Blue Ventures is a social enterprise that has achieved international acclaim for its simple yet highly effective conservation and ecotourism models. During our six-week expeditions, paying volunteers travel to our sites in Madagascar, Belize and Timor-Leste where they receive scientific and SCUBA training from a resident team of local and international conservation experts. Living and working alongside traditional fishing communities, our ecotourists play a direct role in supporting local conservation activities. These expeditions generate secure and sustainable seed funding to allow our conservation teams to develop community-led initiatives in collaboration with our growing network of partners.
Establishing conservation tourism activities in such remote settings is logistically challenging, and requires considerable sensitivity towards communities, cultures, and prevailing economic conditions. Blue Ventures’ ethos is to employ, source and buy locally whenever possible, and our consistent, long-term presence fosters a sound understanding of local contexts, helping to build strong relations, trust and credibility with our partners.
In keeping with this approach, all our volunteers now spend a portion of their expedition in homestays, whereby host families welcome pairs of ecotourists into their homes. Blue Ventures works with a network of host families at each of the three expedition sites, supplying training and technical and financial support to help the hosts provide a comfortable and rewarding homestay experience. The hosts introduce their guests to their culture, cuisine and customs, and earn a reliable income in return.
Due to differences in the cultural and economic contexts between these three locations, each programme has evolved slightly differently, but the overall process is the same. In this factsheet we recommend four main steps to follow in order to set up a homestay programme.