Tesfa Tours focus is on supporting the communities that are engaged in tourism.
We believe that true community tourism is a partnership between philanthropic businesses and community run enterprises. This partnership should enable local communities to generate sustainable improvements in their livelihood through the development of their own tourism related enterprises, while also contributing to the protection of their physical and cultural environments. Thus community tourism is not merely tourism that benefits the communities but tourism in which a part of the product is owned by the communities. This means that not only do benefits (including income) flow directly to the community but they learn to make decisions and run their own businesses. The result is a dignified and well balanced relationship between the service giver: the community, and the service receiver: the guest. This itself means a dignified and well balanced relationship between the service giver: the community, and the service receiver: the guest – you!
With the community treks income and employment is in local hands.
Beyond the treks Tesfa Tours employs local guides (in towns like Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela) and endeavours to use locally owned lodges and hotels where they provide a good standard. We are also exploring options for extending the sites we offer to the south of Ethiopia where we again will use local people as guides. What we offer is unique in Ethiopia. On a trip you will meet a variety of local people and have the time to really interact with them and learn something of their views on their country and the lives of their people.
Tesfa Tours is looking at ways to put more back into the local communities with which it works. As the relationships are still being worked out this is as yet unclear.
All the community sites are involved in environmental conservation measures – planting of indigenous trees, using composting toilets, having a very low use of water, etc.
In addition since the main activity is trekking it is a low carbon holiday on the trek. Beyond this we are working with Frankfurt Zoological Society to develop a conservation area on Abuna Yoseph – one of the remaining refuges of the endangered Ethiopian Wolf.
The tourism itself is designed to show communities the value of conserving their environment and wildlife by giving it an economic value.
Social responsibility is at the core of a Tesfa Tours holiday with the community treks designed to give the communities a pride in their own culture.
As it puts the host communities in decision making positions they are empowered to conserve their own culture – a culture that in Highland Ethiopia, people are very proud of. On the trek you can see some of the initiatives that have been promoted through this community tourism.
Each hosting community is based around sub groups of a local parish church.
They are registered as cooperatives and are run for the benefit of all their members.
There may be as many at 300 households in one such community, probably around 1,500 people.
So the income a community makes from hosting you really does go to the community level!