Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tanzania set to host 2008 Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference

By Apolinari Tairo
22nd September 2008

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) - Tanzania will officially be the second host of Travelers Philanthrophy Conference, which is scheduled to take place in Northern tourist town of Arusha early December this year.

The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has announced its acceptance to sponsor part of the conference and participate in the conference that will take place from December 3 - 5 this year with high expectations to attract over 300 participants, most from tourism business and environmental partnerships.

Ethiopian Airlines has been named the conference’s “preferred international airline.” It is providing a 50 percent discount on tickets for journalists covering the conference, as well as complimentary tickets for the US-based conference organizers. Ethiopian Airlines has an active travelers' philanthropy program, including Greener Ethiopia, which is aiming to plant two million trees in Ethiopia.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the Jane Goodall Institute, is supporting the plenary session on “HIV AIDS: Responses from the Travel Industry” and the workshops under the stream “Travelers’ Philanthropy: Contribution to Conservation.”

Another conference sponsor will be the Conservation Corporation of Africa (CC Africa) is hosting the December 4 cocktail reception which will feature the company’s Ngorongoro Lodge Choir and will showcase the company’s educational outreach programs on HIV AIDS prevalence in Africa.

The regional offices in East and Southern Africa of the Ford Foundation are supporting the conference by providing several dozen scholarships for attendees and speakers, while the ProParques Foundation in Costa Rica and Basecamp Explorer Foundation will finance a new documentary on travelers’ philanthropy projects in East Africa and Costa Rica. The documentary by two young filmmakers from Stanford
University will be premiered at the conference.

Other co-sponsors and active supporters of the three-day event, which is being held at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge outside Arusha in Northern Tanzania, include Country Walkers, Spirit of the Big Five Foundation, Thomson Safaris, Virgin Unite, Asilia Lodges and Camps, Africa Safari Lodge Foundation, and Honeyguide Foundations. International travel, airport transfers, and hotel bookings at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, the conference venue outside Arusha, is being handled by Safari Ventures, a Tanzanian-owned travel agency which supports community projects.

Under the banner “Making Travelers’ Philanthropy Work for Development, Business, and Conservation,” the conference will focus on the growing trend among responsible tourism businesses to support community and conservation projects in the host countries where they operate.

The opening keynote speaker is Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder and leader of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Biologist Dr. David Western, who is founder of the Africa Conservation Centre and former director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), will give a keynote address on "Ecotourism,

Conservation and Development in Eastern Africa." Other speakers and the full conference program are listed on the conference.

Arusha is a vibrant tourism town near the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru that serves as a gateway to Tanzania’s world renowned game parks. The conference also features eight outstanding safaris that combine wildlife viewing with visits to community projects supported by tourism businesses, as well as visits to Zanzibar and a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

“This conference marks the most comprehensive examination to-date of travelers’ philanthropy – the growing global initiative by which tourism businesses and travelers are helping to support local schools, clinics, micro-enterprises, job training, conservation, and other types of projects in tourism destinations around the world,” said Dr. Martha Honey, co-director of the Center on Eco-tourism and Sustainable Development (CESD).

“We have chosen to hold the conference in East Africa because there are many fine examples of responsible tourism businesses,” she added. “The conference also features eight outstanding safaris that combine wildlife viewing with visits to community projects supported by tourism businesses, as well as visits to Zanzibar and a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro.”

The conference is being organized by the US-based nonprofit organization, the Center on Eco-tourism and Sustainable Development (CESD), and a three-person team is in Arusha to coordinate the conference programs.