Seychelles is now ready to start taking applications for the 'Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label’ (SSTL). The official opening date is on 1 June, 2012 and hotels may apply by means of a letter or email addressed to the manager Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label, Sinha Levkovic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in collaboration with GOS-UNDP- GEF Programme Coordination Unit and with funding from GEF, officially launched the logo and brand for SSTL in September 2011 on the occasion of world tourism day.
It is in recognising the importance of tourism to the national economy and for the pressing need to preserve and protect the industry for future generations that a nationwide project to mainstream biodiversity into production sector activities with a grant from GEF was initiated.
An application fee applies and is as follows : Hotels 1 to 24 rooms the equivalent of 400 Euros in rupees. 25 to 50 rooms the equivalent of 800 Euros in rupees and over 50 rooms the equivalent of 1000 Euros in rupees. The Label is valid for a period of 2 years and the application fee goes towards paying the third party assessors. The hotels that apply in 2012 will benefit from 50% discount on the application fee and hotels applying in 2013 will benefit 25% discount on the fee. This discount will only apply in 2012 and 2013 for first time applications.
Hotels are encouraged to do their internal audits to ensure that they meet the ‘Must’ criteria before making an application. The result of the internal audit must be attached to the letter of application.
Technical assistance and one on one meetings can be arranged with the SSTL manager to assist the hotel in better understanding the criteria requirements prior to applications.
The SSTL being promoted by the Seychelles Tourism Board as the first sustainability label introduced in Seychelles forms part of this project and was designed to establish a set of standards that will encourage and guide hotel operators to play a vital role in adopting best practices in the operation of their businesses in order to ensure the sustainability of tourism in Seychelles.
The SSTL, which is voluntary, user-friendly and designed to inspire more efficient and sustainable ways of doing business, brings with it many advantages. These include support and transition to sustainable business practices; advice on the efficient use of resources leading to reduced business costs, the ability to demonstrate sustainable practices to staff, colleagues and customers and a more competitive and sustainable tourism industry in Seychelles that meets a growing demand for sustainable tourism services.
The label also provides visitors and tourism intermediaries with valuable information on sustainable tourism products, allowing them to make more informed travel choices while adding to the marketability of the products in question and to the further reinforcement of the label.
The SSTL which is a third party assessed, points-based certification scheme will allow businesses to continue to be productive in the future by contributing to the sustainability of the natural environment, to the future prosperity of the community and to the safeguarding of those economic resources upon which the future depends.
Since the launching of the Logo and Brand, ground work to set up the administration of the Label has been ongoing.
It was decided at the beginning of the project that the assessments should be carried out by a third party and to facilitate this, training was held In October 2011 for assessors and internal auditors. The training was facilitated by STAND and KUNDIZA of South Africa and concentrated on the criteria requirements, the different laws and legislations governing tourism practices in Seychelles as well as assessment procedures.
A further training held from the 14th to the 22nd of May is designed to reinforce the capacity and knowledge of the assessors in auditing and certain ISO standards. The training was facilitated by the Indian Ocean Certification Ltd and the Seychelles Bureau of Standards with financial support from GOS-UNDP-GEF Programme Coordnation Unit. IOC is a locally registered company, Italian based with international accreditation and represents IMQ and SpA locally. The assessors who have sucessfully completed the course, have received international certification and accreditation.
As part of the ground work, a Business, Marketing and Implementation plan (BMI) for the SSTL was developed in January this year through a consultancy with Dr. Twinning Ward and funded under the grant from GEF. This plan will provide the Seychelles Tourism Board with the necessary guidance and strategy to follow in the implementation of the label.
Following this consultancy, the criteria have been amended to be more streamlined and also to be inline with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s requirements.
The scoring which was pilot tested in four establishments of different sizes to test the weighting is presently being reviewed.
An Awards Panel has also been appointed. Its responsibilities are to review and endorse the reccomendations made by the manager of the SSTL to award the Label as well as to review any appeals from participating hotels with regards to the decision made vis a vis their application.
The panel, which is expected to meet once every two months, composes of 5 members, namely, Dr. Frauke Fleischer Dogley, Chief Executive Officer of SIF, Jenifer Sinon, Chief Executive Officer of the SHTA, Flavien Joubert, Director General of Wild life, Enforcement & Permits Division of the Ministry of Environment, Andy Ally, Manager Standardisation & Information Services of the Seychelles Bureau of Standards and Philomena Hollanda, Risk Manager Seychelles Tourism Board.
A dedicated website has also been developed for the label and is hosted on the Seychelles Touirsm Board domain. It can be accessed through the STB main page or thorugh the following link www.seychellestravel/sstl. Future certified establishements will feature on the site and will have the possibility to share their experiences in accessing the label and its benefits to their operations.
As part of the marketing effort, an introductory page on the label will feature in the Seychelles Tourism Board stay guide. A dedicated brochure has been developed and will be used at trade fairs and other marketing collaterals are being developed for the different markets.
The Seychelles Tourism Board looks forward to a good and exciting collaboration on this new project and remains at the industry’s disposal for clarifications further information.