In­dian Ocean:

Re­spon­si­ble tourism

Selling Travel - - Contents -

From within the in­nocu­ous look­ing open-sided thatched shack, plonked aside some fields, the hero of this story – the chef – duly de­liv­ers a tra­di­tional, multi-course culi­nary mas­ter­class. Us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, he con­jures up a pro­ces­sion of im­plau­si­bly tasty cre­ations over a stove, as I strug­gle to con­trol my rum­bling belly.

I devour dish af­ter dish with Greg Wal­laces­tyle zeal and, had I not been so re­plete, by the time it came to leave I think I’d have wept Sri Lankan curry tears.

The ex­pe­ri­ence, pro­vided by Vil­lage Rider (vil­ and booked via Red Dot tours

(red­dot­, be­gan with a small con­voy of tuk tuks weav­ing out of the city’s melee be­fore we ca­reered down a muddy path to­wards a foodie nir­vana of true spicy deca­dence.

Sri Lanka’s re­spon­si­ble tourism bow has many strings, from the cul­tural trea­sures of Kandi and Sig­uriya to its em­blem­atic wildlife such as ele­phants, leop­ard and the whale watch­ing off Trin­co­ma­lee and Mirissa.

I’ve seen it all, yet for some rea­son my mind al­ways wan­ders back to that belt­stretch­ing tra­di­tional feast I presided over in the coun­try­side out­side Galle.

Au­then­tic tours

As au­then­tic culi­nary tours have gained trac­tion in re­cent years the In­dian Ocean’s feted high-end re­sorts have adopted a more sus­tain­able ap­proach to sourc­ing and dis­pos­ing of food­stuffs.

Take Ku­ra­mathi in the Mal­dives, where many in­gre­di­ents used in its restau­rants are grown on-site, en­riched by fer­til­iz­ers from com­posters fu­elled on food waste.

At Mau­ri­tian re­sorts such as Maradiva Vil­las & Re­sort ( and Shanti

Mau­rice (shan­ti­mau­ guests can learn about eat­ing sus­tain­ably while tour­ing their or­ganic gar­dens. Oth­ers are doc­tor­ing menus, such as Six Senses Laamu (sixsenses.

com), which stopped serv­ing shrimp and prawn in Septem­ber due to their heavy en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

Wa­ter is an­other fo­cus. Re­sorts such as Hil­ton (hil­ at its Labriz Re­sort in The Sey­chelles, and At­mos­phere at its Mal­dives prop­er­ties (at­mo­sphere­ho­tel­san­, now give out re­us­able glass bot­tles of wa­ter from de­sali­na­tion or wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion sys­tems.

Sea changes

Marine con­ser­va­tion is a ma­jor con­cern. In the Sey­chelles the gov­ern­ment re­cently pledged to in­crease its pro­tected wa­ters from 0.04 to 30% by 2020, and in Oc­to­ber is­sued a 10-year ‘blue bond’ on fi­nance mar­kets to help fund fish­eries projects.

With its low-ly­ing is­lands no na­tion is ex­posed to ris­ing sea lev­els as the Mal­dives. A ma­jor fo­cus is pro­tect­ing and re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing its re­sorts’ famed house reefs whose coral has suf­fered from ‘bleach­ing’ due to ris­ing ocean tem­per­a­tures.

Coral cul­ti­va­tion schemes are now com­mon. At Niyama Pri­vate Is­lands (niyama.

com) the coral nurs­eries are ac­ces­si­ble from the beach and guests can snorkel them with or with­out the re­sort’s marine bi­ol­o­gist.

And last sum­mer saw Sum­mer Is­land sub­merge an artificial, 3-D Printed

Reef in its la­goon to pro­mote growth


Many re­sorts, in­clud­ing Niyama, fea­ture Coral Adop­tion pro­grammes. Kandima Mal­dives ( of­fers guests on­line up­dates as their adopted coral grows on artificial frames in its la­goon. Other ini­tia­tives in­clude air con­di­tion­ing via a waste gen­er­a­tor.

Projects at Gili Lankan­fushi (gili-lankan­fushi.

com), with its ded­i­cated marine bi­ol­ogy shack, wet lab and two full-time marine bi­ol­o­gists, range from sea­grass meadow plant­ing to Manta Ray and Tur­tle con­ser­va­tion.

Sus­tain­able ap­proach

Op­er­a­tors tak­ing a group-wide sus­tain­able ap­proach in­clude Banyan Tree (banyantree.

com), with its Stay for Good pro­gramme. An­other strong eco-friendly player is Blue Sa­fari Sey­chelles group whose Alphonse Is­land (alphonse-is­ is now to­tally re­liant on so­lar power.

Both Four Sea­sons Sey­chelles re­sorts

(foursea­ of­fer marine ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes, in part­ner­ship with NGO WiseOceans. Des­roches Is­land, which opened in March, fea­tures a marine Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre and guests can go on a guided snorkel with a marine ed­u­ca­tor.

Land-based pro­grammes in­clude North Is­land’s Noah’s Ark (north-is­ project, aimed at re­pop­u­lat­ing the is­land’s indige­nous Sey­chel­lois wildlife.

Lesser-vis­ited ar­eas gain­ing trac­tion in­clude Mozam­bique where lux­ury, sus­tain­able op­tions num­ber andBeyond Benguerra Is­land and andBeyond Vamizi Is­land, sis­ter prop­er­ties to andBeyond Mnemba Is­land off Zanz­ibar (

Lo­cal trade-friendly op­er­a­tors fea­tur­ing bio­di­verse Mada­gas­car, whose top re­sort spots in­clude Nosy Be and the Mit­sio Ar­chi­pel­ago, in­clude lo­cal op­er­a­tor IC Tours (ic­ and Rain­bow Tours

(rain­bow­ which of­fer ev­ery­thing from small group jour­neys to stays at Mi­a­vana Pri­vate Is­land.

What’s new

Flights: Air Mada­gas­car new’s do­mes­tic air­line, Tsara­dia (tsara­, ser­vices 10 do­mes­tic des­ti­na­tions out of the is­land’s cap­i­tal An­tana­narivo. Ethiopian Air­lines

(ethiopi­anair­ now flies di­rect to Nosey Be from Ad­dis Ababa, from where it now con­nects to Manch­ester (from De­cem­ber 11), as well as Heathrow.

DMCS: Khiri Travel ( un­veiled a new trade-fac­ing web­site in Novem­ber fea­tur­ing sus­tain­able hol­i­days and ex­pe­ri­ences in

Sri Lanka and the Mal­dives. “Re­spon­si­ble travel prac­tices are at the core of our travel ex­pe­ri­ences and our new web­site shows this,” said founder Willem Niemei­jer. Rep­re­sen­ta­tion: A pri­vate con­sor­tium of Tan­za­nian op­er­a­tors, TANTOO (tantoo. org), re­cently signed up Ka­m­a­geo (ka­m­a­geo. com) to rep­re­sent them in the UK trade. In­dian Ocean op­tions in­clude The Zanz­ibar Col­lec­tion (thezanz­ibar­col­lec­

Ho­tels: In Novem­ber Mau­ri­tius’ Ve­randa Ta­marin re­opened fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive six-month ren­o­va­tion (ve­randa-re­

Also just open is SALT’s first prop­erty

(saltre­ Set on the is­land’s east coast the 59-room SALT of Pal­mar prom­ises a ‘hu­man­is­tic ap­proach to hospi­tal­ity for the cul­tur­ally cu­ri­ous trav­eller’. Pro­grammes in­clude Skill Swap where guests ex­change their time and tal­ents with lo­cal ar­ti­sans. it will open its SALT Farm in March, part­ner­ing with a lo­cal NGO to com­bat food waste.

Blue Sa­fari Sey­chelles (blue­sa­ opened its lat­est prop­erty, Cos­moledo Eco Camp, on Wizard Is­land in the re­mote atoll of Cos­moledo in Novem­ber. The ‘eco pod’ rooms at the bou­tique, eight room eco-luxe prop­erty are housed in ship­ping con­tain­ers.

A Club Med will open in Sey­chelles in 2020.

Op­tions in Sri Lanka in­clude Harding Bou­tique Ho­tels’ (hard­ing­bou­tique­ho­ six-suite lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel Ahangama, open­ing au­tumn 2019 in Ahangama.

New Mal­dives prop­er­ties promis­ing sus­tain­able ap­proaches in­clude Westin Mal­dives Miriand­hoo Re­sort (mar­ and Mӧven­pick Re­sort Kured­hivaru Mal­dives

(moven­ in the Noonu Atoll, fea­tur­ing 105 vil­las and suites (72 over­wa­ter).

De­cem­ber saw the open­ing of JOALI Mal­dives ( on Mu­ra­vand­hoo is­land. The ‘eco-luxe’ charmer ac­tively en­cour­ages guests to off­set their car­bon foot­print by sup­port­ing its lo­cal projects.

The Res­i­dence Mal­dives at Dhig­u­rah in Gaafu Alifu Atoll (cenizar­i­dence) opens this month next to sis­ter prop­erty The Res­i­dence Mal­dives at Fal­hu­maa­fushi.

Fu­ture open­ings in­clude Hard Rock Ho­tel Mal­dives (hardrock­ho­, open­ing in

March, and the 200-gue­stroom Saii La­goon Mal­dives, Cu­rio Col­lec­tion by Hil­ton (sai­ire­sorts.

com/mal­dives/la­goon), open­ing in April.

Top ex­pe­ri­ences

Meet the vil­lage peo­ple: The TUI Col­lec­tion of re­spon­si­ble tours fea­tures an Agro Vil­lage Tra­di­tions ex­cur­sion sam­pling vil­lage life at Sri Lanka’s Agro Park Mil­laniya, backed by a visit to a Bud­dhist tem­ple and a coun­try­side tuk-tuk ride. Adults from £52.64. (go­

The right in­gre­di­ents: on Shangri-La Villingili Re­sort & Spa’s Farm to Plate dining ex­pe­ri­ence, guests learn about sus­tain­able grow­ing whilst tour­ing the chef’s gar­den and farms of lo­cal sup­pli­ers be­fore en­joy­ing a ‘han­d­line’ fish­ing trip. In­gre­di­ents are then cooked back at the re­sort. $725 for two peo­ple. (­sort/).

Sail away: Turn a boat ex­cur­sion into a hol­i­day with G Ad­ven­tures’ Mal­dives Is­land Hop­ping eight-day round trip from Hul­hu­male (priced from £649). Al­ter­na­tively, the op­er­a­tor’s Sail­ing Sri Lanka – East Coast itin­er­ary is a seven-day round trip from Ne­gombo, from £1,139 (gad­ven­

Head in­land: Mau­ri­tian DMC Mau­torco’s Wild South tour ex­plores the stun­ning Black River Gorges Na­tional Park and takes in ev­ery­thing from wa­ter­falls, trails and dor­mant vol­ca­noes to a rum dis­tillery tour (mau­

Where to book it

ANDBEYOND – +27 11 809 43

The new six-day Oceans with­out Bor­ders Small Group Jour­ney, pri­vately guided by a marine bi­ol­o­gist, teaches clients all about the op­er­a­tor’s sus­tain­able tourism ef­forts.

The price, from $10,775pp, in­cludes a $1,500 Ocean With­out Bor­ders do­na­tion, a villa at andBeyond Vamizi Lodge, Mozam­bique, and re­turn flights from Dar es Salaam to Vamizi.

RAIN­BOW TOURS – 020 7666 1266 The nine-day Cy­cle Across Réu­nion is a guided tour across the vol­canic is­land on two wheels. Priced from £3,550pp, it in­cludes ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­fers and flights from the UK. rain­bow­

“Mir­ihi Is­land’s ‘Sea to Roll’ Fish­ing & Sushi Mak­ing Ex­cur­sion has an ear­ly­morn­ing fish­ing trip aboard a Mal­di­vian Dhoni be­fore mak­ing and eat­ing lunch”

Clock­wise from top left: Four Sea­sons Des­roches Is­land’s Marine Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre; a mar­ket in Colombo, Sri Lanka; a dhoni wait­ing on the wa­ter by Dusit Thani Mal­dives; learn­ing about food, Shangri La’s Villingili Re­sort & Spa, Mal­dives; andBeyond Vamizi Lodge

This page, clock­wise from top left: A food tour with In­trepid; Kandima Mal­dives; the chef’s gar­den at Shangri La’s Villingili Re­sort & Spa; SALT of Pal­mar’s skill swap in ac­tion; Blue Sa­fari eco-camp, Sey­chelles. Op­po­site: Banyan Tree’s tur­tle pro­tec­tion pro­gramme

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