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Phone: +27 (0) 28 3841774 Fax: +27 (0) 28 3841774 Address: PO Box 547, Gansbaai, 7220, South Africa E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.whitesharkprojects.co.za Reg No: CK/01091/23 VAT No: 4240195406 POLICY ON RESPONSIBLE TOURISM Responsible Tourism is a tourism management strategy embracing planning, management, product development and marketing to bring about positive economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts. For tourism operators it is about providing more rewarding holiday experiences for guests whilst enabling local communities to enjoy a better quality of life and conserving the natural environment. (Source: Responsible Tourism Handbook, 2002, South Africa) White Shark Projects CC was established in 1989. It is a world-leading organisation that focuses on the conservation of great white sharks through responsible tourism and research. We are involved in conservation, film, education, diving and viewing. In 1991, White Shark Projects was instrumental in getting the great white shark protected under South African law. At the time, the white shark population was on the verge of extinction. Yet now we can enjoy the presence of this magnificent animal in South African waters. With offices in Kleinbaai (Gansbaai) and the Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, White Shark Projects provides superior great white shark viewing and cage diving to domestic and international tourists. White Shark Projects aligns service delivery, conservation, education and research around one of the greatest predatory forces of the seas. The expectations of clients are met by excellent customer service, good quality information, reasonable rates and operational efficiency. Crew and staff are distinguished by a functional and technical expertise combined with hands-on experience that ensures effective and professional service. Mission Statement 'We are humbled by the privilege of interacting with one of the earth’s greatest predators. Working face to face with this rare species, and causing no harm, we are committed to furthering its chances of survival. Everything we do, we aim to do in harmony with, and for the betterment of, our natural and social environment.' Economic and Social Responsibility 1. Locally derived and answerable • White Shark Projects CC (WSP) is owned by three South African women. • All its staff are South African. • WSP is a full member of Cape Town Tourism, Cape Town Information Centre, Gansbaai Tourism Bureau, South African Tourism Services Association and SKAL International. • A Responsible Tourism Code of Conduct is clearly displayed in our office. 2. Sustainable employment • WSP provides 17 sustainable jobs. Sustainable employment in these historically impoverished communities is key to empowering local people towards a quality of life that can be sustained while the natural environment is conserved. • The majority of our 17 staff members are from the previously disadvantaged communities of Blompark and Masakhane in the Gansbaai area. 3. Education, training and personal development • Our staff is professionally qualified and show a passion for their work. They are encouraged to attend appropriate training programmes. These include customer service, food preparation, tour guiding, drivers licensing, PDP licensing, first aid, pre-sea training, skippers’ ticket training, and English communication skills. Skills training programmes are regularly discussed with the local Gansbaai Tourism Bureau and Gansbaai Chamber of Commerce. • Ninety percent of our staff is fluent in English. One employee is enrolled for his Western Cape ABET Model of Learning – also to complete his Grade 9 School Year and improve his English communications skills. • All members of our boat crew have completed first aid training – and so have two other members of our lodge staff. A first aid kit is available in the 'White Shark Lodge' to clients and staff. • Our employees have been promoted to positions such as Administrative Clerk & Reservations Manager, Assistant-manager; Hostess; dive master; and tour guide. The company has the first qualified black skipper in the shark diving & viewing industry. 4. Ethical employers • Wages are linked to position and experience and are above average for the area. Staff members receive performance and service-linked bonuses every 6 months. • We hold regular staff meetings to ensure employee needs are met. Staff are encouraged to eat regularly and healthily. We encourage HIV/AIDS awareness through clearly displayed literature in the staff room. 5. Local economic responsibility • Products and supplies are purchased locally. These include food, building and boat materials, boat repairs and photographic and stationary requirements. • White Shark Projects supports local Masakhane tour guide company, 'Thobeka’s Tours'. WSP helped the tour guide formulate her business plan for township tours and to have the company registered. We actively promote the business. • WSP also has reciprocal working relationships with accommodation establishments & restaurants in the Gansbaai area. • WSP has also working relationships with the Overstrand Municipality, the Gansbaai Chamber of Commerce and local businesses / suppliers. 6. Community projects • We regularly visit the schools of Masakhane where we talk about health, caring for our environment, and the value of protecting it. We learn about natural tourist attractions in the area and the importance of caring for them. • We teach the children the importance of recycling. This message is supported by our 'White Shark Projects Swop Shop' which we've set up in the heart of the Masakhane community. Children collect recyclable litter from the streets and their community and bring it to the 'shop' where they earn points for it. They use these points to 'buy' much needed school stationary or simple clothes. This project promotes recycling, environmental awareness, and provides for some of the children's basic needs. • The Swop Shop has been adopted by local tour guide, Thobeka Vivashe, who supervises the process. Through this reciprocity, visitors from far and wide learn the value of environmental and social commitment. • The White Shark Projects Annual Charity Golf Day is a well supported fund raiser – and is another way we help improve the quality of life of local people. Funds are distributed amongst local old-age centres. • WSP is involved in youth support initiatives in the poorer communities of Gansbaai. WSP staff member, Abraham Newman, is on the governing body of the Ikamva Youth Development and Computer Centre in Blompark, Gansbaai. WSP helps with fund raising and educational talks and outings. • We host visits from the children of Masakhane and take them on educational excursions. These have included trips to Cape Town to visit Robben Island, the Waterfront and more. • Our latest initiative is in Blompark where we will 'adopt' the Grade 1 class at the Gansbaai Primary Schools. There will be educational talks, outings, clean-up campaigns, and an introduction to our agents and visitors. The launch of this new initiative is on World Tourism Day, 27 September 2008. 7. Raising awareness and culture sharing • Through the White Shark Projects Volunteer Programme our volunteers (from all over the globe) and locals are introduced to a different and enriching cultural experience. This is achieved through their involvement in our community projects outlined above. • There is further culture sharing when our staff members talk to clients about their culture, traditions and the town of Gansbaai. • Our close relationship with local Masakhane tour guide company, 'Thobeka’s Tours' is another way in which we introduce tourists to our local culture and social environment. • We raise client awareness of our social development initiatives and research programmes through our website and brochure. Environmental Responsibility 1. Environmental education • There is a strong educational imperative to our diving and viewing trips. Our knowledgeable crew share information and insights to raise people's awareness of the need to conserve the great white and its environment. • Through our school education programme we encourage children to take care of their natural and social environments. This is reinforced through our White Shark Projects Recycle Swop Shop where we encourage the children to clean up their social environment while also teaching awareness of the natural environment. • On the Volunteer Programme students learn about great white shark biology, research, behaviour, conservation, changing attitudes, shark attacks, basic seamanship, underwater filming, still photography and shark tourism. We trust that they will apply this knowledge to further conservation in many and varied ways. • We have the experience, equipment, staff and knowledge to facilitate the successful filming of great white sharks. White Shark Projects has hosted film crews such as the BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery. We support attempts to promote the conservation of the great white shark on film and are thrilled that the footage is watched by millions of viewers worldwide. • We publish four newsletters annually. These are distributed free to subscribers and visitors. They share updates on company news, conservation initiatives and social development programmes. • White Shark Projects attends international and local festivals, trade fares and expos. Our educational display is a big drawcard and an effective way to share our message of conservation and social upliftment. 2. Working in our marine environment • Our experienced skippers handle the sharks with care to ensure they are not harmed or unduly disturbed. • Our boat has specially designed motors that lift completely out of the water so that the propellers do not harm the sharks. • We use only natural fish products when chumming (luring sharks to the boat). • As a Great White Shark Permit Holder, we operate to strict boundaries as laid down by the South African government. • We only take 17 passengers maximum to ensure client comfort. • The boat is surveyed annually by Marine & Coastal Management. 3. Research and conservation • The Tour guide or Dive Master collects daily data on the size, sex, scar markings and times of shark sightings. The data is forwarded to Marine & Coastal Management. • White Shark Projects is a member of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation. There is a valuable exchange of information between us. • WSP is also a member of the SA Shark Conservancy and contributes extensively to this conservation, reservation and cooperative partnerships building network. • We are involved in fin-printing. This is a photographic method used to catalogue and identify individual great white sharks. The sequence of notches on the dorsal fin of every shark is as unique as a human finger print. The dorsal fin can therefore be used as a primary characteristic for identifying great white sharks. This method is used to identify most, if not all, of our short term visitors to Gansbaai. Secondary characteristics like fin size, shape and body colour are also used to complement the dorsal fin IDs. The aim is to obtain a population estimate and to investigate population dynamics. 4. Practising what we preach • Our energy use at White Shark Lodge is closely monitored via our municipal account. • Staff is educated on the careful use of water and we follow water friendly practices. For example, we re-use waste water to irrigate our lawns and the Lodge offers showers instead of baths. • We have a trash bin on the boat so that waste is not thrown overboard. In the Lodge, waste is separated and then recycled at the Overstrand Recycling Plant. • We use computer technology and emails to reduce our use of paper. • WSP has bought a shuttle bus as a means of transporting clients – and by that the consumption of fossil fuels are reduced. • WSP also bought 4 of their male employees bicycles to get to and from work. • Clothing and towels are being washed in cold water. • We use the sun to dry towels. • We only use local suppliers in the Gansbaai Area. Awards • White Shark Projects received the International Eco-Tourism Award in 1994 from SKAL International in the category 'Educational Programmes'. • The White Shark Projects Recycle Swop Shop was a finalist in the Overstrand Mayor's Environmental and Conservation Awards in 2008. Our challenge is to sustain a balance between the needs of the traveller and those of our region. By joining White Shark Projects you contribute directly to the conservation of the natural environment and the economic growth of the local communities within which we operate. The aim is to create and sustain an intercultural dialogue that is of benefit to all. For White Shark Projects, responsible tourism means sharing South Africa’s natural and cultural riches, while contributing positively to the preservation and growth of the communities and environments we operate in. Our policy is one of mutual respect: we ensure value for money and professionalism in our relationship with visitors, while remaining cognizant of the needs of locals. South Africa’s tourism industry is exploding, and we believe that those involved should take responsibility for the development and preservation of the communities and environments on which the business relies. At White Shark Projects, we consider it our duty to foster sustainable job creation, social upliftment and ecological awareness through active support. To this end, local communities and environmental initiatives are involved in and supported by White Shark Projects. Our unique hands-on workshops offer a platform for interaction with locals, while simultaneously providing economic benefit to the hosting community. Ultimately, our aim is to encourage a two-way learning experience. Visitors are furnished with a richer, more representative picture of South Africa, and locals are left with a heightened sense of the importance and value of their own cultural and natural heritage. Only through a continually bolstered partnership will we ensure that this incomparable legacy will be preserved for future generations of South Africans and visitors. White Shark Projects – a responsible tourism operation – is clearly creating better and more experiences for visitors and residents alike.
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