Matava – Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort

Matava – Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort

Vunisea, Fiji
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Matava is the genuine eco-adventure lodge, beautifully set off the beaten track, minutes from the Great Astrolabe Reef. Our intimate resort offers comfortable bures, outstanding local cuisine and a full range of adventure and cultural activities. No roads, solar power, low carbon footprint make Matava the ideal and environmentally responsible location to relax and unwind. Matava is committed to environmentally, culturally and socially responsible travel. We aim to operate in a way that conserves the areas we visit and bring positive benefits to local communities. Alternative energy, organic farming, responsible waste management, strict environmentally conscious building codes, voluntary ...

About You
Contact Information
Title

Mr.

First name

Stuart

Last name

Gow

Your job title

Resort Director

Name of your organization

Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort

Organization type

Eco tourism resort

Annual budget/currency

F$900,000

Mailing address

PO Box 63, Vunisea, Kadavu

Telephone number

679-333-6222

Postal/Zip Code

00000

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

Matava

City

Vunisea

State/Province

Kadavu

Postal/Zip Code
Country
Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and educational benefit to tourists , Quality of benefit to residents for the destination , Quality of tourism management by destination leadership , Quality of stewardship of the destination.

Organization size

Small (1 to 100 employees)

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began

2000

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Living culture, Nature, Adventure, General tourism, Other.

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Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Provide memorable experiences while simultaneously preserving the natural environment and contributing to local communities we operate in through awareness building.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Matava is the genuine eco-adventure lodge, beautifully set off the beaten track, minutes from the Great Astrolabe Reef. Our intimate resort offers comfortable bures, outstanding local cuisine and a full range of adventure and cultural activities. No roads, solar power, low carbon footprint make Matava the ideal and environmentally responsible location to relax and unwind. Matava is committed to environmentally, culturally and socially responsible travel. We aim to operate in a way that conserves the areas we visit and bring positive benefits to local communities. Alternative energy, organic farming, responsible waste management, strict environmentally conscious building codes, voluntary marine protected areas, responsible diving policies, employing and training locals are only a few methods of achieving our goal to minimize our negative impact as well as support local communities. We also strive to keep Fiji Fiji through traditional Fijian designs. The visual appearance of the resort resembles a traditional village with the Main Bure Complex; the “Bure Levu”, highlighting the culture and lifestyle. The resort would not be complete without the local staff. They enjoy interacting with visitors, teaching them local traditions such as kava rituals, language and history.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Matava began with the vision to upgrade a backpacker property into an accredited 3 start resort while ‘Keeping Fiji Fiji”. Matava used locally produced furniture with a Fijian modern flare. All mahogany furniture is made in Fiji with Fiji Mahogany, further supporting local industry. This transformation and expansion has provided more employment and further hospitality/tourism training for the local populace in Kadavu. Matava not only transformed a backpacker area into a resort and provided job opportunities, but also supports the surrounding communities by supporting many aid, development and conservation projects in the areas through The Matava Foundation. Guests are always invited to contribute to the Foundation. Matava Resort is also supporting the efforts of including a class on marine and terrestrial conservation and sustainable resource management into the Fiji school curriculum. The new class began trialing in all Kadavu Island schools in 2008. If deemed successful, it will become part of the Fiji National Curriculum. Implementation of Voluntary Marine Reserves is another action taken upon Matava in collaboration with local villages. This provides villages with income and incentive to continue management of the voluntary MPA’s while preserving the environment and providing the fish with a sanctuary to breed.

Impact
Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Success in providing exceptional experiences to the visitors drives success in our other initiatives. With this we were able to support and provide education, training and jobs for local communities as well as educate visitors through hand guides and our direct actions. Through cooperation with locals we implemented voluntary MPA’s thus preserving the coral reefs, providing a breeding sanctuary for fish as well as benefiting the communities involved in the MPA management has proven to be successful. Local people have previously often fishes in the same locations leading to coral degradation simultaneously destroying natural habitats for fish leading to a drop in fish quantities thus directly affecting local lives. According to the locals fish counts have gone up. Scientist are also often guests providing us with data on the environment, life quality of locals, and local satisfaction. Local improvement is all signs of success and improvements and can be signals for needed change if negative signs are seen. Our vision and dedication has recently earned Matava the PADI Asia Pacific Member Awards 2009 in the category Project AWARE Marine Environmental Award 2009.

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

The community has benefited through employment, training and education. We use locally owned infrastructure for accommodation and transport, are committed to spreading the financial benefits amongst local people and operators. We choose locally owned accommodation where available and local restaurants and markets for dining, retaining revenue in local communities provide employment and leadership opportunities for local people. We respect local customs and culture. We also provide support to organizations and local communities around Matava as well as communities visited by Matava expeditions and adventures.

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

We offer fun enjoyable trips to guests. Small groups allow guests to experience cultures first hand through interaction with locals offering greater opportunity for cross- cultural understanding. A variety of activities are available to the guests; scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, kayaking as well as opportunities to trek, visit local villages, bird watch or simply relax and unwind. Trips to local villages are led by locals themselves giving a true experience. Local staff enjoys interacting with visitors, playing matches and teaching them local traditions such as kava rituals, language and history.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Our guests are issued clear guidelines on responsible tourism and are encouraged to buy local crafts and support local skills, never to buy products that exploit wildlife or the harm the habitat. We employ local crew and guides to aid in guests' understanding of local culture and etiquette, and guests have the opportunity to interact with local people. Implementation of MPA’s has educated locals, continues to educate visitors and results in preserving and improving the environment. All of this is backed up by the actions of our directors and staff in the hope that it will transmit onto our guests.

Sustainability
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.

Matava is a privately owned limited liability companies incorporated in the Fiji Islands. The initiative has been fully funded privately. As such, this can be replicated with the correct investment. As a guide, this size of resort in this kind of remote area would cost about US$2M in initial investment. We run with 10 local full time staff, 15 local part time staff (to spread the income) and 3 ex-pat Directors.

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

Eco resorts are ultimately sustainable. We are glad to be able to say that we succeeded in this and are proud to prove that it is possible for an eco-resort to be financially stable while environmentally conscious and benefiting the community.We fully intend on replicating the resort in other destinations. We are also involved in giving advice to other resorts in the Fiji Islands in regards to ecotourism and sustainability. We have also contributed to a few books on green practices including the Sustainability Guides for Small Resorts in Fiji in conjunction with the University of the South Pacific.

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

The current global financial situation coupled with the remoteness of our resort and the niche market we attract currently posses the biggest barrier in attracting visitors from locations other than New Zealand and Australia. Also, maintaining the resort certified and trying to achieve more has proven to be expensive due to the high fees and other expenses associated with it.

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

The maximum number of bures feasible on the land was decided to be 15 which is well within a low-density low-impact footprint. The final plan of the resort involves expansion of inventory on the ground. A new dining area has been recently built all with local, natural, untreated material. We hope to further include and provide support for the communities and further preserve and improve the surrounding natural environment.
We fully intend on replicating the resort in other destinations. We are also involved in giving advice to other resorts in the Fiji Islands in regards to ecotourism and sustainability. We have also contributed to a few books on green practices including the Sustainability Guides for Small Resorts in Fiji in conjunction with the University of the South Pacific.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

Richard, drawn to water based activities since childhood has been in search for a career where he could combine his passion for diving with work. Matava was purchased in 2002 with the vision to transform the backpacker resort into an eco-haven with benefit to communities and potential to educate visitors through exposure to the natural and cultural environments.

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

The team's combined passion for conservation of the natural environment brought them together to develop Matava as their ideal dream for 'how tourism should be run'. Richard, an English native is a PADI instructor & active in environmental programmes purchased Matava Resort in May 2002. Adrian, Matava Resort Gamefishing director and an IGFA certified captain skippers the resort’s gamefishing vessel while advocating tag & release. Jeanie worked in the corporate world of San Francisco and New York before meeting Richard in a taxi in Nairobi while both were independently traveling through Africa. A diverse team with mutual goals in mind.

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

Matava Resort is a small and intimate getaway designed to blend in with its natural environment. Traditional thatched Fijian bures nestled on the edge of the rainforest look out over the Pacific Ocean and Great Astrolabe barrier reef. It is the resort's policy to minimize our impact on the environment and to promote and support ecologically sound conservation measures in our community. We try doing this in a number of ways:

Solar Power
All lighting in the oceanview accommodation and the main bure is solar powered. The resort office also derives all its power from solar energy. The resort does not operate any main generators, only a small emergency back-up generator for the office should the need arise.

Solar Hot Water
All accommodation is supplied with hot water derived from solar energy. As each of the older style bures are replaced with a new-build oceanview bure, a solar hot water system is installed.

Organic Farming
We minimize the need to import vegetables with associated transportation carbon emissions by maintaining a large organic garden in the resort grounds. In addition, we supply local village farmers with seeds and then purchase the fruit and vegetables from them. Many fruit trees such as banana and papaya are scattered through the grounds.

Waste Management
All rubbish is sorted. Food waste is fed to local pigs. We compost as much waste as possible for the organic farm. Plastic and glass bottles are recycled, as are aluminum cans. Batteries and empty aerosol cans are impossible for us to dispose of and we request that guests take these with them to their home country where suitable methods of disposal are available.

Land Management
We leave areas of land around the resort uncultivated to encourage the growth of native wild flowers and ferns. Part of the resort foreshore is naturally a mangrove shoreline and has been left untouched. Mangroves prevent erosion and provide sanctuary to juvenile fish. No insecticides or herbicides are used on the proper

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

We would benefit from more and stronger partnerships with international ecotourism associations (TIES & ATTA) and more directly with local conservation NGO's (WWF, WCS, PACDF, CI, LMMA) in assisting with community education. Currently our capacity for this is limited by our small staff. Our next step in Eco-Certification is proving to be expensive, not in regards to our ability, but in the application fees and inspection requirements. We are aiming for Green Globe 21 Benchmarking and Certification, but the costs associated with flying in an international inspector and the international application fees are proving prohibitive.