"Responsible tourism minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts, it generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities."
Tzaneen Country Lodge is situated on 170 hectares of farmland, and indigenous forest on the Tzaneen / Phalaborwa Road. We are direct neighbours to a community of 200 families, mostly belonging to a coloured community but also with Tsonga and Sotho families settled on the land.
The large majority of our workers and us ourselves both work and live here. The principles that guide our conduct are as follows:
Our wellbeing and the prosperity of our business are narrowly dependent on the attitudes and the social and economic condition of this community in which we both live and work. We have no security if the community around us does not feel secure and does not feel that we have a positive impact on their lives. It also follows that our wider community can only provide us with a fertile environment if they grow economically and if they face their future with hope.
We have always tried to follow sound environmental practices before it became vogue. We have done a lot - especially in the fields of reversing environmental degradation and conserving water and energy and recycling waste. We are doing almost as much as can be done. Here follows a catalogue of what we have done and the course we set for the future.
Luxurious green eco conscious accommodation which makes a difference in the lives of the communities around us.
OUR GREAT GREEN JOURNEY
"Our great green journey" has earned us the right to say that Tzaneen Country Lodge is the greenest hotel in all of Limpopo and most likely in all of Southern Africa.
We did not become green when it was the trendy thing to do, we started out as a Green Hotel and we intend to stay a Green Hotel for ever more.
We are truly committed and passionate to save our environment and has customised all of our hospitality practices to create an environment of eco sustainability. For us it is not a fad or an advertising necessity. Some of our green practices included but is not limited to the use of solar energy for all water heating. Energy saving lighting is used in every possible situation and evaporator coolers are used extensively and air-conditioners only where unavoidable.
We sanitise and purify all water we use and then re-cycle it for irrigating our gardens and mango farm. This 100% re-cycling of water not only conserves this precious resource but also safeguards the pristine uncontaminated quality of our groundwater, which is drawn from wells 120 m below the surface.
The quality of aquatic and bird life in our surface waters is a testament to our concern for our environment. By using solid wood dining tables and laminated conference tables in conjunction with a guest linen replacement policy, we further save significant quantities of water.
We farm a small portion intensively and we have returned 60% of previous agricultural land to indigenous forest, where over 3000 indigenous species of flora and fauna have been re-established. Re-cycling here is not a catch word but a way of life. Besides following the prescribed best practices policies on solid waste we even recycle buildings.
None of us can be really green without the smart, innovative vendors who provide green products and services. Being green means supporting green vendors, listening to their sales staff, purchasing their products and services and cheering them on. We continually strive to excel in our quest to be eco-excellent in everything that we do.
"Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just to take from it" Carrie Underwood
At Tzaneen Country Lodge we believe that our involvement in the lives of the people in the communities around our lodge reflect our commitment to make the world a better place. For us, it is not just a saying but a daily commitment in kindness to all around us.
Corporate social responsibility is measured in terms of businesses improving conditions for their employees, communities, and our valued environment. But for us, it goes a little further, and we strice to create better living conditions, access to education, employment by following a set of principles based on inclusion, dignity, and equality.
1. The Tzaneen Country Lodge originated and fully sponsors the local community soccer team, which includes all transport, kit, equipment, and the home soccer field and club, as well as spectator facilities. The first team has been so successful that it has been promoted to the local metropolitan league.
2. The Tzaneen Country Lodge played a key role in securing the electrification of the area for the benefit of our local community by the Tzaneen Municipality. We acted as facilitators and coordinators because our community lacks a leadership structure.
3. We are now focused on the building of a crèche for which we have pledged an amount of R10 000.00 as seed capital for use in promoting and facilitating the process between the community and the many relevant local and national authorities involved in such a process.
4. The Tzaneen Country Lodge also supports schools in the wider community with books and prize money and sponsorships to award achievers. We have also recently adopted a primary school and started our project with sponsoring a children / parent day.
5. Tzaneen Country Lodge works in association with Choice for internal training and courses on HIV/Aids, as well as assisting in the distribution of educational material in the community to combat HIV/Aids in our worker corps and their families we supported with HRV costs before the Government made it available locally. We also provide the locality for the monthly mobile clinic which serves our staff as well as the local community.
6. Tzaneen Country Lodge outsources all surplus accommodation needs and requests to the Karibu Leisure Resort owned by Mrs Nyeleti Mushwana, a previously disadvantaged individual who started her own business in tourism. Tzaneen Country Lodge provides practical training to tourism students from the area. The students are offered practical training and mentorship with regular visits to the Tzaneen Country Lodge to assist with their view of the tourism industry.
7. Tzaneen Country Lodge follows an enlightened housing policy where the standards of housing offered to our workers is clean and all amenities are available to workers who themselves must be hygienic and presentable to customers at all times. Beside the decent quality accommodation and amenities such as a soccer field we are constructing a club house with swimming pool for completion in December 2015. We are convinced that our junior staff housing is a model for all hospitality establishments in South Africa.
At Tzaneen Country Lodge we believe that our economic success is closely associated with the economic sustainability of the area and the community that surrounds us.
1. Tzaneen Country Lodge and associated businesses such as the Conference Centre, the Animal Touch Farm and shop, the stables and horses, fishing and conservation (game farm) has created over 215 full time jobs since the Lodge was established in 2001 and we follow a policy of preferential hiring of local community members.
2. We have examples such as a roadside hawker who we offered a job and he is now our Restaurant Manager. He also forms part of our management trainee programme.
3. Tzaneen Country Lodge has provided interest free loans to community members to establish or expand their businesses. The one case is a taxi operator who was not only assisted with a soft-loan, but who is given preferred purchase of all of the substantial taxi service used by the Lodge. Our next step is to assist this operator to enter into the specialized field of guided tours in the community to tell tourists more about our exceptional culture.
4. We are primarily a country commercial hotel but as we are gradually shifting our client base to expand it into the overseas tourist market, we are also expanding our use of community tourism to promote contact between locals and the overseas client.
5. We have also recently introduced our Community Tourism Initiative where we take tourists with a Senior Community Member of the Bolobedu Tribe and pay him to act as Site Guide to conduct tours to the Modjadji Cycad Forest and Royal Kraal.
6. A major portion of our senior staff are from previously disadvantages communities and receive in house training to achieve the positions which they now hold - in many cases Management Positions. Virtually all junior staff had their first experience of working in the hospitality and tourism industry at the Tzaneen Country Lodge and grew with us over the last 12 years from a 22 room start up to the 67 bedroom Country Hotel.
7. In the fields of employment equity and employment training we have not met but exceeded the rules and requirements of our industry.
8. We established a trust for our workers – the Tzaneen Country Lodge Workers Trust which not only gives our staff a 15 % interest in the Tzaneen Conference Centre but also places two staff members on our board of directors to insure their involvement and identification with our goals.
9. We not only adhere to general and industry specific legislation but ensure that we exceed those standards.
10. The most significant economic initiative taken by the management of Tzaneen Country Lodge is the adjacent planned development of an arts and craft centre. All of the time consuming processes have been successfully completed, the site has been identified, finance has been approved in principle, and construction may start in 2016. Though such an enterprise will take years to attain full impact and even longer to achieve profitability the finance is virtually assured because the social and economic impact of the scheme will be significant to our community.
11. Tzaneen Country Lodge has trained and subsidised a private entrepreneur to operate the recycling of waste as a small enterprise – see our comments on waste management.
At Tzaneen Country Lodge our Environmental Management system is more than a series of policies – it is a way of life.
Our Environmental management system (EMS) refers to the management of Tzaneen Country Lodge and the policies, procedures and systems we have put in place to ensure the continious wellbeing of the enviroment.
Environmental Management System
1. Tzaneen Country Lodge is part of a 160 hectares property which had previously been farmed as orchards, cash crops and livestock.
2. It has now been divided into a Lodge and ancillary businesses (10 hectares), a commercial mango farm (30 hectares) and the rest (120 hectares) is being restored to its previous natural fauna and flora. This includes the rehabilitation (80 hectares or 70 %) of old orchards and fields.
3. We are guided by the recommendations of the Department of Nature Conservation on the quantity and possible combination of game that can be re-established on this land.
4. The Game fencing of the area is complete and 1500 indigenous trees have been re-established. The eradication of the massive infestation of invasive vegetation is complete. We are then replacing them by re-introducing species that has been lost to this area.
5. On our commercial farming section eco-friendly and responsible tourism practices are followed entailing minimal use of destructive pest control techniques, and water utilization is confined to drip irrigation only. We concentrate on mangos as a crop because it is drought resistant and performs well on assisted irrigation as opposed to full irrigation required for more demanding crops.
6. This living demonstration of the viable synthesizing of commercial, agricultural and conservation land utilization will enhance the quality of the tourist product we offer. It will also serve as a demonstration of how economic development can be meaningfully combined with conservation of our eco systems.
“How do you change the world? By one single act of kindness. If all of us do one great thing for Earth every day, we won’t need to save the Earth for the Earth will save us.” Adri Kruger
Single Resource Management
1. Tzaneen Country Lodge operates a sewerage plant with a capacity of 100m3/day.
2. All water used by Tzaneen Country Lodge and ancillary businesses is purified to the DWAF standard for water to be released into river stream. No sewerage water is returned underground in French drains due to pollution risk to the environment.
3. The purified and chlorinated sewerage water is then used for the irrigation of the Lodge gardens, the animal pastures and the irrigation of the commercial mango orchards. Not one drop of water is wasted.
4. Stand-by power and a wetland system is maintained in the case of any extended power interruptions or breakdown of the aerobic turbines.
5. All water supplies to the different sections are metered to ensure that wastage is detected timeously.
6. The Department of Health tests both the clean water supply from boreholes as well as the irrigation water from the sanitation plant every month to ensure that standards are adhere to.
From the establishment of Tzaneen Country Lodge at the end of the year 2000 - electricity conservation has been integral part of management procedure.
1. All water is heated by solar geysers and electricity is used only as back up.
2. Geysers and hot water supply lines are adequately insulated.
3. Energy saving globes are used everywhere that is feasible.
4. We use evaporation cooling systems and not air conditioning as far as possible (70/30 ratio).We strive to bring the health as well as the environmental benefits of these options to the attention of our clients. (In a hotel situation the capital cost of evaporation system are higher than conventional air conditioners but the energy consumption is much lower.)
5. In construction we take care to ensure maximum practical isolation of our buildings to protect against the extremes of heat and cold.
6. Though we have covered the major areas where consumption can be saved there is still some room for improvement such as a more extensive use of timing switches. We shall now request Eskom to audit us to advise us and to advise us on even further savings in the future.
1. We have a recycle facility for the sorting of solid waste which has preceded the opening of Tzaneen Country Lodge.
2. We have a collector service that collects all waste and delivers it to the recycle yard.
3. We subsidize an entrepreneur who runs the facility as his business.
4. We provide the facility and we arranged for the training that is required.
5. We also hire solid waste bins from Wastech for any materials that cannot be recovered and they dispose of such materials at the municipal dump 20 km away at Tzaneen.
6. Waste is sorted in glass (coloured and clear), metals (aluminium and other) plastics, paper and cardboard, and organic materials.
7. Organic materials are sorted into that which can be sold as animal feed and that which can be composted. We buy back the animal feed for our touch farm animals and the compost for our extensive gardens. (We even buy back the cutlery that has been inadvertently disposed into the waste!)
8. We assist in finding the market for other products such as glass, metals, paper and plastics.
9. We find that it is difficult to sell sorted waste products so far from Gauteng, primarily it seems because the transport costs to the plants that are situated there makes it difficult for the middleman in our region to pay a price sufficient to recover collection and sorting cost. This problem we are going to take up with Coke and SAB as they are the major source of waste materials.
10. We try to limit our own waste production and to use recyclable products where possible.
11. There are a number of innovations we can do to facilitate and streamline the process used to ensure that less waste is dumped and more recovered. It is an area which will receive a greater portion of our management time as we think it is crucial area in a consumerist society which generates increasing volumes of waste. It may seem mundane or an even unpleasant task but it is a crucial area for which we must provide better solutions as an industry and as a business.
Tzaneen Country Lodge, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Please e-mail us for greater detail on our practices and policies. We hope that if you do visit you can help us in practical ways to improve on what we are doing.