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November 05, 2009

Cape Town in line for international tourism award

St James Beach

The City of Cape Town is delighted to be shortlisted for the Responsible Destination Award at this year’s prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, to be held at the World Travel Market in London. The awards will be presented to the winners at a ceremony on World Responsible Tourism Day on November 11.

Founded by responsibletravel.com in 2004, the awards recognise individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the cultures and economies of local communities and contributing positively to biodiversity conservation.

The central tenet of the awards is that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people.

The awards cover 13 categories applicable to destinations and the tourism industry in the achievement of responsible tourism.

Harold Goodwin, chair of the judges’ panel and professor of responsible tourism management at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK, says that more than 140 entries were submitted to the panel of adjudicators this year.

According to Goodwin, the willingness of organisations and businesses to take responsibility for their actions and to improve their destinations as tourism venues is impressive.

Cape Town Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato and tourism industry leaders adopted Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism Charter on September 28, 2009. The City has positioned responsible tourism as a key policy principle of its Tourism Development Framework and a Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan has been developed.

As part of the drive towards becoming a responsible destination, a code of conduct for visitors to the destination is available. The City has also established community tourism forums in disadvantaged areas to raise awareness of tourism and to manage cultural and heritage resources.

“At a conference on sustainable tourism in destinations held in Cape Town in 2002, the ratified Cape Town Declaration provided the basis for the world definition of responsible tourism,” says Alderman Felicity Purchase, Mayoral Committee member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism.

“Since then, the City has invested some R15-million in the development of tourism infrastructure in previously disadvantaged areas. Over the past two years, we have supported 200 tourism businesses.”

According to Mansoor Mohamed, the City’s Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, “responsible tourism makes sound economic sense. A significant and growing number of tourists are looking for a ‘different’ travel experience and a higher quality product. They want to get closer to the people of the country they visit and experience its natural and cultural heritage. They wish to do so, however, with a good conscience and in the knowledge that they are doing so in a responsible way and without having any adverse effect on the countries that they visit and the destinations they frequent.

“Cape Town has recently won major international tourism awards, including Africa’s Leading Destination Award two years in a row, and this can, to some extent, be attributed to the efforts already made in making Cape Town a leading responsible tourism destination.”

The City of Cape Town’s Tourism Director, Nombulelo Mkefa, says being shortlisted for the award is an honour – and that it will motivate the City to further improve its responsible tourism approach.

“Our next priority is to assist and create awareness of responsible tourism practice in City departments, to facilitate the implementation of responsible tourism practices in tourism businesses, and to promote awareness of tourism among our residents, visitors and stakeholders,” says Mkefa.

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