When setting up AMADI it was crucial to me that as many facets of the company resulted in positive impact. With this in mind, it is a great source of pride for me that AMADI is a member of The Long Run, a membership organisation of nature-based tourism businesses committed to driving holistic sustainability. Like AMADI, The Long Run believes that travel can only be a true force for good if we – the travel industry – create transparency and the right incentives along the entire chain.
The Long Run supports, connects with and inspires conservation-led businesses like AMADI to excel in the highest sustainablility standards via their tried and tested 4C framework: Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce (4Cs).
Each member of The Long Run acts in way to ensure a healthy and productive planet for future generations. Collectively, their members conserve over 23 million acres of biodiversity and improve the lives of 750,000 people – real and tangible facts that tell a wonderful net positive travel story.
I was interviewed by Holly Tuppen, The Long Run’s Communications Manager. We talked about AMADI’s mission, the future of travel and being part of The Long Run community. I hope you enjoy reading it.
The alignment of ethos. We vet all the destinations and places we send our guests to. The Long Run members certainly stood out for us and hence it was a logical step to join the movement.
How are the 4Cs — Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce — already embedded in AMADI’s way of working?
We have taken the stance that everyone in the tourism chain needs to contribute – from the lodges, DMCs, agents, consultants and the press. Unless it is a combined effort, we will not be able to sustain these precious ecosystems. 1% of AMADI’s revenue is earmarked to flow into a handful of impact initiatives we partner with. One of them is The Olderkesi Community Wildlife Conservancy (initiated by Cottar’s Wildlife Trust). There, our funds are used to directly lease land from the community to compensate them for the opportunity cost to keep the land wild. In addition, we calculate and offset the carbon footprint for each of our trips and we as a company are carbon neutral certified.
How does AMADI help travellers to have a positive impact?
First of all, it’s about how we design the trips and where we send our guests. This alone allows guests to have a positive impact. Secondly, we often weave in philanthropic experiences into our itineraries, which empowers guests to do good. Lastly, we connect guests with conservation and community organisations that we know so that they can get involved on a deeper level.
What are you most proud about in regards to AMADI?
To see the change in people. Both on the guests side as well as the communities in the destinations. That’s where it starts. If we can change people, nature will be protected as a result. The other way around doesn’t work unfortunately.
Do you think the travel industry overall is changing for the better? How?
I’m not sure. It will be interesting to see what direction the industry will take in the first couple of years of the post-pandemic era. We’ve witnessed the overdevelopment of tourism destinations over again, which leaves ecosystems compromised. In the absence of long-term development plans that pursue a low–volume and high-value strategy, I don’t see how we will be able to protect fragile ecosystems in the long run. There are some great examples across Africa – for instance Botswana and Rwanda that have been very successful. More destinations are talking about moving toward such a model; however, we are yet to see the actions.
Do you see greater awareness about conservation and sustainability within the African continent? Give a few examples if possible.
Africa is known as the birthplace of eco-tourism, so there are lots of great examples. Over the past few years, we have certainly observed an increase in awareness about conservation and sustainability. For instance, lodges have started adding higher conservation levies, many have embraced new technologies to produce their own electricity from renewable energy sources, and on a more macro level, we saw Rwanda and Tanzania ban plastic bags.
What are the negatives / challenges of tourism in your destination or globally that you most hope to tackle?
In the African context, I would like to ensure that the funds that flow into the destinations are channelled toward the operators that really are doing the hard work. Tourism can be very extractive, and I see it as our role to select and empower the right partners on the ground that contribute to the conservation of ecosystems, pay their staff fairly and ensure that our guests can learn from that while they are there.
What still needs to be done to help travel regionally and globally be truly a force for good?
I would say more transparency. On the macro level, this can mean a transparent tendering process for concessions and sites and on an operator level, this can mean transparency about where the funds go. Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland offers a great approach through their Economic Nutrition Certification Mark, which creates transparency around where the funds go and what jurisdictions benefit.
At The Long Run, we help businesses and organisations embed long-term thinking into everything they do. What is your biggest hope for the future of your project?
To touch more people with the work we do. I hope to grow my team organically with like-minded people and get the opportunity to work with more guests that are seeking the conservation-led experiences we are offering. The ultimate is to contribute to the preservation of key wilderness ecosystems.
What do you look forward to most about being part of The Long Run community?
To connect with more people who share similar values and work towards the same goal.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about our partnership with The Long Run. As ever, if you have any questions on The Long Run, or any of AMADI’s initiatives, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected], we would love to hear from you.