Maropeng is given Fair Trade Tourism certification
The certification of Maropeng adds to the product diversity within Fair Trade Tourism, and will hopefully encourage the other South African World Heritage Sites to follow suit. We applaud Maropeng for taking the lead. – Kathy Bergs, general manager of Fair Trade Tourism
It was recently announced that Maropeng, the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, has received Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) certification. The Sterkfontein Caves, the boutique Maropeng Hotel and the Maropeng Learning Centre all fall under the Maropeng banner.
According to Tony Rubin, Maropeng's managing director, sustainable tourism is key to the success of any tourism-related entity. He also points out that the Maropeng team is active and deliberate in meeting the principles laid down by FTT.
'We kick-started the certification process via an assessment by Fair Trade Tourism, an NGO that encourages and monitors fair and responsible practices in tourism establishments and activities. We qualified and received our FTT certification as a result of our adherence to specific fair trade tourism principles, including fair wages and working conditions, fair distribution of benefits, ethical business practices, and respect for human rights, culture and the environment,' he says.
Going green is a big priority, and a number of initiatives have been introduced to make Maropeng more sustainable, with a big focus on water usage in the area. The team at Maropeng constructed an ozone waste-water purification system at the Sterkfontein Caves, which is designed to use ozone to accelerate the breaking down of solids by bacteria (and sterilise the water at the same time).
Maropeng also has another water management initiative called the Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetland System, which is a wetland that has been specially designed to naturally assist in the filtering and cleansing of the site's grey and black water.
In addition to its water management systems, Maropeng has introduced a new recycling initiative called Bokashi – an anaerobic fermentation and composting process that breaks down food waste at source. The Bokashi process diverts food waste from landfill and up-cycles it into a high-value nutrient feed for gardening and agriculture. Maropeng uses the recycled material to feed its gardens and to assist with the feeding of the vegetable gardens of a nearby school.
There are high hopes for the Bokashi initiative in the Cradle region. Robere Brockman, Maropeng's maintenance manager, says, 'We hope to grow the Bokashi recycling initiative to supply feed to those vegetable farmers in the area who supply us with fresh produce.'
At Maropeng there is also a focus on biodegradable packaging and eating utensils, low-energy lighting, rechargeable torch battery use by its guides, and a number of preservation initiatives to ensure Maropeng does its utmost to preserve the incredible fauna and flora of the area.
Kathy Bergs, general manager of FTT, says: 'The certification of Maropeng adds to the product diversity within Fair Trade Tourism, and will hopefully encourage the other South African World Heritage Sites to follow suit. We applaud Maropeng for taking the lead.'
Rubin says that the FTT accreditation was a team effort: 'I would like to thank all staff members at Maropeng for helping make our FTT certification possible. We anticipate increased visitor interest in Maropeng and are thrilled that our current business principles and practices, which have traditionally centred around those principles of responsible tourism and fairness that apply to World Heritage Sites, have been formally assessed.'