Hotels.

Furthermore, TPS Serena Group’s procurement strategy thrives on local sourcing. All its hotels give priority to the communities living around their area of operation for the supply of fresh food products, the sale of arts and crafts and the organization of cultural guest activities.

Through the 21 Serena Clinics that are available to guests, staff and the local community, 21,805 community members are provided with free medical and wellness consultation each year. Approximately 23,000 community and 30,000 livestock benefit through the safe drinking water around the Serena properties.

Read More: Source Proparco 

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