AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators

Expert Africa Sustainability

Expert Africa

Our sustainable Tourism Vision

Expert Africa has always tried hard to act fairly, ethically and responsibly in all our business dealings – including those with suppliers and communities in Africa, our team members and our travellers. This ethos is at the heart of what we do, and why we do it.

We are acutely aware of the many threats to Africa, including those posed by tourism, and we actively try to support areas where your visit will help most to conserve habitats and develop local communities. We aim to ‘give something back’ and have, over the years, supported a number of successful, small- scale conservation and educational projects in Africa. These aren’t famous charities with celebrity figureheads; they are good African projects that need our help, and we thank our travelers for enabling us to continue to assist them.

In 2008 we started to offset the carbon emissions resulting from our team’s research trips to Africa; in 2009 we began to ask our travellers if they wanted to do the same. Our outlook has placed us at the forefront of the responsible-travel movement and has led us to formulate a ‘responsible-tourism policy’. We hope that it will encourage you to monitor our actions, helping us to improve further.

We have always believed that acting responsibly is the only way to approach tourism, and we’re one of the few companies to hold AITO’s original coveted 5-star status for responsible tourism. It’s a lead that others are now following.

Sustainable Tourism Projects from Expert Africa

Expert Africa 2018 Testimonial

Expert Africa offers trips to some of the most delicate wilderness areas in the world and we have a responsibility not only to help protect these places, but also to promote the benefits they provide to those who live there.
Many travellers wish to stay at lodges which support local communities responsibly, and look to book with suppliers leading the field in this respect. Many of our suppliers are already involved in some brilliant initiatives and we wish to promote these more. In 2018 we committed to doing just this with the sustainability initiatives of a selection of the 1,062 camps and lodges we work with in Africa.

In collaboration with the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism, we worked with 180 undergraduates to contact nearly 200 lodges throughout Africa, researching and collating data for our website. Advising such a large group of students ended up being a much larger task than initially anticipated, but the direct communication with so many lodge owners has been extremely valuable in many ways. Fully understanding these sustainable initiatives has encouraged an increased focus on responsible tourism by our travellers, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their safari.

We were delighted to be able to learn more about the brilliant work carried out by many of our suppliers and now have a tangible way of showcasing their efforts and achievements. The feedback so far from our travellers and suppliers has been really positive. Nomad commented:
“Preserving Tanzania for future generations is at the core of what we do. It’s very important to us that our guests are aware that we are constantly striving to minimise the impact our camps have on the environment, so having prominent tour operators such as [Expert Africa] highlight the work we do is incredibly valuable.”

We enjoyed working with the students and hope the opportunity to participate was a valuable addition to the knowledge gained throughout their course. Once our website goes live, we hope to see increased enthusiasm from our travellers to actively focus on trips involving sustainable lodges.

Expert Africa - 2017 Pledge Testimonial

We chose a pledge with an emphasis on animal conservation - it is a topic that resonates with our travellers, & many of them want their trips to focus on wildlife, often the ‘Big 5’.

Narrowing down a specific pledge was challenging, as many of our suppliers already carry out valuable sustainability projects. Our initial plan to work with one initiative unfortunately fell through, but after helpful input from wider members of the team, we chose to support a women’s cooperative in Zambia (Little Ndaba) that crochets toy rhinos, with profits going to Save the Rhino as well as the local community. We’ve previously worked with Save the Rhino and this pledge enabled us to further our collaboration with them.

It was an exciting time when we consolidated our (many!) ideas into a concise pledge, to financially & materially contribute to Little Ndaba. We have been a support network for the very small administration team behind Little Ndaba in terms of the development of their website and brochure materials. We also donated £2,000 to create an updated website and are helping to increase their product exposure by providing our travellers with information about the initiative. “Many thanks again for reaching out to us - what a super Christmas gift!” Charles, Little Ndaba.

We also donated £1,200 to the Tanzanian charity Equality in Tourism (supporting women farmers in rural communities) and $1,050 to Azizi Life (a women’s cooperative in Rwanda, supporting 30 adults to learn how to read and write over 12 months), as part of our commitment to contributing a total of £15,000 to selected charities in Africa throughout the year.
Implementing our pledge has helped us recognise that what may seem like a small commitment from us can make a huge difference to others, and that not only money is required to make a difference, a diverse range of skills can provide invaluable support.

  • We aim to develop our pledge over time, as well as set sustainability and charitable principles in place within Expert Africa that will form a solid basis for the foreseeable future.

Expert Africa - 2018 Pledge: Showcasing sustainable practices in the safari industry.

For our 2017 pledge we had hoped to partner with, or set up, a grassroots project in Africa. However, as the majority of the suppliers we work with already carry out many worthwhile sustainability projects, we found it challenging to pick just one.

As such, for our 2018 pledge, we aim to get a better understanding of the sustainable practices and initiatives that our suppliers have in place. Working in collaboration with Professor Xavier Font and around 180 undergraduates from the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, we will research the sustainability practices of a range of the camps and lodges we offer, across a dozen countries in Africa.

Students are contacting suppliers with the aim to produce a concise case study on an initial 200 properties and their sustainability initiatives over the course of the next year. We have found that our travellers are increasingly more concerned with responsible travel and are looking to book with suppliers leading the field in this respect. We will therefore use the results to add a sustainability section on each lodge on our website highlighting the valuable work they carry out. This will help our travellers make a more informed decision, as well as encouraging an increased focus on sustainable tourism.

We are excited to be supporting these students in their tourism and hospitality management degrees and hope that the opportunity to work with real-world examples will be a valuable addition to the knowledge gained throughout their course.

    2017 Pledge - Expert Africa’s travellers helping the Big 5.

    Seeing the ‘Big 5’ is one of the main reasons our travellers want to go to Africa. Rhinos are one of the most iconic species of the 5 but some species are critically endangered.

    Expert Africa wants to play its part in conserving this incredible animal by working with Save the Rhino. We also aim to bring benefits to those living alongside these magnificent animals.
    In 2017, we will begin a partnership with Little Indaba, a women’s group in Lusaka, Zambia that produces and sells organic cotton animal toys. A selection of these are sold via Save the Rhino and a percentage of the sales support rhino conservation locally and globally.
    Expert Africa pledges £5,000 to help financially support Little Indaba. We will also contribute our time, in terms of business expertise and marketing support. We aim to help grow the group’s business sustainably, enabling them to reach more local women. Ultimately, this will raise more funds for the women themselves and more investments for Save the Rhino’s vital conservation work.

    We also pledge to make a financial contribution of around £15,000 throughout 2018 to community-based projects linked with different aspects of conservation in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania, which are some of the countries most visited by our travellers.

    We will actively promote these projects to our travellers, online and via social media. Increasing our own knowledge of conservation efforts in our key destinations will enable us to provide a better service, and also play a part in safeguarding the preservation of these wonderful species.

      Conservation Lower Zambezi

      In 2009 we started a programme of regular donations to Conservation Lower Zambezi – an NGO which aims to reduce poaching and misuse of resources in Zambia's Lower Zambezi. These are ongoing, and to date have included:

      • 8 GPS devices for anti-poaching patrols.
      • 2 digital SLR cameras, for assisting CLZ's environmental education work.
      • An air-to-ground radio for use on anti-poaching patrols.