International Travel Company Membership
International tour operators have a special role to play in saving the Serengeti ecosystem. Learn more here about how you can be part of the solution.
What kind of marketing opportunities will my membership include?
- Using the FOS logo and other marketing materials.
- A listing on the FOS web site.
- Promotion to FOS Facebook members.
- Networking with potential travelers on our Facebook and our discussion forum.
- Reaching travelers through our network of Affiliates. These affiliate organizations include:
Center for Responsible Travel, which sponsors the Traveler’s Philanthropy Conference (held in Tanzania in 2010) and raises funds for projects. It also does online fundraising. Their list includes more than 30,000 travelers. Adventure Travel Trade Association is a global trade network of more than 600 companies supporting sustainable adventure travel markets worldwide. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world.
How and why Friends of Serengeti ?
After the highway across the Serengeti was announced last year, an international opposition arose. Leaders of this saw the need for a more permanent coalition of support for the long term, and with 40,000+ international supporters, there was an opportunity to build it. They founded Serengeti Watch under the auspices of a well respected nonprofit, Earth Island Institute. Friends of Serengeti arose as a program of Serengeti Watch.
Serengeti Watch is the only international organization specifically focusing on the Serengeti. And Friends of Serengeti is the only international travel organization focused on it. Being located outside of East Africa has given it a measure of independence others do not have.
Why organize the travel industry?
In the end, tourism may be the main reason that the Serengeti and other protected areas will be allowed to survive. The tourism industry has a responsibility to protect the areas it uses and to give back – and it’s in its own self interest to protect the areas it uses. Moreover, its marketing skill and contact with tens of thousands of global travelers gives it a great deal of power to generate support, do good, and influence decisions.
Why focus on the Serengeti, aren’t there many other protected areas in East Africa needing support?
We refer to the Serengeti meaning the entire Serengeti ecosystem. In Tanzania, the Park is the linchpin of all other parks and reserves in Tanzania and provides the bulk of income from tourism for the entire park system. If the Serengeti goes, the other areas will too, including Masai Mara in Kenya. Moreover, the Serengeti is the icon of World Heritage Sites and has particular significance in the world. Threats to the Serengeti represent threats to all other world treasures and to the World Heritage concept itself.
How are projects identified and approved?
FOS believes that those closest to the issues know them best, and this means in-country partners. Tanzanian and Kenya partner organizations will help identify projects and recommend them to the FOS Project Committee for consideration.
Who administers projects, with what accountability?
FOS will not administer projects directly. It will partner with other reputable NGO’s and local organizations that are already working in the area. We will pick and choose among according to our own mission and goals. Projects will be administered by these organizations, they will report to FOS on outcomes, and provide information for travelers and FOS members.
Earth Island Institute is the fiscal sponsor of Serengeti Watch. A highly respected nonprofit conservation organization in the US, it has the highest rating on Charity Navigator and the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Our Traveler Funding Program
Our International Members harness the potential and goodwill of travelers by adopting a Traveler Funding Program. This provides meaningful financial support for conservation, education, and social programs. Without it, we are simply another trade organization. With it, we are a force for sustainable tourism.
Each year over 90% of our clients make a contribution to participate in the traveler donation program. We do something similar for all our destinations around the world…Most travelers appreciate the opportunity to give back.
We include it as a line item in their invoice with an explanation in the cover letter of the pre-departure packet…nothing more is said so it’s not an embarrassing thing and there’s no real pressure on the clients.Kurt Kutay, Wildland Adventures
Our program is modeled after the successful International Galapagos Tour Operators Association. (www.igtoa.org) IGTOA has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for conservation and social programs in the Galapagos Islands. How? It learned that the best way was to ask travelers to make a donation when they paid for their trip.
Here’s how the FOS funding program works. As a member you:
- Give information to travelers on issues and needs.
- Put an optional line item donation of $50 (minimum) to the invoice of each traveler over 18. Some companies simply build the donation into the trip cost and don’t invoice clients. Some companies give their clients a credit on a future trip equal to the amount of the donation made.
- periodically transfer donations online.
FOS may allow an alternate donation program. Such a program must be pre-approved. It must monitored and shown to bring in equivalent funding results to the above system. (Asking travelers to donate when they return usually does not work.)
If you have questions, inquire when you apply.
See the web site for more information on our sister organization, the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association.