As you know we have been long-listed for a Responsible Tourism Award for the ‘Conservation of Cultural Heritage’. Based on surveys conducted online and in Mali and on all other data collected through the project we returned the following answers as our entry to be short-listed for the awards in November at the World travel Market.

Thanks to those that took part in the survey online (full results here) and to that helped on Vorovoro (Save, Sosi, Hassan, Kesa). We will find out in October whether we’ve made the short-list of three or four organisations for the award.

Please provide a brief summary about what your organisation does including a description of the ownership of the organisation and how it is funded:

Tribewanted is both an on-island responsible tourism and and on-line social networking project. The aim is that the evolving island community becomes a model for sustainable living that positively impacts, challenges and inspires both locally in northern Fiji and globally (using social media) to improving the way we live.

Tribewanted and the local communities are developing a cross-cultural community from scratch, fusing traditional Fijian customs and ways of living with international ideas for sustainability and innovation. On-line, Tribewanted has built a social network of 10,000 members who participate with and follow the Fijian project.

Tribewanted has been funded by membership to the project and is owned by UK company. Vorovoro Island is owned by Tui Mali and family and at the end of the three year lease it will be his decision as to the future of the project. All infrastructure is owned by the landowners.

After being long-listed for this award we have undertaken two surveys so we could respond as a community – one with our online members (50+ responses online) and one with the local Fijian community (survey in local Fijian dialect and responses from all four neighbouring island villages plus on-island team and family).

What is the single most significant achievement you have made regarding local people, the environment and/or conservation in the last 2 years?

Kauti viti lesu vei viti – Putting the viti (original Fiji) back into Fiji.

Of the tribe members surveyed the most significant achievement of the project has been:
The re-awakening of Fijian interest in Fijian culture (28.5%)
Sharing of Fijian Culture with a global audience via social media and on Vorovoro (26.9%)
Sustainable development of Vorovoro (19.2%)

“Tribewanted promised a totally new type of partnership between a visiting group and a local group. And for that A++ – the project has totally delivered, everyone who come here is blown away by the experience.” James Vlahos, National Geographic

Of the Fijians surveyed the most significant impact of the project has been:
Revival of Fijian culture and tradition (31%)
Preservation of their environment (27.25%)
Cross-cultural exchange (17%)
Safe dumping of rubbish (13.5%)
Protecting Coral (9.25%)

“To see how to bring Fiji back, people just need to visit Vorovoro. Vorovoro is the way. Vorovoro is the way the world should be, people from all ranks and places come here and enjoy the island and people and cry when they leave because this is the real Fiji. We are stronger when we do things together, and right now we are a very strong tribe.” Ratu Tevita, Community Project Manager, Vorovoro

“Vorovoro is more than just tourism, it is a way of life now.” Ulai Baya,Vorovoro Mataqali (landowner)

“These are not tourists, these are my family.” Tui Mali, Tribal Chief and Mataqali

Please give a brief description of any specific initiatives your organisation / business does to:

Reduce negative social and cultural impacts of tourism?

82.4% of tribe members believe that participatory community living on Vorovoro by Fijians and visitors is the biggest factor in reducing negative social and cultural impacts of tourism.

“To my mind, Vorovoro was and remains a bold and courageous experiment in profound inter-cultural conscious evolution. It strikes me that it IS mutually beneficial. We all felt changed and enriched by our Vorovoro experience, and integral to that is our sense that the Islanders felt/feel the same way.” Tribe Member

How did you measure the impact of this initiative? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates that you are making a difference?

Orientation > Tribe members are given a full tour of the village and etiquette guide upon arrival
Customs > Tribe members are orientated and taught the appropriate way to dress, greet, present sevusevu, Meke (dance), farm, fish, building and language
Visits > All tribe members visit at least one of the local villages during their stay to learn and share their new knowledge

Orientation > every tribe member receives comprehensive information about Fijian culture and community living
Digital talanoa (internet story-telling) > Fijians write weekly blogs about their traditional ways of living and customs
Social networking > 20,000 posts have been written discussing Fijian culture on the forums

ii) Increase the economic benefit of tourism to the local community?

Of the tribe members surveyed the most significant economic benefit of the project has been:

Fixed monthly development budgets with now over $500,000fj being invested in the local Fijian economy (36.5%)
Supporting local suppliers and labour (34.6%)
£10 million + value in international publicity for the region (21.2%)

Commitment to fixed monthly development budgets on Vorovoro
15 full-time local staff/ 10 part-time staff
150 + different individuals employed through village contracts
Food sourced from farmers, fishermen and local market over supermarket
Rotating village boat hire and rented taxi service
Rotate kitchen ladies from each village weekly
Mali Entrepreneurs forums and micro-credit to start new businesses
Family Village Projects of those working on Vorovoro (painting, roof fixing, compost toilets, recycling units)
Work in three local schools School ($4000 raised for school wiring, 3000 books donated, Green Club, sports equipment, 50 hand-painted Zaishu stools sold in US for mali school fees)
Local town Projects (Clean Rivers march, bin painting, bus anti-litter campaign, council and NGO meetings)

How did you measure the impact of this initiative? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates that you are making a difference?

Of the Fijians surveyed the most significant economic impact of the project has been:

Provided work (42%)
Improved their lives (17%)
Helped their families (12.5%)
Helped their school (8%)

iii) Reduce the environmental impact of tourism

Of the tribe members surveyed the most significant initiative taken to reduce the environmental impact of tourism has been:
Provided an on-island and on-line platform for tribe members to discuss, participate, impact and learn about the sustainable development of Vorovoro before, during and after their visit (49%)
Local Education Projects (18.4%)
Employed full-time sustainability managers and support team on Vorovoro (14.3%)
Partnerships (10.2%)

“What really differentiates Tribewanted from most other tourism initiatives is the way in which many of the tribe members work to positively impact things going on around them. That impact is not necessarily limited to just Vorovoro, either. Last month, one of the tribe members successfully negotiated an anti-litter campaign with the two biggest bus companies in Labasa. The transport companies agreed to print stickers to place on the backs of each seat asking their riders to “Bin It!” and not throw trash out the windows. Back on the island and online, this “win” is highlighted, discussed and celebrated.” Fiji Times, February 2008

How did you measure the impact of this initiative? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates that you are making a difference?

Tribe members and Fijian communities have built this project both on-line and on-island together from scratch. There has been a shared decision making process on-island via the mataqali (land-owners) and on-line via forums and votes for monthly elected chiefs. As a result each project, whether its compost toilet or water tank becomes a shared education experience.

Impact of Tribewanted experience on people’s view of the importance of sustainability:
Before visiting: 19.2% vital, 61.5% important, 7.7% not important, 11.5% didn’t care
During project: 53.8% vital, 46.2% important
After visiting: 28% vital, 72% important

Impact of Waste: 33.95% recycled on-island, 32.39% recycled off-island, 30.55% landfill
Impact of Food: 23% Food sourced on-island (land/sea)
Impact of Water: 90% of water used on Vorovoro is rainwater harvest
Impact of Energy: Solar and WInd turbine provide 100% power on Vorovoro

Answers to question 5 covers this evidence in detail

Make a positive contribution to conservation of local culture?

Of the tribe members surveyed the most significant initiative taken to make a positive contribution to the conservation of local culture has been:
Put the learning and participation in traditional Fijian culture, living and protocol at the heart of the Tribewanted: Vorovoro experience (66.7%)
Empowered Fijian team to lead cultural as well as physical development of Vorovoro (21.6%)
Shared what we have learnt on-island, on-line so members knowledge of Fijian culture and living increases regardless of their visit or not (11.8%)

Fijian team are empowered to lead the project from the front – each member of the team has not only physical work role on the island but also a cultural role which range from sevusevu, meke, langage, greetings etc…

Older Fijian workers also pass on traditional bure’ building techniques to younger FIjians – a style of building that has been dying out.

“To call Tribewanted a case study for tourism would be like calling kava a beverage. It runs much deeper than that. The community being built on Vorovoro is much more than just a place to travel to. It’s a confluence of environmental sustainability, personal responsibility, travel, cultural immersion, exploration and collaboration.” Fiji Times

How did you measure the impact of this initiative? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates that you are making a difference?

Of the Fijians surveyed the most positive cultural impact of the project has been:
Learning Fijian (26.5%)
Using dress code (23.5%)
Respecting kava ceremony and meke (20%)
Expressing Vanua greeting (16.5%)

“As members become so interested in our customs, it makes us realise how important our culture is and makes us more aware in how we should preserve it.” Vasiti, Matai Labasa

Make a positive contribution to conservation of the biodiversity of the local area?

Of the tribe members survyed the most positive contribution to the conservation of biodiversity was:
Developing the tribe village organically, complimenting the island’s biodiversity rather than replacing it (74%)
Sharing the development of Vorovoro online and thus raising awareness of the island and local areas biodiversity (18%)

How did you measure the impact of this initiative? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates that you are making a difference?

We have spent approximately 20% of our human resources (Fijian and tribe members) on planting in the first two years of the project. Under the guidance of Tevita, one of Fiji’s finest horticultarilists, we have planteed everything from citrus trees to orchids.

A cyclone in February 2007 flooded all our gardens and we had to start again from scratch. We re-plant coconut palm sapplings and flowers aroudn the village on a weekly basis. One garden is now ten!

If applicable, please describe how you work with and/or support disadvantaged groups. How are members of disadvantaged groups given opportunities within your organisation?

Fijian surveyed opinions of how Tribewanted has supported disadvantaged groups:
By providing school books (35.5%)
Teaching & Wiring of school (32%)
Providing Sports Equipment (17.5%)
Providing Computers (15%)

School Report:
“Tribewanted has done a great job by providing and supporting the Mali School children with books, sports gear, computers and also the electricity and water projects. Children are now able to study and drink water freely.”

Mali Yavusa summary of survey answers:
“Tribewanted has done a great job so far in providing the community at large with the contributions they have done in jobs, words and deeds. They are also taking part in donations for church services and village callings. As part of the village they present food items for any functions – weddings, funerals, fundraisers, holidays etc.. They have made us more proud of who we are by showing passion for the way we live. And along with the jobs and education this has given us an advantage in our lives and confidence we didn’t have before.”

Are you taking any steps to reduce your carbon footprint (the impact of your organisation on global warming) through reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, the burning of wood or reducing the consumption of electricity, for example? Do you have figures which report what you have achieved?

Through Tribewanted we have so far taken the following steps to reduce our carbon footprint:

100% solar/wind power with Ecotricity on-island > lap-tops, cameras, LED light system
Currently initiating pig waste run biogas system for cooking
Currently trialing biodiesel production for taxi service from airport to river
Boat Journeys restricted to three days a week
All team travel offset with Climate Care & encourage tribe to do same
Refrigeration run on imported ice, more efficient than renewable power
Five compost latrines with waste being used on gardens
Majority of visitors wash in sea with biodegradble soaps (we now provide our own naked coconut soap)
Full reduce, reuse, recycle system in place (weekly rubbish sort with visitors and locals to reduce landfill)
Reed Bed turns showers grey water into re-usable water for gardens
Mangrove Restoration by replanting seedlings
90% of all water to date harvested from rain off village roofs
Micro-desalination over camp-fire at night
Spear fishing on non-tabu reef sites twice weekly
Vegetables, fruit and herbs harvested daily from gardens
Horseshoe ‘Farm-acy’ providing natural remedies for all island illnesses
Bamboo, mangrove, reeds, vines sourced sustainably from neighbouring islands
All other building materials locally sourced.
Green Club education in local schools weekly (three schools impacted so far)
Weekly sustainability workshops and tours
Daily gardening, animal feeding and composting projects introduce visitors to island life
Green Footprint tour as to what you can do at home
UCL Environmental Engineers – full sustainability plan for Vorovoro
Ecotricity – provided renewable energy for island
Climate Care – support on offsetting
Pure Fiji – Providing biodegrable washing products for tribe
Thousands of forums and hundred of blogs discussing on-island, at-home and global sustainability issues daily.
Weekly e-news to 10,000
300,000 + photographs and 200+ videos from Vorovoro tagging sustainability projects progress
All marketing/PR done online – no brochure printing!
1.5 million viewers of BBC’s Paradise or Bust leading to more online discussion + book
Winner ‘Best Social Network’ at Broadcast Digital Media Awards June 2008 > “From its grassroots beginning, Tribewanted has grown into a huge and long-term idea that shows lives changing through social networking.”

To what extent have you been a leader for your suppliers or businesses in the destination to encourage them to develop their own responsible tourism practices? Please illustrate how this is being put into practice.

Local businesses and organisations are invited to visit Vorovoro and see our projects
Villages are invited on a weekly basis to events on the island and take part in its development

Refusing sea turtle and explaining why at wedding ceremonies
Picking up litter around school campus

Refusing the plastic bag everywhere – one of the hardest challenges of the project so far!
Attended town meetings with WCS, Peace Corps, WWF, Hope Labasa, Labasa Council

25 articles in Fiji Times over two years, including four journalist visits
4 magazine features on the project
2 in-depth reports on the project

What is your next priority on the journey to responsibility to local people and the environment?

Of the tribe members surveyed the next priority is:
Making the Vorovoro community a sustainable as possible in the next 12 months (46.2%)
Supporting sustainable development projects in the neighbouring villages of Mali (42.3%)

Of the Fijian’s survey the next priority is:
Working together more (46%)
Providing a water tank for every village (23%)
Help develop every village (31%)

How are we going to do this?
Contine to make our work on the four key areas of village development more sustainable:
WATER: All water harvested from rain in year three/ raise money through charoty for community projects
WASTE: Set-up recycling plant in local town, keep landfill low as numbers grow
FOOD: Increase trade with communities directly, realise the benefit of two years planting!
ENERGY: Introduce a second island wind turbine to repalce the generator in the Fijian village, biodiesel taxi service completed, all food cooked on wood stove or biogas.

Increase education through:
On-island sustianability tours, forums, green clubs and workshops
On-line surveys, blogs, videos, photo essays. debates forums

Increase development through:
Fixed monthly development budgets
Raising funds through online charity for community projects

Please list below any web links that provide further evidence of the achievements of your organisation in the area of responsible tourism.

Homepage >
Local media film report on project impact >
Tevita’s Blog >
Food Blogs >
Water Blogs >
Waste Blogs >
Building Blogs >
Transport Blogs >
Energy Blogs >
Sustainability Blogs >
Technology Blogs >