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International Women's Day 2018

March 8th, 2018, by Katherine Chin

Lucille Sive: Empowering Women on International Women’s Day

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

– Gloria Steinem

Now, more than ever, issues facing women are gaining momentum worldwide. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements spurring activism in the US, #PressForProgress – the call for gender parity championed by International Women’s Day 2018 (March 8) – couldn’t come at a better time.


Lucille Sive at eKhaya eKasi Centre in Cape Town


On this #IWD2018, we highlight the efforts of Lucille Sive, CEO of The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) Africa Division, who wholeheartedly endorses gender parity. As one of the first women in the travel industry to break the proverbial “glass ceiling,” Lucille proudly promotes gender parity in her home country, South Africa, by supporting sustainable economic growth for disadvantaged women.

Lucille has spearheaded many sustainable and responsible travel initiatives in Africa, and these are what she is most proud of and holds closest to her heart. Uthando, a unique non-profit organization which raises funds for life-changing community development programs in Cape Town, was personally selected by Lucille to partner with African Travel, Inc. Lucille and African Travel are deeply involved with Uthando projects that help women in the Khayelitsha township gain skills and earn income.

The eKhaya eKasi “Home in the Hood” Art and Education Centre is the setting for two of these projects. A vibrant community resource, eKhaya eKasi offers after-school programs in literacy and performing arts for children, and assists unemployed adults with job skills and entrepreneurship training. Beading and weaving are among the skills women learn here, and the artisanal gifts they make and sell allow them to support their families while improving the health of their local community.


Lulama Sihlabeni, eKhaya eKasi director 


“The women of Africa are so resilient and resourceful,” says Lucille. “I am so proud that we’re able to partner with Uthando on these amazing projects that help foster independence and empowerment in women who are making a difference in their communities. It is truly inspirational.”


Beaded animals made by the women at eKhaya eKasi


Guests on various African Travel itineraries receive beaded rhinos made by the women of eKhaya eKasi as gifts, and starting in summer 2018 African Travel also plans to give blankets made by these women to local orphanages and underprivileged children.

We know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, but through progressive and supportive efforts made by women collectively, we can stay motivated and make positive gains day by day.  

3 Inspiring Sustainability Initiatives in East Africa

February 5th, 2018, by Lucille Sive

3 Inspiring Sustainability Initiatives in East Africa

Visiting Africa is always a thrill: there’s the majestic wildlife safaris, exceptional accommodations, and, of course, the five-star service you receive from some of the friendliest people in the world. My most recent trip to Tanzania and Rwanda featured all of these aspects in abundance. From my luxury safari in Tanzania to my time trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, I came home with unforgettable memories. Equally important to me is how Africa is embracing sustainability and social responsibility to build a better future. Here are three projects in East Africa that are taking sustainability and social responsibility seriously.

Planting trees in Rwanda


1) Shanga | Arusha, Tanzania

During our stay at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, I visited an incredible souvenir shop called Shanga. “Shanga” is the Swahili word for bead and refers to how this business began. In 2007, local resident Saskia Rechsteiner produced some necklaces for a Christmas fair. The necklaces were made from fabric and glass beads and they sold out within hours. Saskia then started receiving orders from safari companies, gift shops and travellers who wanted to import her beautiful creations back home. This sudden demand inspired her to grow her business, but not in the typical way. Saskia reached out to women and men in the community with disabilities to help her meet the demand. The result has been a growing business that now directly supports the employment of 70 women and men with disabilities who produce beautiful artisan gifts using recycled glass and sustainable materials.


Shanga gift shop in Arusha


When I visited, I had the opportunity to see the people of Shanga produce their wares in the workshop. The impressive array of sustainable products includes weaving, glass blowing, beading, papermaking and metal work. I was impressed by the skills of Shanga’s artisans, many with disabilities, who were creating such stunning pieces. At the entrance of Shanga, there’s a wall painted with a quote that encapsulates this shop’s philosophy: “Kindness is a language which blind people see and deaf people hear.” I encourage all African Travel guests who stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge to visit this shop: with the purchase of stunning artisan jewellery and crafts, you will directly support the local communities in Arusha.


A weaver at work Shanga


2) Nyaruswiga Safari Lodge | Serengeti, Tanzania

Situated in the heart of Serengeti National Park, One Nature’s Nyaruswiga Safari Lodge is a an ultra luxury tented camp, perfect for travelers who crave absolute comfort combined with unforgettable wildlife safaris. Nyaruswiga not only features first-class accommodations and a wonderful spa where you can relax and rejuvenate with a variety of wellness treatments, but a portion of your booking contributes to One Nature’s impressive conservation and sustainability projects. All One Nature camps, including Nyaruswiga, minimize their carbon footprint by using solar energy to power their camps’ operations. The purpose is to conserve the Serengeti’s resources so that travelers to the region can continue to enjoy its rich wildlife experience.


Solar panels at One Nature Nyaruswiga


One Nature also supports anti-poaching initiatives in the region: they have partnered with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to support the Serengeti de-snaring program. This initiative recruits locals, many who are ex-poachers, from villages in the Serengeti to use their skills and experience to locate and destroy snare traps throughout the Serengeti. The snares are a major problem for local wildlife and this program is making a real impact thanks to guests choosing to travel responsibly in Tanzania.

3) Bisate Lodge | Rwanda

Bisate Lodge, a new luxury lodge that opened in 2017, is committed to sustainable conservation and community development in Rwanda. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the lodge is just how small of a footprint it makes. Bisate features just six luxury rooms, which they call forest villas. These villas are proudly made out of recycled materials, including glass and wood that you notice as soon as you enter your room. The look of the villas is also striking; they are pod shaped and the rooms sit on stilts high above the forest floor. These features only enhance the luxury feeling of Bisate: the rooms are spacious and feature large balconies that overlook the forest that surrounds the lodge.


The beautiful chandelier in the lounge area at Bisate, made of recycled glass


Bisate embraces a philosophy called “every guest a philanthropist”. During the construction of the lodge, Wilderness Safaris, the owners of Bisate Lodge, embarked on a project to plant more than 15,000 indigenous trees across the site on which Bisate is situated. Guests are encouraged to make their own small contribution to this ambitious project by planting a tree during their stay. Not only is this a fun activity, but I also learned more about the unique ecosystem and biodiversity of the area. The goal of the project is to restore rainforest habitats in the Volcanoes region as this will also help to expand the gorilla’s habitat. In total, Bisate wants to reforest 43 hectares of land with local vegetation including bamboo, hagenia and dombea trees.  As more vegetation returns to the region, more wildlife will follow. I highly encourage guests to take part in tree planting at Bisate; the feeling of contributing to this ambitious conservation project is a joy.

They have also started a project to build a dam so that the local community will have easier access to water and not have to carry water so far.


Planting trees at Bisate Lodge


Cape Town is Open for Business

January 30th, 2018, by Lucille Sive

Cape Town is Open for Business

The pool and ocean view at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa


UPDATE: Cape Town's Day Zero has been avoided for 2018! For more information, please read a joint statement here

I have just returned from a fabulous two-week trip to Cape Town and I have to say that if you can you should come and enjoy this exceptionally beautiful city. I stayed at The Table Bay Hotel and the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa during my trip. As you have probably seen, everyone is talking about the water shortage in Cape Town and both these hotels are clearly giving their guests peace of mind that every drop of water is being used responsibly. My experience was very positive and I felt very comfortable at both properties.

As with all hotels in the Cape Town city region, they are following excellent water saving practices. Hotels have removed bath plugs to encourage guests to take showers, but bathtub plugs are available on request. Shower heads have been fitted with restrictors. Linens are not being changed daily unless you request it (like everywhere else in the world). Bottled water is readily available instead of pitchers of water in restaurants. They are also using biodegradable paper napkins and placemats in restaurants. As a result of these steps along with many other initiatives that have been put in place to cut water consumption, Cape Town is already showing 50% less water usage.  

Cape Town is open for business and thrives on tourism to keep a healthy economy and to maintain 320,000 jobs. Historically Cape Town is a water-scarce part of the world (much like Southern California and Western Australia) and is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is susceptible to periodic droughts. Responsible consumption of water is the new normal. I urge you to feel at ease travelling to Cape Town. Please note that water saving measures apply only to the City of Cape Town. Outlying regions of the Cape such as the Winelands and Hermanus, a premier whale-watching area, have not been affected and nor have the game parks.

I have addressed some of the many questions that I have had here:

If tourists visit Cape Town will there be water?

There is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet and other daily hygiene. Tourists will be able to take a shower. At present, the use of baths is discouraged.

Will tourists have access to drinking water?

Yes. Bottled water is supplied in most hotel rooms and freely available for purchase at a reasonable cost in all grocery and convenience stores.

What does ‘Day Zero’ mean?

‘Day Zero’ is when the City of Cape Town would cut the regular flow of water. ‘Day Zero’ is a projected date that is entirely dependent on current rates of water consumption: if all participants adhere to the required water savings target, ‘Day Zero’ can be avoided. Day Zero has been repeatedly pushed back and is now expected to hit on July 15th. Tourists are still able to enjoy the diverse and world-class experiences that Cape Town has to offer.

Will restaurants and bars still be in operation?

In the event of ‘Day Zero’ - yes. Many parts of the hospitality industry have proactively implemented water savings and water augmentation solutions to ensure ongoing availability of water in their establishments. Restaurants and bars are not currently negatively affected, but must still comply with water restrictions.

Which tourism activities could be impacted?

Tourists will still be able to access and enjoy all primary tourism attractions such as Table Mountain, Cape Point and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

How widespread is the drought in South Africa?

The drought and resulting water restrictions are particularly to the City of Cape Town.

Will tourists be able to use a swimming pool?

Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water. The majority of tourism establishments have put in place measures to ensure their water usage is reduced, and many have developed plans for alternative supplies.

Will emergency services still function in the event of ‘Day Zero’?

Yes. All critical emergency services (hospitals, clinics, police services) will continue to function as normal.

In conclusion, this vibrant city offers gourmet cuisine, museums, nightlife, shopping and more. With its iconic Table Mountain that is a scenic wonder, awe-inspiring drives, quaint Winelands towns, botanical gardens, nature reserves and world class restaurants, this is one of the most prized cities in the world. A visit to Cape Town should not be missed.


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