Stay Another Day

Stay Another Day

Cambodia
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The Mekong region of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos offers everything a traveler could want - historic temples, rich culture, stunning landscape, colorful local markets and fantastic food to suit any budget. Yet, despite the influx of tourists in recent years, very little of the profits trickle down to the wider community, and few tourists stay more than a few days and venture beyond the temples. Stay Another Day is a unique project linking tourism businesses and socially responsible organizations to provide travelers with the best of what tourism has to offer - a chance to really get to know the countries they are visiting, and the knowledge that they are doing some good for the local destination.

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

No. 70 Norodom Boulevard

City

Phnom Penh

State/Province

Phonom Penh

Postal/Zip Code
Country
Year innovation began

2006

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and benefit to tourists

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Geographic location

Multiple locations.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Cross-cultural myopia

Main insight addressed

Incorporate sustainable practices

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

To encourage tourists to stay longer, spend more locally and experience the destination whilst helping to sustain its social, cultural and environmental assets.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

When visiting developing countries, travelers are conscious that they are privileged visitors, and in addition to visiting the traditional tourism assets (temple, beach, treks), they often want to understand the challenges facing local people and their destination. “Stay Another Day Initiative” (SADI) offers a greater “sense of place” and an opportunity for unique insight into the destination. It targets independent travelers interested in having a broader experience, especially to get an insight in recent post conflict countries. It brings together products for tourists to visit or support that they would not find in traditional guidebooks. These are organizations that highlight authentic cultural activities, who are committed to sustaining fragile natural assets or support the poorest / marginalized people in a community. Supporting these organizations can be a way to ‘give a little back’ to the destination. The aim is a win-win-win situation between industry, tourists and community, whereby the net benefit of tourism is greater for the destination. In addition to any direct benefits (sales, donations), if tourists have a rich experience they are more likely to refer it to others, which generates longer term sustainability for the industry.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

Our project is innovative by making sustainable tourism a practical reality in two key ways: firstly addressing sector constraints such as short length of stay and low average spend and return visits, and secondly increasing the direct benefits reaching the disadvantaged. To address the first, SADI has added to the tourism products by developing unique country guides for Cambodia and Laos. These feature non-governmental organizations and socially
responsible businesses who are actively working to improve the local destination. Addressing the second, these organizations typically target the least advantaged people or fragile assets. Prior to the project they were typically not linked to the tourism sector (businesses or tourists), and are often struggling with funding. IFC's role has been to facilitate the links between these actors, thus harnessing the power of the tourism industry to actively support the local destination. The guides complement existing international and local tourism guides, and for many of these organizations the project is now the source of 30-40% of visitors.

For the industry the innovation is a booklet and website as a resource to help them offer a better product in the destination. SADI was initially launched in Siem Reap and expanded across Cambodia and Laos based on market demand. For tourists, this is a unique way to learn more about the country, its culture and challenges and provides ways to interact and actively support good causes. Through tourism type services from the organizations (tours to a visitor centre, a shop selling crafts made by disabled women), they can support these projects (a small donation or purchase). We also have a website and have launched an exhibition in Luang Prabang as an introduction to the people, environment and culture assets. We have also conducted workshops training small and medium accommodation providers to be environmentally-friendly and learn the values of sustainable tourism.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

SADI has the potential to be replicated around the world if partnered with a global foundation or INGO. We are currently evaluating these options. Promotion within tourism industry networks as well as tourism ministries in other countries would be beneficial, together with developing stronger linkages with the mainstream tourism industry. We have seen great support from the public and increasing awareness about the concept and reasoning behind SADI, but we have not yet actively promoted the concept and its potential widely.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Increase the net benefits of tourism by encouraging the industry to promote sustainable tourism practices & offer tourists a richer experience, resulting in more tourist dollars benefiting communities

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

SADI has expanded and evolved based on positive feedback from the industry, partners and tourists. The project gathers regular qualitative and quantitative data on the impacts it is making on both traveler experience and partner initiatives. Data gathered each quarter in Cambodia and Laos shows that partners have seen many more visitors and donations/sales since SADI was launched. Many travelers cite “Stay Another Day” as the reason they visit the initiatives. We receive regular feedback from travelers via the website who have experienced a memorable trip, and some are eager to replicate the concept in their home countries. The quantitative data on the direct impact actually becomes harder to attribute once mainstream guidebooks started to feature the same organizations, e.g. the LUXE guide in Laos recommends SADI. However, we see this as success as the ultimate winners are the local communities and organizations who are working to sustain local culture, environment, heritage and aesthetics. Our approach minimizes negative impacts by educating and informing travelers and initiatives on the importance of sustainable practices and responsible traveler tips which are featured in the country specific guidebooks. In addition, it inherently improves direct benefits to local communities, helping to offset some negative impacts that inevitably come with large number of tourists. Only partners that actively want to link to tourists are included so there are no real direct negative impacts.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Stay Another Day promotes traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale by providing them with the best of what tourism has to offer - the chance to truly get to know the country they are visiting. By visiting the initiatives featured in the booklets, travelers will experience the destination in a more meaningful way, learning the issues and challenges facing the country and getting to know the local culture and society in a way that is impossible for normal guided tours to provide. In addition, traveler satisfaction comes from the knowledge that they are doing some good for the local destination, whether it's by visiting restaurants training disadvantaged youths, shops employing disabled artisans or supporting the revival of traditional culture and arts. By encouraging travelers to venture beyond the well-trodden path and giving them a reason and meaning to do so, Stay Another Day enhances the travelers' experience.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Local initiatives, businesses and organizations that are giving back to the community are an integral part of Stay Another Day. We assist in marketing the initiatives through the booklets, the website and media coverage, and trade fair style events to connect the industry players – all activities for which most lack skills and resources. Partner feedback has been very positive and several other organizations now approach us to join. The industry has a richer product to offer abroad, with some tour operators translating the booklets into other languages for their staff. The wider community has benefited in many ways, from increased funding to organizations (e.g. those providing prosthetic limbs to landmine victims). Local residents see SADI as promoting a positive destination brand to travelers who want to preserve the local culture and landscape – in Cambodia this helps to offset stereotypes of Khmer Rouge, landmines and sex tourism.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

Stay Another Day booklets feature information on responsible tourism that is universally applicable as well as localized tips on becoming a better traveler (for example, how to behave at Angkor Wat for the Cambodia booklet and during the daily alms giving round for the Laos booklet). Short profiles of the partners increase tourist awareness. For local residents, witnessing the increase in the number of visitors/ supporters who care about sustainability is a convincing way to learn about the value of their cultural and natural heritage, and see that doing good business makes good business sense.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Stay Another Day is currently entering the second year, and is moving towards financial sustainability. As a project we are looking at solutions to allow the project to grow, develop and live on once the current phase is finished. We are looking for regional or global partners to help develop this project to its full potential. The potential demand is limitless - the model can be replicated in any country. Which tourism industry does not want tourists to stay longer and spend more money locally? Our initial feedback from the featured initiatives, travelers, tour companies and national tourism bodies has been overwhelmingly positive. Our challenge is finding an organization that can understand the global potential, yet has access to local knowledge to ensure due diligence on the ground. Our goal is to replicate in many developing countries making sustainable tourism practical and not just a buzzword.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Stay Another Day has so far been financed and supported by the International Finance Corporation with marketing support from the German Technical Cooperation in Cambodia. Income generated from contributions made by initiatives in the booklet funds about half the printing costs for booklets. Much of the development and marketing has been subsidized whilst we evolved and tested the concept. In the future if organizations paid a market rate for booklet space the project could be self-financing. We believe we can now make a good case for this based on impact.

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

We believe Stay Another Day has a great potential for expansion. It is applicable and could easily be replicated in many countries, especially developing ones. By linking tourism businesses and socially responsible organizations with travelers, it is evident that both can benefit. Our plan is to find one or more strategic partnerships with a global foundation and/or major tourism players operating in multiple countries. It could even be adopted as a CSR initiative of a multinational operating in developing countries e.g. oil company, financial institution etc. We are actively looking to explore these options to develop and grow the initiative from a regional one to a global one. At a minimum there is excellent potential for ongoing funding from development organizations working in countries or destinations where tourism is important.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The main barrier we have encountered so far is getting our message to tourists before they arrive in the country so that they can plan in advance to stay longer. We have excellent local coverage within Laos and Cambodia but as many travelers are on a fixed itinerary and unable to extend their stay in-country. We are increasing our work with tour companies to promote Stay Another Day initiatives featured in their itineraries, but with a limited marketing budget and the lack of a global partner in the tourism industry we are currently struggling to get the Stay Another Day name to travelers before they arrive. One challenge is getting partners to gather data needed to show the impact – their business disciplines are often very basic, so whilst they are confident in the positive impact it is hard to collect hard data to prove it. Also our Program mandate is currently the Mekong, so we have only covered Cambodia and Laos and some Vietnam to date. Our major barrier has been a lack of resources (time and money) to really disseminate the project widely to consider future replication and partnership options.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

Stay Another Day originated as a pilot project in Siem Reap in early 2006, when visitors' length of stay was only 2.8 days in a major tourist destination with serious environmental and social sustainability issues. Most travelers spend the days seeing the splendor of Angkor temples and leave, learning very little about the real Cambodia. They did not see any reason to stay longer or know how to engage in the real Cambodia. Our initial booklet was "Things to do besides the temples", and our aim was to show travelers that Siem Reap has more to offer, that there are great reasons to stay longer and spend more money locally. When we took this to Laos, the industry and organizations immediately confirmed the gap in the market and requested we expand. The project has grown organically to cover Cambodia, Laos and to a lesser extent, Vietnam. In 2007, we published over 70,000 copies of the two booklets. Our 2008 editions of the booklets, launched in February, are thicker and feature nearly 90 initiatives in the two countries with an initial print run of between 40,000 to 50,000 copies each. It is now increasingly recognized by international press and guidebooks.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Thy Hourn is the Tourism Project Officer with IFC Mekong. He has lived and worked in the region and with the organization since 2002. Hourn's current primary role is managing and implementing a number of Tourism projects in Cambodia but his extensive experience include working to build the capacities of SMEs in Cambodia. Hourn has been integral in the Stay Another Day initiative, having developed and refined the concept of the project with the tourism team and supervised the implementation of the projects, working with partners including Angkor Hospital for Children, Cambodia Living Arts and Phare Ponleu Selpak from his hometown Battambang. Hourn is a passionate advocate of sustainable tourism and is eager to develop the concept further in Cambodia so that the country's natural and cultural wonders will still be around when his three-year-old daughter to enjoy when she grows up.

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The Mekong region of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos offers everything a traveler could want - historic temples, rich culture, stunning landscape, colorful local markets and fantastic food to suit any budget. Yet, despite the influx of tourists in recent years, very little of the profits trickle down to the wider community, and few tourists stay more than a few days and venture beyond the temples. Stay Another Day is a unique project linking tourism businesses and socially responsible organizations to provide travelers with the best of what tourism has to offer - a chance to really get to know the countries they are visiting, and the knowledge that they are doing some good for the local destination.