Some 50,000 tourists climb Mount Kilimanjaro annually with the help of 300 tour operators who provide guides, porters, tents and food. ‘’The problem is that the vast majority of the more than 15,000 porters who work on the mountain are being unfairly exploited, risking their lives to carry heavy loads while not even receiving their due minimum salary of less than $10/day; and they sometimes only get one meal per day, have inappropriate gear and sleep in appalling conditions’’, says Alexandra Pastollnigg, a former executive in corporate finance whose life was completely changed after climbing Kilimanjaro.
Being aware of what was going on, she founded KiliGATE, a platform that enables tourist to compare and book Kilimanjaro tours that promote fair porter treatment. KiliGATE’s mission is to make it easy for tourists to select and book a quality tour operator that adheres to fair porter treatment practices.
To Pastollnigg, “Unfortunately most tourists don’t know this when they book their tours, and they don’t realise that only a tiny portion of the $2,000 they pay for a climb on average will go out to help the porter and his family live a decent life”.
KiliGATE has partnered with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), a local notforprofit organization that has been working since 2003 to establish fair porter treatment practices. Only the tour operators that follow KPAP’s ethical guidelines and partner with KPAP are allowed to promote their tours on KiliGATE. “This will be of great help to our Partners for Responsible Travel who are setting the premier example of proper treatment on Kilimanjaro”- applauds Karen Valenti, KPAP’s Program Manager.
Pastollnigg believes her company will revolutionise the local tourism industry by creating trust and transparency, thus enabling tourists to make a better-informed booking decision. ‘’I consider KiliGATE to be a social enterprise, halfway between a charity and a forprofit company. By booking with one of our responsible tour operator partners and paying a fair price, tourists will not only make an important contribution to fair porter treatment but also to their own health and safety.’’
“Any initiative that promotes responsible tourism and supports the vital work of KPAP in its efforts to improve the lives of the porters who work on Kilimanjaro should be warmly welcomed and applauded”, comments Henry Stedman, author of Kilimanjaro, The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain.
KiliGATE recently received the Travelife Partner award for its commitment to sustainability and is a member of Responsible Tourism Tanzania (RTTZ). While the company is focusing on facilitating Kilimanjaro climbs to start with, KiliGATE is also looking at partnering with more local NGOs in order to rapidly expand across Tanzania, Kenya and beyond, with the goal to become the leading booking platform for responsible tourism in Africa.