Reinvention to remain relevant has been the name of the game for all of us over the past couple of years. At FTT, we've taken this very seriously and focused on our use of online platforms and digital technology to improve our capacity to support more tourism businesses to do tourism the Fair Trade, responsible way.
The relaunch of the Fair Trade Tourism website in July last year was the first big step in this direction. Flagged by our clients as what mattered most to them, we set it as our top priority. The high impact visuals now feature FTT-certified businesses in a more dynamic way that speaks to the growing travel demand to connect with people and nature, to give back, and to have more meaningful travel experiences in general.
The second big step was updating FTT's standard. Global best practice suggests that a sustainability standard should be revised at least every three years so we took advantage of the 'quieter' times and got stuck into this technical task. No small undertaking, the revision took a number of months to conclude but in April 2022 we were pleased to announce a new, steamlined standard that embraces global tourism impacts and local development priorities. The overview of the 2022 FTT Standard is made available on our website.
And now... we're taking the third and final (for now) big step...
After extensive research and tapping into our strong global partnerships to find the best solution available in the digital space, we are now able to offer business development support and (soon) audits for accommodation, activities, attractions, restaurants, volunteer tourism, and community tours through a highly efficient and user friendly online platform! It is a system that has been tried and tested for the past decade+ and is being used by nearly a dozen sustainability certification programmes worldwide. Accessing digital solutions such as this new platform will enable FTT to operate more efficiently and effectively, giving us the opportunity to consolidate the ± 20 years of learning into a centralised portal to benefit and support tourism businesses throughout the region.
The platform supports the 'phases' of FTT affiliation as well as providing the option to generate management and reporting tools to support internal and external communication:
- action planning
Registration is now available on our new online platform!! Basic information is requested for new business registrations. After providing these details, FTT will contact you to confirm the applicable annual membership fee and any additional information before proceeding.
Membership opens the entire platform functionality with step-by-step guidance on each FTT criterion, complete with interpretation / explanation, templates, samples, and other resources (as applicable). The overview looks like this, with each section expanding to display the relevant criteria within that section of the standard:
Within each section, individual criteria are detailed much like the 'green procurement' example below, with complete guidance on what is expected and ideas for how you might devise implementation solutions for your business context; an internal 'remarks' function in case you're unsure of something; and a 'best practices' section where information about suppliers and service providers that are recommended by others in the FTT "family" can be shared. It is a space that will be available to all other businesses through their respective log-ins, so a really efficient and focused way to network specific solutions with each other.
Creating an action plan to ensure you are always improving is made simple though the 'action plan' functionality. Where you discover that you would like to take additional steps on your Fair Trade Tourism journey , or are inspired by a new idea that you discover, the system enables you to create a comprehensive action plan to focus these future efforts.
Delegate the action to a team member, allocate resources, and set time frames. A colated report will be generated, which can be accessed by team members who are registered on your online profile. You can also download a version to share through your internal communication channels. (Or you can print the action plan, but we know you're trying to reduce your paper consumption... 😉)
Tourism businesses that decide they would like to be certified by Fair Trade Tourism can also opt for that through the very same system. An independent auditor will be assigned to verify the contents of your report through, e.g., reviewing uploaded documentation, interviewing staff, observing how you do things in your operations, etc.
If all mandatory criteria and 75% of the general criteria are being implemented, then you will be awarded the prestigious, globally recognised status of "FTT-certified".
(Audits take place every three years and incur an additional fee, which is based on the size and complexity of your business.)
An audit report is generated once a business completes an independent FTT audit. This provides an overview of the audit findings, including strengths as well areas a business may wish to focus on going forward. This can be an extremely useful tool for internal communication and ongoing improvement.
In addition, the system is able to generate a high level sustainability report, which provides a version of your audit results that you may wish to share with stakeholders, business partners, or the public (it's entirely up to you).
Please spread the word to your nearest and dearest if they have been waiting to join the FTT Family.
The time is now to grow the movement to make tourism more inclusive and create more resilient destinations!