Ilha Blue is committed to putting local people first as we work to create a thriving tourism business. In 2012, our first year on the island, we demonstrated our commitment to responsible tourism by investing in employment and training.
We developed bicycle tours, subsidised activities that opened up a whole lot of new possibilities for underemployed guides.
We ran weekly workshops focusing on what visitors to the island really want. These encouraged the guides to improve their presentations by adding more about local customs and lifestyle as well as practical tips on shops, banking, great cafés and bars and the best beaches for swimming. The workshops also gave them an opportunity to expand on the Portuguese history by including an African perspective on significant events – empowering stuff that drew great enthusiasm.
As the company began to take shape, we shopped locally, provided employment for a student to work in our office, hired a mechanic to service the bikes and various tradesmen and assistants to set up our shop and guide us through the labyrinths of the local bureaucracy.
We jumped at the opportunity to address gender imbalance by hosting an activity for Projecto Oceano, a local NGO who’s mainly female members were grappling with the pros and cons of tourism.
And because its important to have fun, we even threw a big end of season ‘thank you’ party that was the talk of the island.
We are continuing to put local people first and we believe this community-based approach makes sound business sense because it builds local capacity and long-term relationships for the future.