Tsogo Sun launches their commitment to sustainability in tourism plan, encompassing its corporate social investment programme, environmental management and entrepreneurial development – called SunCares – which unites all its initiatives under one umbrella brand and positions the group as a catalyst for change within every aspect of its upliftment and environmental programmes.

Explains Rob Collins, Chief Marketing Officer of Tsogo Sun, “The Tsogo Sun companies have always been highly sensitised to community involvement and activity – and much has been achieved within our respective programmes – but there was a clear need to bring all the programmes together to build a united brand under which the initiatives can be measured and developed against the group strategy.”

He says that SunCares, which embodies the spirit of Tsogo Sun and its employees, also allows for the implementation of life-changing initiatives for many people in South Africa through carefully designed and managed programmes.

Three Pillars

SunCares consists of three pillars that incorporate the CSI programme (with a focus on the Sport and Performing Art Academies), Entrepreneurial Development, and Environmental Management. “These pillars are creating a solid platform from which Tsogo Sun is able to leverage its considerable resources, experiences, and geographic spread within the hospitality, gaming and entertainment industry to provide the foundation for initiatives that have a lasting impact,” says Dhrupal Amin, Commercial Manager of the Tsogo Sun Group.

Sports Academy

The Sports Academy has a successful history with over 1250 participants from 42 schools, and more than 65 coaches and referees being trained and accredited currently in schools.

The Sports Academy is in part a response to the South African government’s call to introduce sport back into the school curriculum, but it also uses sport as a medium to deliver life skills, leadership skills, and health care training and education to young learners.

The Academy includes the Rugby Academy, the Soccer Academy, as well as netball and cricket initiatives currently being planned and to be rolled out in the near future. Sustainable partnerships between Tsogo Sun and its employees and the Department of Education, the SA Football Association, sports clubs, provincial teams, schools, local business, and communities have been formed to ensure long-term positive impact on individual lives through the programme.

Within the forthcoming few months, several sports initiatives are being held under the auspices of the Sports Academy, which include the Diepsloot Schools Rugby Festival, the launch of a cricket programme in Chesterville in KwaZulu-Natal; a soccer tournament on the West Rand, the launch of a swimming programme in the Eastern Cape, and others.

According to Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun’s CSI Manager, the Sports Academy not only transforms the lives of young learners by developing their sporting talent and providing them with numerous platforms to be selected to play at club and provincial level, but also those of teachers, coaches, referees and community members, by providing them with accredited skills, jobs and procurement deals.

“The model that the Sports Academy operates from is comprehensive and provides a sports programme for a full year, for the respective sporting codes. The programme includes training, tournaments, league games among the participating schools in the area, and specialised academy training out of season for youngsters who’ve been identified with talent,” says Paine, who adds that the Sports Academy is rich with gratifying success stories of youngsters who have made great progress in sports and school work – and that the Academy will continue to find more ways to attract more intensive community participation and contribute to building lives in disadvantaged communities.

Performing Arts Academy

Building talent and capability in the performing arts sector is a natural fit for Tsogo Sun as the leading entertainment and hospitality group in the country. The Performing Arts Academy is playing a pivotal role in revitalising the arts and culture industry in South Africa, primarily through the group’s world-class theatre facilities in Johannesburg, the Teatro at Montecasino and the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City. As with all the SunCares initiatives, the Performing Arts Academy is founded on strong partnerships with relevant bodies that include the Department of Education, and with leading learning and training institutions, which ensure a lasting impact in the young lives it touches.

The performing arts initiative is currently running in Diepsloot near Montecasino and will be starting in August in the southern area of Johannesburg, near Gold Reef City, with 150 learners in the programme ranging in age from 10 to 17 years. The Performing Arts Academy model operates on a one-year programme that includes weekly workshops, concerts and performances in the community, as well as potential opportunities for learners to participate in productions at the entertainment venues within the group in the future. Opportunities for involvement in behind the scenes activities, such as sound engineering, lighting, set design, wardrobe, choreography, and so on, are made available. The Academy is also a conduit through which the youngsters can be reached on other elements of importance, such as health awareness and education and life skills training.

Entrepreneurial Development
Entrepreneurial Development within SunCares is primarily through the Book-a-Guesthouse programme, which is also an ideal fit for the hospitality side of the group’s activities, and which started as a pilot project in Soweto, developing, mentoring and coaching accommodation establishments that displayed the potential to become sustainable enterprises. Today the programme concentrates mainly on the empowerment of black women and the development of their businesses within the local tourism industry, with endorsement by government and regional tourism agencies.

At this stage there are 60independently-owned and operated bed & breakfast and guesthouse establishments in the programme, which are located in four provinces – Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape.

The Book-a-Guesthouse programme operates on a three-year model, during which time intensive business support is provided in the first year, general support in the second year, and monitored support in the third. “In this way, by the end of the third year, the guesthouses are independent, well-run and well-managed sustainable businesses,” says Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s Group Empowerment Manager. Graduates remain in the programme as alumni. They give back through the new entrepreneur mentorship programme and they continue to receive access to sales and marketing and further development and support opportunities within the programme.

“Our year-on-year results within the member establishments are steadily improving and over the seven-year period that we have been operating, we have seen them achieve a combined estimated average of R15.5million in turnover, and through their sustainability, more than 2000 jobs have been indirectly created. It’s proving to be an excellent way for the group to add value through skills enhancement within the broader hospitality industry, while also investing in the growth of the South African economy,” adds Tothill.

Environmental Management

Careful Environmental Management has seen the group reduce its energy consumption by 10.8% through the installation of heat pumps and energy efficient lighting at all gaming and hotel properties and become Africa’s largest environmentally-certified hospitality group. “In fact, so cutting edge is the group’s approach to energy consumption that since 2010, we have saved 19.8 million kWh of energy which is the equivalent of powering 18 000 homes for a month,” says Collins.

“The sustainability of our business practices and our communities is core to our business strategy and in this vital third pillar of the SunCares programme, Tsogo Sun is a catalyst for change through partnerships that champion the wellbeing of our planet.”

Tsogo Sun partners with the Heritage Group and Green Globe, and has developed property-specific environmental management systems, which deal with water management, waste management and procurement, and other environmental aspects.

Continued and concerted efforts are being made to reduce freshwater and energy consumption, improve waste recycling levels with a goal of ‘zero waste to landfill’ by 2017, implement a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions management strategy, implement a climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy across all operations in 2012, and other initiatives.

“The three pillars of SunCares are the foundation from which we anticipate that, through partnerships in the respective sectors, we will see consistent project development across all brands and properties across the country, for maximum benefit to the communities and the environment. It’s a commitment that we as a group are proud to make,” concludes Collins.

Source: Breaking Travel News