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HBD Hotels Group in São Tomé and Príncipe – a good practice example of a green destination

São Tomé and Príncipe, the little-known African country, is comprised of two islands. This small country has become a rising star in terms of sustainable tourism. São Tomé and Príncipe strongly adheres to the minimum impact and maximum experience policy in order to mitigate the environmental and social impacts of tourism. Hotels are certified through the Biosphere Responsible Tourism Standards, and support local production and employment. The goal is to eliminate the dependence on diesel. The PLUS principle developed has the goal to preserve biodiversity, celebrate local culture, uplift the community, and commit to sustainable business and development practices. São Tomé and Príncipe is home to the first hotel in Africa certified through the Biosphere Responsible Tourism Standard – HBD Hotels Group. São Tomé and Príncipe was one of the least visited countries in the world before the Covid pandemic. A tourism board was established for the country to support sustainable tourism and increase the number of visitors. Thus, the board opens English classes for the local people, provides training regarding sustainable tourism and employs them in the sector with the funds received from various business operating in private sector. São Tomé and Príncipe is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, with its large forests, beaches and coves, as well as numerous endemic plants and bird species. São Tomé and Príncipe are home to 27 bird species found nowhere else in the world. The destination offers beach vacations, diving, hiking on mountain trails or extinct volcanoes, snorkeling, fishing, trekking, surfing, whale watching, bird watching and boat trips to its visitors. Visits to the Sea Turtle Conservation Area in São Tomé and Príncipe are accompanied by marine biologists. São Tomé and Príncipe offers a unique experience to its visitors with more than 700 plant species in its national park and 143 different bird species, some of which are endemic. The region is home to the most biologically significant forests and volcanic tapas in Africa, and very rare West African manatee. Attracting great interest of naturalists with its environmental aspects, São Tomé and Príncipe has recently managed to attract the attention of tourists worldwide with their natural beauties and sustainable tourism experience offered. While ecotourism and agroforestry activities are common in São Tomé and Príncipe, the government, private sector and local organizations work in cooperation for sustainable tourism activities. The destination, which houses several attractions for ecotourism with its forests, waterfalls, Pico de Sao Tome volcano, green valleys, cocoa and coffee fields, gathers its visitors and local people in fishing villages and offer a unique experience. HBD Príncipe is an ecotourism and agroforestry business group based in the twin-island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. With four unique boutique hotel properties as well as agricultural operations, their focus is on the sustainable development and conservation of Príncipe. They hope that our achievements, now and as they evolve, will see Príncipe Island considered an inspiring example of sustainable development. As well as being an inspiration to the rest of the world, they aim to show how private investors can work together with regional government and local organisations for good. Hence, their Vision is the sustainable social and economic development in Príncipe and conservation of the island’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and their Mission is to become a global inspiration through sustainable integrated ecotourism, agroforestry, support services and social initiatives. HBD is Príncipe’s largest employer, and as well as being a community of colleagues, all members of their 515-strong team are sustainability change agents. This means that everyone, at every level considers the direct impact that their actions have in relation to HBD’s overall vision, operations and the Biosphere Reserve.