Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?
For the past eight years, we have committed ourselves to setting aside enough money from the resort’s revenue to sponsor this most important social and environmental event in the Maldives. The Soneva Nature Trip will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. The initiative is financially and organisationally sustainable. However, many more trips could be arranged for islanders if there were more local facilitators (a matter of training) to choose from and more budget to spend.
How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.
Soneva Fushi spends 0.5% of its total revenue (approx. USD 75,000) plus all its laundry revenue (USD 20,000) on local and global social and environmental initiatives. We have a manager who oversees this budget, and we decide within a team of committed people employed at the resort which proposed project is sustainable, outreaching and beneficial enough to be eligible for funding. The Soneva Nature Trip is one of the most important initiatives we have been sponsoring, but we also fund waste awareness campaigns, support health-related projects and build schools on neighbouring islands.
What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.
We are currently organising an eco symposium at Soneva Fushi in June and inviting several business leaders, environmentalists and journalists to the resort. By having a dialogue with like-minded people and showcasing some of our own achievements, we are hoping to be able to promote sustainable experiences for guests, renewable energy projects and community interactions throughout the tourism sector as the right path for the future. Establishing a network of sustainable tourism operators would help set a trend for future developments and enable us to broaden our influence on the market.
What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?
The main challenge is finding and financing trained local personnel for conducting the field trips. There is no college or university with a focus on environmental or biological studies in the Maldives yet, so facilitators are either self-taught or continued their studies abroad. The establishment of a national legislative framework, and most importantly the enforcement of environmental policies and laws, is also crucial for the continued success of the environmental awareness campaigns.