Why You Should Book your Stay at an Ecolodge

The world is quickly embracing the need to have sustainable tourism businesses. Tourism can be seen as an economic activity that produces a range of positive and negative impacts. Globally, consumers are becoming much more sophisticated and are increasingly making ethical choices about some of their tourism purchases. Ecotourism is really an issue of how best to encourage tourism while minimizing impact at the destination and how the economic and natural environment of the people living at these destinations are promoted and consumed. Ecotourism represents a low-cost product development opportunities for destinations and how ecological and cultural assets are one of the few truly unique features at destinations that give them a competitive advantage.

Photo Credits – Saruni Samburu

Ecotourism In Africa was championed by the emergence of many successful community-based tourism enterprise models in Eastern and Southern Africa which have contributed to the drastic improvement in conservation of wildlife and other natural resources through direct involvement of local people in tourism. According to Dr. Martha Honey by the 1990s, no other country was earning as much as Kenya from wildlife tourism and Kenya was later being hailed as the ‘world’s foremost ecotourism attraction’. From then, ecotourism principles have been increasingly adopted as a business practice by many ecolodges in Kenya. It is important to understand what is an ecolodge and how to differentiate them from traditional nature lodges and hotels.

Satao Elerai

An ecolodge is a tourist accommodation facility that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the environment and promote the welfare of the local people. However, Hitesh Mehta, a guru on ecolodges describes it as ‘a 5-75 room low-impact nature based financially sustainable accommodation facility that helps protect sensitive neighboring areas; involves and helps benefits local communities; offers tourists an interpretative and interactive participatory experience; provides a spiritual communion with nature and culture and is planned, designed, constructed and operated in an environmentally and socially sensitive manner’. For a tourism facility to be dubbed as an ecolodge, it should:

  • Conserves the surrounding environment, both natural and cultural

  • Have minimal impact on the natural surroundings during construction

  • Fit into its specific physical and cultural contexts though careful attention to form, landscaping, colour, as well as the use of localized architecture

  • Use alternative, sustainable means of water acquisition and reduces water consumption

  • Provide careful handing and disposal of solid waste and sewage

  • Meets is energy needs though passive design and combines these with their modern counterparts for greater sustainability

  • Endeavors to work together with the local community

  • Offers interpretative programs to educate both its employs and tourists about the surrounding natural and cultural environments

  • Contribute to sustainable local development through research programs

Ecotourism Kenya is a business membership organization that aims to be a centre of reference in development of standards for responsible tourism practice, including promoting best practices, codes for operators and tourists and encouraging conservation of natural resources.

According to Ecotourism Kenya, the Eco-rating certification scheme is a sustainable tourism certification program that aims to promote responsible tourism in Kenya. Launched in 2002 by Ecotourism Kenya in cooperation with tourism stakeholders in Kenya, the program’s focus is to recognise best practices in environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment among tourism accommodation facilities by awarding qualified applicants assessed under the scheme with a Bronze, Silver or Gold eco-rating certification based on their performance.

As outlined by Ecotourism Kenya, the ecorating certification process considers;

  • The accommodation facility commitment towards protecting, conserving and investing in the environment;

  • The measures the facility is using in reducing, reusing and recycling waste;

  • how the accommodation facility is using the available resources such as land, water, energy, culture responsibly.

  • The facility’s level commitment in investing in people that is. employees and local population and how they are empowering the local people.

  • If the facility embraces fair and favorable business practices and workplace policies

  • the level of engagement and commitment towards supporting the local economy through trade linkages with local communities.

  • How well the facility had adopted and communicates responsible tourism education

The Eco-Rating Certification Levels:

Bronze Eco-Rating is the entry level, and is awarded to facilities that demonstrate awareness of and commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.

Silver Eco-rating is an intermediary level that is awarded to facilities that demonstrate innovation and progress towards achieving excellence in environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment.

Gold Eco-rating is the highest level of certification. It indicates that a facility has outstanding best practices in responsible resource use, environmental conservation and socio-economic investment.

The general atmosphere of ecolodges is characterized by their friendly, relaxed, flexible and educational environment. The design of an ecolodge and the activities provided within the facility should then encourage close interaction with the natural environment. Its smart to be responsible, book at a certified accommodation facility and more so an ecolodge. The full list of ecorated facilities in Kenya can be viewed HERE.

Contact us via info@beadsafariscollection.co.ke for your next safari and accommodation booking at a certified ecolodge.