Parker Cottage in the heart of Cape Town's City Bowl is more than just another bed-and-breakfast hospitality establishment set in a heritage (circa 1895) building. It's arguably the greenest heritage building in the city, and the country for that matter. The new owner, Pamela Nayler aims to prove that not only new build properties can be sustainably run.
And Pamela's aim is being remarkably well achieved, as Parker Cottage's recent Fair Trade Tourism accreditation testifies. Sustainable tourism practices include using rainwater for washing machines and irrigation of their indigenous gardens; water for showers, baths and rooms is heated using energy efficient air source heat pumps; and they actively separate waste for recycling by the needy through The Salvation Army.
In addition, Parker Cottage look after their staff incredibly well. Permanent staff receive 50% higher wages than the minimum prescribed benchmark for the industry and are motivated with guaranteed Christmas bonuses and inflation beating annual pay increases. Staff are also funded for at least one training course a year to ensure that they are up skilled and advanced on their career path.
Their commitment to community engagement and support includes anonymous funding of two school scholarships at St Pauls Primary in the Bo Kaap, regular donations of old linen, towelling, crockery, bedding and soaps to The Haven Nightshelter, supporting the work of Medicins Sans Frontiers with monthly donations, and sponsoring at least three room nights a year to charity organisations around Cape Town for raffles or other fundraising efforts.
Economic development projects include a policy to purchase supplies and services from businesses located in less affluent areas and owned by historically disadvantaged families and individuals. One such individual is their driver and guide, Chris Hannival, who was encouraged and supported to start his own transport business. Chris now offers work to a further two drivers as a result.
Travel. Enjoy. Respect. #IYSTD17
Travel is about sharing experiences and few tour operators enable guests to immerse themselves in South Africa's extraordinary mix of culture and creativity better than Coffeebeans Routes.
Established in 2005, Coffeebeans has created a formidable reputation as a cultural and creative tour operator, by focusing on stories. As founder and creative director Iain Harris puts it: “We build experiences around stories because everybody has them. In South Africa, where most of the population was legislated into silence, our stories can be equalisers. And this is African tourism's great opportunity.”
Coffeebeans Routes prioritises creativity. They create travel experiences around South African stories – contemporary, urban, African experiences that provide nuanced insights and complexity. They offer experiences in Cape Town and Johannesburg, working with a network of locals, from tourist guides, cooks, musicians, fashion designers and artists, to architects, spiritual leaders, brewers, wine-makers, historians, and everything in between.
Using tourism as a key to unlock economic potential, Coffeebeans enables visitors to explore the country's cultural diversity and legacy, and they manage it by creating sustainable development. Their approach to sustainable tourism practice is to focus on social justice, while in parallel implementing tangible sustainable tourism projects.
Says Iain: “Environmental impact starts with social justice. If radical social and economic disparities are reduced, if society becomes more equal, environmental sustainability is a natural byproduct. So the starting point for us is social justice, and our biggest impact is through a responsible approach to how we engage with people, communities and stories, and how positioning new narratives at the heart of tourism starts to level imbalances. When we start to take ownership of the environments we live in (given that so much has been taken away, making us indentured tenants rather than curators), we naturally minimise impact on the natural environment.”
Coffeebeans Routes story telling tours have become so successful that they have been the recipient of many award accolades, including the African Responsible Tourism Awards.
Travel. Enjoy. Respect. #IYSTD17