Welcome to our new member – Tiritose
Tiritose (meaning “we are together” in the Zimbabwean Shona language) was established with a very clear goal in mind: to promote Zimbabwe as a destination of choice and develop ethical and impactful programmes. We spoke to its founder, Wesley Maraire, about Tiritose’s commitment to sustainability and bettering the future of Zimbabwe.
How did Tiritose get started?
While I was in university in Cape Town, South Africa, I worked as a Resident Advisor for CIEE and IES Abroad, and this exposed me to the frontlines of international education. My proximity to the students meant I could wholly appreciate the gaps that existed in the student and youth travel value chain. I started organising volunteering opportunities at youth centres and soup kitchens in communities, as well as overland tours across Southern Africa during semester breaks.
This experience opened my eyes to the value of exchange programmes for the students as well as for host communities, and once I moved back home to Zimbabwe in 2015, I was determined to play my part in facilitating the national re-engagement programme with the international community.
We fully embrace the spirit of mushandirapamwe (teamwork). It is this ethos that determined our focus areas of healthcare, conservation, innovation and education, as these are the pillars of our country.
And why is Tiritose different to other organisations operating in Zimbabwe?
Firstly, we are the only Zimbabwe-registered and operated student and youth travel organisation, meaning 100% of the funds stay within the country. We are also the only organisation in Zimbabwe undergoing a B-Corp as well as certification by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council through Control Union. Our laser focus on programmes i.e. healthcare, conservation and innovation differentiate us from other industry players who spread themselves thinly across disparate fields.
Tiritose is a registered travel agent, which allows us to operate tours to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We are in a unique position to provide an end-to-end bespoke experience to our programme participants. Additionally, our internships and faculty-led programmes have been approved to transfer credit by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Ohio State University College of Medicine who send their students to Zimbabwe through Tiritose.
Can you tell us a success story?
Our overarching goal is to facilitate the reconstruction of Zimbabwe and take it out of isolation from meaningful contact with the rest of the world. With this in mind, our key success story has to be the establishment of the first addiction recovery centre in Zimbabwe; The Addictions and Recovery Trust in collaboration with Western Counselling, a UK addictions recovery centre. I led the engagement with the Ministry of Health & Child Care, which resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Tiritose, the Ministry and the new organisation, The Addictions and Recovery Trust. Subsequently, Western Counselling have made trips to Zimbabwe to train personnel on how to run an addictions centre employing the 12-Step Programme.
What is your key focus for the near future?
We are focussed on consolidating the success we have achieved in the last four years. The future represents more ethical volunteering opportunities for individual responsible travellers, academically robust faculty-led programmes, professionally rewarding internships, impactful service learning programmes as well as life-changing tours.
We will continue to emphasise sustainability across our programmes, so that we continue to be the trusted provider in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa within a few years. You can expect to see us working with more high schools, universities and collaborating more with outbound student and youth agencies.
What do you consider to be current trends in educational and youth travel?
- Authentic experiences: The trend leans towards students and youth seeking out authentic experiences when they travel; meeting knowledgeable locals and participating in sustainable projects that will continue to run once they have left.
- Guided flexibility: student and youth travellers enjoy their independence and have come to demand a balance between a set itinerary and flexibility.
- Content creation: Young travellers want to capture their memories and share them instantly; their friends decide where to go based on social media feed In addition, service providers need to capture and upload moments that young people may miss – such footage has to be conversational.
- Impact: students and youth travellers are after making a lasting impact on the communities, as well as their own lives. Programme impact reporting is now more important than before, and providers have to be transparent by generating impact reports.
How do you ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with Tiritose?
I am an accredited member of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety & Health. Therefore, Tiritose has a robust internal policy, which we help our partners throughout the value-chain, to implement. It is also the reason why we have a 100% safety record on all our programmes and tours.
For programme participants from universities, we contribute to the pre-departure course on campus. For individual participants and groups not aligned with universities, we provide a comprehensive pre-departure package that helps them to prepare. Each participant receives an emergency card, which lists the contact details of the police, ambulance, hospital and a 24/7 Tiritose staff member. The Tiritose Risk Management Policy has an evacuation plan in case of disturbances within the country.
What do you hope to get out of your WYSE Travel Confederation membership?
Tiritose is at a stage where we have proven the effectiveness of our concept and gained traction organically over a period of four years. We are entering an exciting growth phase and want to leapfrog traditional student and youth travel providers by implementing ethical programmes that are sustainable. WYSE Travel Confederation gives us a platform to launch that strategy and offers opportunities to interact and meet industry players and agents. 2019 onwards, we are pro-actively seeking partnerships within the WYSE Travel Confederation network who share the same ethos as Tiritose. I am looking forward to attending WYSTC 2019 in Lisbon to start this journey.
Tiritose is an in-bound sustainable travel company offering student & youth travellers opportunities to work & travel in Zimbabwe within the fields of healthcare, conservation and innovation. They provide city sightseeing, day trips as well as multi-day tours.
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Associate Member
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