From :

7 February 2013

Elephant encounter

Rob Davidson’s article; ‘What does generation Y want from Conferences‘ highlights the great concern this generation has for ‘eventing with a conscience’. Much is written these days about both positive and negative impact tourism can have on a destination, particularly one as raw and environmentally sensitive as developing Africa. There is no question that long haul travel can have a negative impact on the environment, but as the Event ROI Institute argues ‘if we have a negative impact on environment we should make sure to maximize the positive impact we have on people and other stakeholders’. Safeguarding the environment is important for sustainability of any area and it is encouraging to learn that Governments and organizations have taken guardianship of the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site so seriously that they commissioned a Strategic Impact Assessment. In balance one thinks that the increased awareness and investment in infrastructure resulting from tourism is in itself a positive offset. In a sense one could argue that tourism can function as an economic incentive for governments to conserve natural habitats. As is certainly the case in Victoria Falls.

Sustainable opportunities abound

As the destination develops in a sustainable way new activities emerge offering fun opportunities for visitors while at the same time taking pressure off the more traditional (less eco friendly) safari pursuits. Try walking safaris, elephant back safaris, even cycling or horseback safaris. An undisputable favorite is the interaction with elephants where visitors get to touch and feed these gentle giants. More serious is ‘Elephanting’; getting right up close and personal with these fascinating animals in the wild enabling guests to learn more about their behavior, their complex social structure and their communication skills. 

For a serious adrenalin rush introduce bungee jumping above the gorge, ‘flying’ an ultra light float plane, canoeing or introducing the group to the mighty river in an inflatable raft. The river in the gorges below the Victoria Falls, classified as a Grade 5 river, is the way to go. Did you know the Zambezi River is the biggest commercially run white water in the world?

Meetings & Conferences

Also the meeting professional will be happy here. From soft eco friendly meetings to complete eco conferences where you have the opportunity to select your own venue and allow mother nature herself to provide you with sound and light. If you still need to use technical appliances there is the aid of fossil fuel generated energy.

Setting meeting Africa

Impactful experiences

But like the Generation Y, many visitors to Victoria Falls want to include experiences that are somehow more worthwhile and mindful of the environment or local communities. This is where local contacts and knowledge about the area are essential. For example to raise funds to assist the local village community in reclaiming their access road or to enable a school to replace the roof. To celebrate the handing over of the funds and give the delegates an opportunity to learn more about the school and the community a fully interactive tour of the area can be set up. The group splits into teams joined by an equal number of children from the school and participates in children games and daily village tasks. They learn about daily routines like grinding the maize, making fishing traps and reeding mats. Seeing the actual preparation of the day’s main meal can conclude the experience.

On a lighter note, what would a visit to Africa be without a boogie?  Experience the true spirit of Africa and sing and dance with the African people. Each dance or movement symbolizes an event or happening within the clan. Call it communication on a different level!

dancing in Africa

Altogether a unique opportunity to create awareness and have a positive impact. In return the delegates leave with an unforgettable experience in mind and the knowledge that they have ‘given back’.

Check your suppliers

Another way organizers can exercise CSR is to look closely at suppliers including their policies. One doesn’t have to scratch too far beneath a company’s surface like Sun International Zambia to appreciate the impressive extent of their involvement in their community.

As you notice by now, Africa and Vic Falls in particular has definitely more to offer than safari alone!

Footnote; special thanks to Luci Buckland of Into Africa, Sun International Zambia and Cansaf (photos)