Environmental Sustainability of Hotels on Zanzibar (EnSuZa)
On Zanzibar, tourism is the largest economic sector and is essential for Zanzibar’s socio-economic stability, accounting for 27% of GDP, 80% of foreign revenue and 72.000 jobs. In order to address the adverse effects caused by rapid expansion and unsustainable hotel operations, the Government of Zanzibar has made sustainable tourism one of its national priorities. However, according to the national research agenda for 2015-2020, there is incomplete understanding of how hotels affect the natural and human environments in Zanzibar and how impacts can be mitigated.
This new project takes a point of departure in the synergy between sustainable tourism and innovation, and the research generated will inform sustainable development within the hotel sector in tropical and subtropical regions. Thus, it is expected that results from the research will provide researchers, practitioners and decision-makers with a stronger, evidence-based understanding of sustainable management of solid waste and environmental, non-chemical mosquito control at hotels with a view to reduce pollution, nuisance mosquitoes and risk of vector-borne disease transmission. This will ultimately be beneficial to the society at large.
The project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is funded by Danida, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and administered by Danida Fellowship Centre.
Global Health Section, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark
Principal Investigator: Peter Furu
State University of Zanzibar (SUZA)
Open University Tanzania (OUT)
Zanzibar Ministry of Health - Malaria Elimination Programme (MOH-ZAMEP)
Aalborg University (AAU)
Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, generating 9.8% of global GDP and 284 million jobs in 20151. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism influences all Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)2, but especially those related to poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and empowerment of communities and youths3. Research shows that sustainable tourism has become an established part of corporate and governmental agendas and that a market transition is underway4. However, the long-term sustainability of tourism is impossible without proper management and commitment of involved stakeholders5 and therefore the United Nations declared 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism6. This project takes a point of departure in the synergy between sustainable tourism7 and innovation8,9, and will provide knowledge, skills and evidence-based new ways of integrating solid waste management, mosquito control and environmental practices that will contribute to strengthening the quality and competitiveness of tourism in Zanzibar.
Tourism on Zanzibar
On Zanzibar, tourism is the largest economic sector and is essential for Zanzibar’s socioeconomic stability, accounting for 27% of GDP, 80% of foreign revenue and 72.000 jobs10. For tourists, accommodation accounts for nearly half of holiday expenses11, and hotel quality is a significant contributor to their satisfaction, return and loyalty. Recent statistics show that tourist expenditure in Zanzibar fell almost 20% in 2015 compared to 2013 while tourist arrivals increased12, which suggests a possible shift in tourist perception of the quality of tourism in Zanzibar. The Government of Zanzibar (GZ) has made sustainable tourism one of its national priorities, in order to address the adverse effects caused by rapid expansion and unsustainable hotel operations10. According to the national research agenda for 2015-2020, there is incomplete understanding of how hotels impact natural and human environments in Zanzibar and how impacts can be mitigated10. To ensure the future of the hotel sector, the GZ encourages research focusing on transitioning tourism into a sustainable industry, which can positively impact future employment and revenue of hotels and communities10. This project will provide knowledge, information and skills that will enable hotels to strengthen competitiveness locally, as well as in a context of international brands, owners, competitors and certifiers which may add to the opportunities of a wider impact of the project.
Responsive management of hotels - organizational contexts
Studies from Zanzibar have highlighted the need to identify barriers to the integration of sustainable technologies at hotels and the promotion of effective approaches that are acceptable to all stakeholders13–15. As noted by the World Bank, there is a growing global demand by investors, governments and consumers for greater disclosure on the sustainability of a company16. This demand has also been acknowledged on Zanzibar, where international tour operators, such as TUI17, are demanding that hotels move towards environmentally sustainable practices. Despite this, the share of hotels adopting environmental practices remains small, which opens up the question of how such practices form and diffuse throughout the organizational structures of the hotel sector? This research project will assist hotels in meeting these demands, by providing knowledge, skills and evidence-based innovative ways of integrating solid waste management, mosquito control and environmental practices. Institutional and organizational studies show that hotels absorb specific social and environmental challenges as business priorities to various degrees, leading them from reactive to proactive strategic corporate initiatives18. Businesses find valuable sources of competitive advantage rooted in environmental differentiation or resource-efficiency and associated cost savings19,20 as well as opportunities for innovation that strengthens business profitability and opens access to new markets21. While institutional channels determine which issues are considered relevant for hotels to act upon, often shaped by strategic responses to external demands, the organizational routines and cultures are the determining factors for how changes are received and committed to during implementation. Assuming hotels have access to the needed flexibility, expertise and resources to change their management towards sustainable practices22, this project will work with four hotels in Zanzibar in order to support the development, testing and adoption of integrated environmental practices that would strengthen the quality and image of Zanzibar’s tourist sector. The project will identify current management practices with a focus on two key areas of sustainability and integrated management i) solid waste management (SWM) and ii) mosquito control.
Solid waste management – an intervention area of study
Unsustainable SWM and the need to improve it has been identified as a major issue by the GZ and research studies10,13,14,23–25 and was strongly emphasized at a one-day stakeholder consultation with 30 representatives from hotels, the GZ, tour operators and local academia undertaken in May 2016 in Stone Town in preparation of this proposal. The main tourist attraction on Zanzibar is the pristine nature and unique ecosystems26, but unsustainable SWM at hotels results in loss of ecosystems26, adverse impacts on communities27 and negative reviews from tourists23. The GZ estimates that 80% of all waste on Zanzibar is generated at hotels and restaurants, but only 20% of this waste is currently collected for proper disposal; the rest is dumped untreated at unauthorized landfills or dumpsites10. The GZ aims to collect 70% of this waste by 2020, but they emphasize that research into sustainable SWM on Zanzibar is urgently needed if this goal is to be achieved10. The clear majority of studies on SWM from Zanzibar have focused on municipal SWM in the capital area of Stone Town25,28–32. Only two studies have focused on the tourism industry: one pilot study on SWM at four hotels, conducted under the BSU II (Building Stronger Universities) initiative, found no evidence of sustainable practices following the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycling) approach that is recommended by the GZ10. Another study sought to assess methods for improving SWM at hotels through development of better bin systems for recycling33. The GZ has stated that they do not have the capacity needed to handle SWM at hotels and has outsourced this responsibility to each individual hotel, leaving them in charge of the entire life cycle management34 of waste (Stakeholder Consultation, May 2016). This project will support the evidence base for improving uptake of the 3Rs approach into SWM at hotels, through identification of life cycles of waste and assessment of integrated sustainable waste management35 (ISWM) interventions which have three dimensions: i) stakeholder engagement; ii) waste flows and systems; iii) sustainability aspects.
Mosquito control – an intervention area of study
At the stakeholder consultation meeting in May 2016, the need for more effective and sustainable means of mosquito control was strongly emphasized by hotel managers, public health authorities and tourist investors. An observational study by State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), found that mosquitoes present a great nuisance generating complaints from guests, one reason why tourists express low interest in returning to Zanzibar (personal communication, Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI), May 2016), and that hotels attempt to control mosquitoes through intense daily (indoors) and weekly (outdoors) application of chemical insecticides. The study also found that over time the effectiveness of spraying was reduced, possibly due to development of resistance to the specific insecticides by mosquito populations. This has led hotels to change to new, costly insecticides and more frequent application (personal communication, ZATI, May 2016). This intense use of chemical insecticides may have detrimental impacts on human and environmental health because of increased occupational exposure and contamination of the immediate environment. A pilot study on mosquito habitats, conducted under the BSU II initiative, recently confirmed the presence of Aedes aegypti in Zanzibar36. This mosquito can carry infectious diseases such as chikungunya and dengue, posing epidemic risks to residents and tourists37–40. Public health authorities on Zanzibar express concern for future disease control as mosquitoes, including Ae. aegypti, develop resistance towards the most commonly used insecticides41,42. Given the intense application of insecticides at hotels on Zanzibar, there is a clear risk that future outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases could erupt in or around hotels. As such, new, nonchemical approaches for control of mosquito-borne diseases are urgently needed43,44. This project will focus on use of non-chemical environmental control (NcEC) approaches at hotels on Zanzibar. NcECs include affordable and simple methods, such as elimination of mosquito breeding sites through environmental management shown effective in various settings45,46. However, there is a dearth of systematic studies assessing the feasibility and efficacy of NcEC approaches to mosquito control within the particular setting of the hotel sector. Hotels on Zanzibar may present particularly promising opportunities for adapting NcEC interventions, as the hotel environment is highly delimited and micro-managed daily with significant staff resources available. However, currently, hotel managers, investors and authorities have very limited access to and knowledge about alternatives to chemical insecticides and maintain high use of these for fear of leaving hotel guests unprotected. The management implications and incentives or disincentives linked with the introduction of NcEC remain unclear; this project will identify and test a variety of NcEC interventions at hotels in Zanzibar, including changes to water storage, landscaping and physical structures. A key priority is to ensure that the interventions tested lead to fully assessed guidelines including efficacy, feasibility, and required managerial changes for sustained impact.
Recent studies in Dar es Salaam and Stone Town reveal that unmanaged solid waste, such as plastic containers, aluminum cans and tires36,47, are among the preferred breeding sites of Ae. aegypti. This highlights the opportunity for combining a focus on improved and integrated management practices and organizational processes for ISWM and NcEC in and around hotels to reduce pollution, nuisance mosquitoes and disease risk. Addressing the expressed concerns from public and private actors in Zanzibar, this project provides an active and engaged support to stakeholders, in particular hotels, in fostering environmentally responsible practices, starting with ISWM and NcEC of mosquitoes.
Evidence-based organizational and management innovations for solid waste management and mosquito control incorporated into the hotel sector on Zanzibar and research generated to inform sustainable development within the hotel sector in tropical and subtropical regions.
1. a. Identify Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) practices of hotel-generated solid waste
1.b. Develop and assess innovative solutions for ISWM
2.a. Assess the efficacy of integrating non-chemical environmental control (NcEC) of mosquitoes into management practices and organizational processes at hotels
3.a. Identify organizational and institutional factors that influence hotels' adoption of ISWM and NcEC of mosquitoes
3.b Consolidate new organizational practices for ISWM and NcEC of mosquitoes by fostering internal acceptability in selected hotels
4.a. Strengthen generic and specialized research capacity including research communication and uptake
The project aims to contribute to the direct enhancement of practices and will use an action research approach (AR)35,53, where several research components (WPs) follow a circular process of planning (baseline results), action (implementation of pilot studies) and fact finding (evaluation) of results from specific interventions. The specific interventions will focus on the integration of ISWM, NcEC and sustainable practices into current hotel practices. The project partner, ZATI, has 100 member-hotels of which a list of potential partner hotels has been identified on the East coast of Zanzibar. For practical and financial feasibility, four hotels will be identified as case studies. Criteria for hotel selection includes: coastal location, size of property, guest capacity, proximity to local communities, ownership, layout and landscaping. The mix of data collection methods that will be employed in the project is explained in the following text as they relate to the various immediate objectives (IO) of the project:
Baseline evaluations (mapping)
IO-1: An analysis of the existing management of waste generated at hotels will be conducted including a material flow analysis54 and a stakeholder analysis55,56. The material flow analysis highlights the current amounts of waste and where it is transferred to during its life cycle. This information will be used to assess the feasibility of interventions for ISWM. The stakeholder and network analysis identifies relevant actors within ISWM on Zanzibar and how they relate to each other in terms of roles, responsibilities, power and knowledge. Secondary data e.g. hotel purchase records and primary data will be collected through key informant interviews, observations and focus groups with hotel staff, government and local authorities and waste handling companies. IO-2: Existing mosquito control practices will be outlined through a questionnaire-based survey administered to hotel management at each of the four hotels. The questionnaire will include issues such as responsible operators; type of control activities incl. quantity of chemical insecticide used; frequency and cost of activities and; type and regularity of impact assessments. Quarter-annual cross-sectional surveys will be conducted at each hotel and their immediate surroundings to identify the predominant mosquito species57,58, the abundance of larval and adult mosquitoes59, insecticide resistance levels60,61 as well as the characteristics of larval habitats identified. IO-3: One proportional, stratified, random survey will target all of ZATI’s member-hotels representing a sample of various ratings, sizes and ownership (national or international), to identify organizational and institutional factors that shape practices of SWM and mosquito control. Qualitative information collected through key informant interviews, focus groups and participant observations will complement survey results by exploring internal and external concerns of SWM and mosquito control as perceived by hotel managers and owners, tour operators, hotel guests and policy makers.
Development of intervention plans
IO-3: Factors influencing the adoption and consolidation of novel practices into hotel management processes and procedures will be identified through participatory workshops (1,5 days) at each selected hotel. During workshops, project partners, hotel staff will identify suitable practices for ISWM and NcEC of mosquitos, and will develop implementation plans (pilots). Results from baseline evaluations, secondary data sources, and various company information (costs, staff time, guest preferences, capacities and compliance mechanisms related to ISWM and NcEC) will be inputs for workshops. Desirable workshops outcomes will be specific pilot projects and associated implementation plans for ISWM and NcEC practices at each hotel. IO-1: ISWM activities may vary between the four hotels, but will all include revised value chain models34 to ensure optimal ISWM performance35 that is also acceptable and feasible for the hotels. ISWM actions may include e.g. waste prevention through different purchasing practices; sorting and processing of waste on site at the hotels; changing contractual agreements with waste handling companies; lobbying for changing waste disposal and processing at local authorities; and innovative solutions to waste management inspired by other hotels on Zanzibar. IO-2: NcEC plans may include a range of control activities to reflect diverse habitat preferences across species. The control activities will be carefully integrated with routine management activities at each hotel, but may also include semi and permanent modification of landscape and structures as well as taking into consideration the optimal discontinuation or limitation of existing control practices involving chemical insecticides.
The ISWM and NcEC plans will be implemented through pilot projects at each selected hotel. IO-1: Hotel specific ISWM pilot projects will follow the Living Labs62 methodology where solutions are implemented, monitored, assessed and re-designed in a cyclical process throughout the study period. The first run will be in collaboration between North and South partners including the hotels. The second run of the process is completed in close collaboration with local stakeholders. The monitoring and assessment are made in collaboration with WP3. IO-2: The efficacy of hotel specific NcEC solutions in reducing mosquito infestations will be tested against the baseline data for mosquito larval habitats and the abundance of larval and adult mosquitoes. The effect on use of chemical insecticide (quantity and type) will also be compared to baseline. All relevant parameters will be measured during quarter-annual crosssectional studies for a period of one year. In addition, insecticide resistance levels will be assessed at the pilot study end-point. IO-3: The implementation of ISWM and NcEC pilots in each hotel will be documented through interviews, participant observations (when appropriate) and personal notes by staff, to illustrate how individuals or groups interpret, adjust and accept organizational changes proposed for ISWM and NcEC.
Assessment of pilots and results
IO-3: Experiences from the implementation of pilots, reflections on synergies or barriers (personal or organizational) that may have influenced outcomes and the adoption of practices will be shared during a second participatory workshop at each hotel including management, operational staff and relevant project partners. Subsequent negotiation and discussion of experiences will be analyzed to understand how companies cope with discontinuities triggered by innovation and subsequent organizational changes. Knowledge from the workshops and data generated during the pilots’ implementation will also be used to analyze the feasibility of converting hotels to new practices for ISWM and NcEC, including a full cost accounting63 that will demonstrate their business value for hotels on Zanzibar. Discussions during the workshops will be recorded together with participant observations and follow-up interviews. The analysis of the entire process of development, implementation and assessment of pilots in each selected hotel, together with knowledge of organizational and institutional factors will be used to extract managerial and policy recommendations for the uptake of ISWM and NcEC practices across the hotel sector of Zanzibar. The impacts of the pilots will be assessed in sustainability terms related to the economic, social and environmental dimension, known as the triple bottom line (profit, people and planet)64. Mechanisms of wider (national and international) adaptation of the generated guidelines such as policy change and requirements for international certification of sustainability will be assessed and standard descriptions provided for monitoring and reporting of implemented ISWM and NcEC solutions.
Building Research Capacity
IO-4: All major research capacity needs will be addressed using a systemic approach to capacity development65. Inbuilt elements of each WP targeting research capacity strengthening of South partners will be coordinated at all levels including personal, supervisory and facility capacity. Targeted training will be provided for enrolled PhD and Master students with respect to research management incl. proposal development, monitoring and evaluation, data collection methods and analysis, research dissemination as well as development, implementation and coordination of all generic and specialized training, communication and dissemination activities.
Ethics and permissions
All involved project partners will conform to current legislation and regulations in the respective countries and adhere to international ethical standards at all times during this project. Ethical clearance will be sought from the Research Ethics Committee of the Ministry of Health on Zanzibar, while each PhD project will require separate approval from the research and ethics review committee of their respective university of enrolment. Following ethical clearance, a national research permit will be sought from the Zanzibar Research Council in the Second Vice President’s Office, while local research permissions will be requested from the Sheha (head of village/community) of each project area.