African Buffalo

Ngorongoro Conservation Area Sustainable Tourism Strategy

Assessing sustainable tourism issues and needs to protect one of Africa’s World Heritage Sites

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of Tanzania’s most visited destinations, covering 8,292 square kilometers of savanna, highland plains, savanna woodlands and forests. The area is internationally renowned for the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera; the resident pastoralist population; and the native wildlife including Africa’s ‘Big Five’ – the African elephant, Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, African lion and African leopard. The protected area also harbors a range of endangered species and supports one of the largest animal migrations on earth, making it a global priority for biodiversity conservation.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to tribal communities who preserve their traditional way of life while co-existing with the area wildlife. The protected area also contains a number of key paleontological and archaeological sites where Hominid fossils dating back three million years were discovered. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was declared a natural property on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 and a cultural property in 2010.

In recent years, the region experienced considerable tourism growth as well as an increase in the resident and livestock populations. The conservation area now faces numerous conservation and community relations challenges linked to this growth including:

  • Degraded quality of the visitor experience
  • Saturation and congestion
  • Human wildlife conflict
  • Need for a diversified product offering
  • Lack of engagement with key stakeholders
  • Low capacity of local community
  • Low community involvement in tourism

Our Role

Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania

At the request of UNESCO, Sustainable Travel International completed a detailed situation analysis and tourism needs assessment to help the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) develop a holistic strategy for sustainable destination management within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was funded by the UNESCO Flanders Fund and Trust under the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme.

The work addressed some of the key issues affecting the area. Project objectives included:

  • Strengthening relations between key destination stakeholders
  • Safeguarding the outstanding universal value of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including protection of globally threatened species and biodiversity as well as preservation of the local culture and heritage
  • Enhancing the visitor experience

Sustainable Travel International undertook three key activities between May and June 2016: destination profiling, an on-site assessment and situation analysis, and a needs assessment report. The report contained key issues related to tourism in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and provided recommendations for improvement.

The situation analysis and tourism needs assessment will be used as the basis for completing the NCAA sustainable tourism development strategy.


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Region: Africa



Our Partners

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority

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Dominica Waterfall

Improving Waste Management in Dominica

Referred to as “The Nature Island,” Dominica attracts thousands of tourists each year to experience its wealth of forests, rivers and other natural attractions. However, growing waste management issues threaten the long-term health of these natural assets and prosperity of the tourism industry.

Over 4 million kilograms of waste were generated in Dominica in 2014, of which the tourism industry contributed approximately 4.5 percent. This substantial amount of waste poses a problem as Dominica’s waste management infrastructure is inadequate for current or future needs. Resources are limited and there is a need for additional collection trucks, haulers, and recycling collection points. In addition, the inconsistent enforcement of policies results in missed opportunities for improved waste management. Because there are no policies or resources in place to address food waste in hotels, organic matter that could be composted is instead being sent to landfills. There is also a general lack of public awareness about waste management issues and the related environmental concerns.

Our Role

Kalinago Territory Waste Management

Dominica is the only Caribbean island with a remaining population of pre-Colombian Carib Indians, now known as the Kalinago. The majority of this indigenous population lives in a series of small rural settlements that make up the Kalinago Territory on the northeastern coast of the Island. Due to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Kalinago, there is a high potential for community-based, cultural tourism in the region. This tourism development would create additional income opportunities for the communities, but it would also bring challenges such as added waste.

During an action-planning workshop conducted as part of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), local stakeholders identified a priority project focused on improving waste management in the Kalinago Territory. The goal of the project is to develop a model waste management plan for the region. Town hall meetings will be held to discuss waste separation and create a collection schedule. In addition, local residents will receive training to become garbage collectors and a truck will be purchased to start collection. This project will help ensure the Kalinago Territory remains an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike as community-based tourism grows.

Composting for Tourism Businesses

In 2015, Sustainable Travel International partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to develop a waste management tool for the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States. As part of this work, local stakeholders met for an on-site workshop and identified quick-win project ideas for improved waste management in Dominica’s tourism sector. Stakeholders chose to prioritize a project focused on implementing a food waste composting program in Roseau and its surrounding environs. Increasing the amount of food waste being composted by tourism businesses will reduce the amount of waste going to the island’s only landfill, prevent harmful environmental impacts, and lessen business costs. In addition, the implementation of a composting system also represents potential economic benefits as the finished compost could be sold for use by farmers or hotel gardens.

This pilot project will target participation of 20 hotels, restaurants and related entities in Roseau and its surrounding areas. The vision is to address composting at a national level by scaling up the pilot project to other regions of the country based on lessons learned and funding secured.

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Related Work

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

Learn more about how the SDAA is combatting key environmental and human threats associated with tourism in the Caribbean and Latin America

Waste Issues

Learn more about how we’re addressing waste issues affecting other destinations 

Puerto Natales Chile recycling project

Puerto Natales Recycling Project

Since 2015, the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund, a travel philanthropy fund established by Sustainable Travel International in partnership with the Fink Family Foundation, has provided over $6,000 in grant funding to the Municipality of Puerto Natales to install the town’s first permanent recycling system.

Located in Chilean Patagonia, the city of Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Puerto Natales is home to 20,000 people; however, park visitation results in an additional 200,000 visitors flowing through the city annually. This population generates a substantial amount of waste. As tourist numbers continue to rapidly grow, there is an ever increasing need for waste reduction and waste management solutions in the surrounding community.

Historically, all of Puerto Natales’ waste has either been found scattered throughout the streets or piling up in the ever-expanding landfill on the outskirts of town. Fortunately, this all began to change in 2010 when the owners of Erratic Rock hostel, a mainstay for backpackers passing through Puerto Natales, decided to address the town’s waste management problems. Motivated by a desire to preserve the local wilderness and improve conditions for both residents and visitors, Erratic Rock took action towards developing a recycling solution.

Despite the lack of a formal infrastructure, Erratic Rock began to organize regular recycling days each week within their own business community to collect recyclable materials. These initial efforts were funded by Erratic Rock along with grant funding provided by Patagonia, Inc. through their 1% for the Planet contribution. When enough materials were collected to fill a shipping container, the container was added to existing cargo headed weekly on a ferry to Puerto Montt, home of the closest recycling facility, over 2,000 kilometers north.

Due to the success of this movement, the Municipality of Puerto Natales (MuniNatales) agreed to assume management of the operation in 2014. Although the transition provided increased local capacity for its continued success, the operation lacked the resources for expansion into a permanent infrastructure for the city. Erratic Rock continued to receive the grant funding from Patagonia through 1% for the Planet until the program was discontinued in 2014.

This is when the Legacy Fund stepped in to support the Puerto Natales Recycling Project. The initial grant provided by the Legacy Fund allowed MuniNatales to purchase five containers to act as clean points, or “puntos limpios.” These containers were distributed throughout the town for residents to dispose of their recycling. The effort was expanded when BORSI, a German thermoplastic processing company, agreed to sponsor the purchase of ten more containers. Every week, the material collected from the containers is transported to a collection center on the outskirts of town. The materials are then sorted and compacted by employees of Recipat, a local recycling company based in Punta Arenas. Once sufficient material is collected, everything is shipped via truck or boat to recycling centers in Puerto Montt and Santiago.

The “puntos limpios” are only the beginning of a more sustainable future for the community of Puerto Natales. With this small infrastructure in place, education and awareness-building are needed to promote the recycling system to the town’s residents and businesses. As the program continues to expand and recycling becomes a common practice for everyone in the town, the long-term plan is to develop a modern recycling facility in Puerto Natales that will service the entire Magallanes region.

Tourism will continue to grow in Torres del Paine National Park and the surrounding region. With this growth, it becomes increasingly important for the area to have systems in place to be able to manage the influx of people and the waste that they create.

Learn more about Sustainable Travel International’s efforts in and around Torres del Paine National Park.

Our Work in Torres del Paine National Park

The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is a travel philanthropy fund established by Sustainable Travel International in partnership with the Fink Family Foundation that is ensuring a more sustainable future for Chilean Patagonia.

Oryx in Sossusvlei

Promoting tourism in Namibia’s communal conservancies

Capturing the North American tourist market to alleviate rural poverty and support local conservation efforts in Namibia.

Located along the Atlantic Ocean in Southern Africa, Namibia spans over 800,000 square kilometers of natural and cultural diversity. Namibia’s resident population is made up of at least 11 different ethnic groups, resulting in a rich mix of heritage and traditions. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Namibia’s rural indigenous population lives in poverty due the country’s history of apartheid and the resulting income inequality. The country’s geography varies greatly, from sand dunes and rugged mountains to tropical rainforests and savannahs. These landscapes host a high number of endemic species, making wildlife conservation a crucial focus.

Namibia was the first country in the world to specifically address habitat conservation and the protection of natural resources in its constitution. This led to the establishment of 82 communal conservancies – defined geographic areas within which the local residents are responsible for the protection of the wildlife and other natural resources. Residents are also given rights over tourism operations and development within the conservancy boundaries. This means the local people are more likely to be engaged in and receive the benefits from tourism. The influx of tourists to communal conservancies combats Namibia’s high rural poverty levels by stimulating rural community development, creating new job opportunities, generating alternative income streams, and providing new skills and expertise.

Communal conservancy tourism also fosters sustainable management of natural resources and stimulates cultural preservation. Because Namibia’s most compelling tourism assets are the native wildlife and cultural heritage, local communities now associate these natural resources with increased economic benefits and place a greater value on conservation efforts. This has resulted in decreased poaching, the successful restoration of native species such as black rhinos, lions, cheetahs and zebras, and the ongoing revitalization of cultural traditions.

Of course, the success of economic development and conservation efforts within Namibia’s communal conservancies is highly contingent on the prosperity of the country’s tourism industry. While Namibia enjoyed steady tourism growth during the decade after its Independence in 1990, the economic recession in the years following led to a decline in tourist arrivals from the country’s traditional European source markets. With every tourist signifying an opportunity for poverty alleviation and resource conservation, this decrease in arrivals represented an impending threat to the well-being of Namibian communities.

Our Role

To combat the decline in European tourist arrivals and spur sustainable tourism development, Sustainable Travel International joined Cardno, a professional infrastructure and environmental services company, and other partners to implement the North American Destination Marketing (NADM) Project. The project was funded by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) – Namibia on behalf of the Namibia Tourism Board.

The NADM project aimed to diversify Namibia’s source markets by attracting more travelers from the United States and Canada and increasing the number of tour operators who sell Namibia. Achieving this tourism growth would mean greater benefits for local people and communities engaged in tourism, particularly those living in rural poverty, including:

  • Greater local employment and economic gain from increased foreign engagement with Namibian festivals and events
  • Increased local capacity and skill-set
  • Enhanced appreciation and conservation of Namibia’s natural and cultural heritage
  • Increased social cohesiveness
  • Enhanced national and community pride
  • Cultural enrichment and broader social outlook through increased interaction with other people, ideas and cultures

The project took the form of a destination marketing campaign implemented over the course of four years. The campaign promoted Namibia as an exciting new destination, with added emphasis on conservancy-based tourism. Sustainable Travel International led the Festivals and Events component of the campaign. STI’s work focused on increasing the quality and recognition of Namibian festivals and events as well as communicating the essence of the destination by offering compelling, authentic stories. Our efforts included:

  • Capacity building workshops for locals focused on festival / event planning, marketing, and how to meet the needs of North American travelers
  • Development of educational resources for Namibian event planners
  • Relaunch of Namibia’s Ae//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival in 2014
  • Targeted outreach to travel trade, PR and strategic business networks
  • Event promotion through North American marketing and media channels
  • Promotion of Namibia as a prime destination for North American event planners

Our work, along with other project components, contributed to the ultimate success of the campaign. There are now 141 new North American companies selling Namibia and North American tourist arrivals grew from 19,342 at the beginning of the project to 28,787 in 2014. There are also 158 new itineraries to Namibia, many of which are specifically focused on communal conservancy tourism.

While these achievements are considerable, the impact of this project extends far beyond the numbers. The resulting prosperity in Namibia’s tourism industry signifies additional economic opportunities and improved quality of life for people living in rural poverty as new jobs are created, foreign money flows into the local economy, and sustainable development is made possible.  Additionally, the growth in conservancy based tourism heightens the perceived value of wildlife, habitats, cultural traditions and local heritage as prized assets, ensuring that conservation efforts continue to be a top priority.


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Destination: Namibia

Region: Africa



Our Partners

  • Namibia Tourism Board
  • Cardno Emerging Markets Group Ltd
  • Solimar International
  • Development Counsellors International

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Protect the Places You Love

Give back to conserve our planet’s most vulnerable destinations and empower the people who live there. Join the movement today.

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