Today, searching the world far and wide for hotel and travel companies with a green heart, that practice Responsible Tourism, is not a tall order. Organizations that operate on the premise of extending as much hospitality to the guests as they do towards the communities, wildlife, and environments that have given them the “privilege” of “setting up shop”, all in the name of tourism. Because tourism today has evolved commendably beyond what it was in the past. There’s more “give” in the proverbial “give and take”, and in many cases it’s balancing nicely indeed. Here’s another fine example of a Hotel practicing Responsible Tourism ~ Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda, Land of the majestic Gorillas (as appeared in National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel).
In my travels to various destinations in the developing world, I’ve often been disappointed by how some upscale resorts and hotels go out of their way to separate their businesses and guests from the local population. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, located in a farming community right outside Volcanoes National Park inRwanda.
Set on the slopes of the volcano Sabyinyo, this luxury lodge caters to well-heeled tourists coming to track the park’s mountain gorillas and it supports some of the neediest members of the surrounding community. It’s managed by Governors’ Camp, which operates several high-end lodges and safari camps in East Africa, but is owned by SACOLA, an association of about 18,000 local Rwandans that is sponsored by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme,African Wildlife Foundation, and USAID.
When guests stay at the lodge, $50 per person per night goes to SACOLA. Since the lodge opened in 2007, SACOLA has earned enough to build more than 1,200 houses for survivors of the Rwandan genocide and other needy families, and fund sustainable agriculture projects as well. Sabyinyo also employs locals–90 percent of the staff members are Rwandan–and most of the food and all of the flowers used on the property are grown by community members.