Solidarity in Tourism

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Solidarity in Tourism: Co-operation in Tourism for Sustainable Development

Boracay and Bantayan, FilipinasBoracay and Bantayan, Filipinas
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Solidarity in Tourism incubates cooperatively-run businesses along the value-chain of tourism and promotes solidarity markets in accommodations, food service, and activities.  Our goal is to foster cooperation in tourism and promote sustainable development.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if tourism was really a global and local convergence to catalyze sustainable development?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Tourism accounts for 1 out of every 12 jobs and 5% of global GDP (Towards Tourism 2030, UNWTO). Unfortunately much of the growth in tourism fails to take local communities seriously. Instead, investors reap the benefits of a beautiful beach or a distinct cultural heritage. The dearth of community-led tourism contributes to a ‘leakage effect’ wherein tourism revenues (as much as 70%) leaves the community through foreign ownership and imports.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

SIT will work in established tourism sites in the Philippines and, at the same time, within tourism markets. Highlighting the lost opportunity of ‘leakage’ we will provide concrete ways for tourists and businesses to support cooperative initiatives within the tourism value-chain. In the first year, we will build local capacities to produce inputs for the tourism sector. We will assess needs and assets with a focus on waste recycling. We will help local associations in their feasibility studies and business plans. We will also organize resorts to ‘buy co-op’ for tourism inputs such as food, biodiesel from waste cooking oil, bamboo and tours. We aim to promote socially-responsible tourism through online storytelling and booking.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A community in Bantayan has identified through asset-mapping an idle fishpond that could be used to produce high-quality vegetables in an aquaponics system. We will work with the community to assess the market for salads and vegetables among tourism businesses on the island in order to create a business plan that utilizes the community assets (knowledge of fishing and agriculture; the fishpond; local markets), connects with appropriate technology and resources (universities; open bidding process), and collaborates with businesses in understanding their needs (tomatoes, arugula etc; peak season). While this may seem labor intensive, nothing less will enable marginalized communities to understand and effectively engage their local economy.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 2014, we will engage 50 families and 50 resorts in Boracay and 300 families and 22 resorts in Bantayan. We aim to improve the lives of 3500 families through co-operative membership after 5 years. Families dependent on commodity crops and fishing should see their livelihoods stabilize and communities should improve through the growth of coops linked with tourism-supported agriculture. On the consumer side, we aim to engage 675 resorts in 5 years, and will measure impact in terms local coop sourcing policies and the establishment of risk-sharing mechanisms. In 3 years, we want our website with payments capability and stories of the solidarity-economy in tourism to finance a significant portion of our capacity-building budget. In 10 years we want to see local coop sourcing policies widely adopted among government and the private sector!

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our work as a bridge between tourism business and communities will generate evidence-based, cooperative solutions for coastal development. We hope to shift the conditions of possibility for ethical sourcing through our capacity-building with the community. Our work aims not to build a niche market for responsible travel, but to build skills, trust and incentives to scale up the impact of tourism on local development.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

For 2014 we have secured $25,500 from two donors. We are seeking philanthropic donations for the remainder. In 2015 we hope to be able to fund 10% ($10,000) of our projected costs through private sector referrals (Remit4Change and Phil PostBank) and seek philanthropic donations for the rest. In 2016, we want our website to earn $40,000 that we will use for capacity-building in new areas. We expect to be financially self-sufficient in 5 years.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Some NGOs have started 'livelihood' projects (ie. shell craft, basket-weaving), but the end market for these products is small and subject to fashion. The average tourist spends much less on souvenirs than on accommodations, food and tours. By contrast our strategy is specifically to involve local producer cooperatives in the value-chain of existing businesses. We hope to shift the conditions of possibility in ethical sourcing in the tourism sector through local capacity-building and in turn incentivize better business practices through our web platform.
Team

Founding Story

As a Filipino-Canadian-American living and working with TIGRA in the Philippines since Aug 2011, tourism emerged for me as a convergence point between the reality of transnationalism and the challenge of development. SIT is the culmination of my position as transnational Filipina, a scholar-activist, a traveler, and a co-operator. However, particularly in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda, and my work on the ground in Bantayan, it became clear to me that environmental resilience is linked to sustainable livelihoods, especially for those who are economically tied to the land and sea. I believe ethical decisions about the places we consume are not lifestyle choices but crucial levers of power that ultimately decide what kind of world we live in.
About You
Organization:
TIGRA Philippines
About You
First Name

Melissa

Last Name

Gibson

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

TIGRA Philippines

Organization Country

, Boracay and Bantayan

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Boracay and Bantayan

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Our target is to engage 50 families and 50 resorts in the first year in Boracay and 300 families and 22 resorts in Bantayan. We will directly impact 3500 families and 685 resorts after 5 years. On the consumer side, we can measure our impact in terms of the number of resorts with local sourcing policies. In 3 years, we want to manage a robust website with payments capability and stories of the solidarity-economy in tourism in Boracay, Coron, Mactan, Bantayan, and Camotes. In 10 years we want local co-op sourcing policies widely adopted among government and the private sector!

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

A central challenge is managing the risk of diversifying traditional cropping to supply for the needs of resorts. In Boracay, as there is no low season in tourism, there needs to be consistent supply of necessary produce and an economy of scale large enough to incentivize producers and consumers alike. We're specifically looking for slow capital for this purpose until we have proof of concept and can move to a risk-sharing mechanism such as the CSA model. In Bantayan, as tourism has a high and low season, we will have to 'time' the harvest and high season to coincide until tourism stabilizes.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

TIGRA has been instrumental to the development of this project. In May 2014, they will be bringing 25 key leaders to view our projects and contribute to our future success through resources and expertise. We are also working with a grassroots project, Back to Sea in Bantayan, with the Bantayan Island Association of Hotels, Resorts,Bars and Restaurants. In Boracay we are part of the Boracay Initiative, affiliated with SSTDI.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Demonstrate how closed feedback loops can make a difference in people’s lives.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

We intepret market cues to ensure that locals have the information, skills and relationships they need to close the production-consumption loop in tourism. Further, our web platform will educate and enable tourists to make an informed choice based on a metric of ‘Kapwa certified’. This is a measure of environmental and social responsibility including a business’ actions and plans vis-a-vis their waste stream, sourcing practices, and environmental design. This platform will be a crucial incentive for businesses to source ‘co-op’ and change their business practices to support communities.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

Our web platform (kapwa.ph) will educate and enable tourists to make an informed choice based on local knowledge including the status of common resources and common dreams. The ‘Kapwa Certification' will involve local communities in measuring environmental and social responsibility including a business’ actions and plans vis-a-vis their waste stream, sourcing practices, and environmental design. This platform recognizes that responsible tourism ought to be about responsibility to local resilience. The platform will be a crucial incentive for tourism businesses to source locally and, therefore sustain local co-op production. Our initial target market is the balikbayan tourist because of our solid networks in the Filipino-American community. 30% of tourists in the Philippines are comprised of Filipinos living abroad. Connecting tourists with local information is key to changing the current system that enables tourism to benefit owners over the broader local economy. This does not necessitate a name and shame campaign. We believe that if the right incentive structures were in place, businesses could be enjoined to participate in the local economy as a good neighbor and a crucial solidarity market for local vegetables, fish, soap, bamboo products, 'green' charcoal and other tourism inputs. We are cognizant of the fact that ethical options along the value-chain of tourism are not always feasible or available in the current market. We hope to shift the conditions of possibility for ethical sourcing through our capacity-building with the community. Capacity-building itself a feedback system that empowers communities to seek out the information they need regarding current and future demand in the coastal value chain.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Other

If other, please specify

To create new standards in responsible tourism

What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

SMS, Paper, Website, Physical gathering.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

While this is still in the planning stage, we know we need a technology platform that can promote transparency in everyday practices by aggregating local reviews, traveler reviews, and ground-level information related to the Kapwa Certification. While criteria within the Kapwa Certification has yet to be fully determined, our approach will look at the value-chain of tourism, paying particular attention to water, energy, waste, food and community relations. In addition, a fisherman, a resort employee, and a tourist would each equally have the opportunity to provide qualitative data through a review process. How all these inputs with be 'weighted' is still TBD. Locals (employees and residents) will be encouraged to provide feedback via either a paper or sms anonymous questionnaire. Community leaders (of the fisherfolk associations in Bantayan for example) will encourage their members to participate in the survey. Survey-taking will occur twice a year to allow for progression on the part of a business; A poor rating can always be improved.

The tourist will be encouraged to review through the online platform. Transparent business practices and a metrics geared to tracking improvements in connecting the local economy would also enable the tourist to track her spending impact on development. This could be measured based on where she stayed, for how long, and the kinds of activities she participated in. Ultimately, it could produce a statement related to the social benefits of money circulating locally. A statement such as: “I spent 3 days snorkeling in Coron and helped send a child to school!” is a ‘shareable’ movement that will incentivize responsible business and champion a local economy at the heart of tourism.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Option to provide feedback anonymously

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

If other, please specify

Economic pressure through tourist preference for social responsibility

How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Meetings discussing results with providers

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

The Seafood Choices Alliance (and partners) have done a very remarkable job at educating consumers about their seafood choices, and in turn providing crucial feedback and a sustainable demand market to the fisheries industry. Their main goal is not to promote a niche market in seafood, but to "convene and connect voices in a safe and neutral environment in ways that lead to industry change".

Fairtrade International has also been incredibly successful at creating a feedback system (certification) that enables more transparent production conditions (in coffee for example), thus creating 'actionable' knowledge for retailers and consumers. They have been able to connect consumers (mostly in the Global North) and producers (in the Global South) to promote an industry-wide shift towards fairness and accountability.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Right now, we are planning to do this in Boracay and Bantayan in order to show proof of concept. However, the goal is really to scale it up to reach all tourism communities, even non-tourism communities. For this we need much more on-site capacity building than our one organization could really handle. Ideally, we would provide the modules, the feedback platforms, and some initial guidance, but ground-level assessments would be incorporated into the education curriculum at the college level in business administration, management, fisheries, agriculture etc.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of incentives for people to provide feedback

If other, please specify

The feedback process needs to produce an outcome. Many in the communities are tired of research for research sake.

Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

We've applied for the Gadfly Geo-Based web apps grant and if successful the Feedback Store could be resource to help us design the feedback platforms. Perhaps there is an open-source idea that we can modify for our purposes or we could integrate an existing platform (like Ideascale) into our main website.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

Conference calls in the early am or late pm EDT to accommodate those of us in a different time zone.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

Seeing their feedback incorporated into a metrics and a technology platform will excite people, that their voices are being heard and accounted for in tourism forums. Ultimately, however, we need to prove in action that we are really improving the community in relation to water, waste, energy, food and social enterprise.

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