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March 19, 2009

Cape Town sets standards for responsible tourism

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Green Point Flea Market, photo courtesy Brian Snelson

It makes sense for the tourism industry to adopt responsible tourism practices – the market demands it and it’s the only way to sustain a business.

“Cape Town Tourism is dedicated to championing ethical lifestyles and business practices that invest in the future well-being of our communities and environment,” says Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold.

“We are not interested in ‘green-washing’ – our membership criteria set the benchmark for tourism businesses to truly support the three pillars of responsible tourism: care of the environment, sustained economic growth and benefit for the communities within which tourism happens, and unforgettable and authentic experiences for our visitors.”

There is no time for complacency in the industry.  It must invest in solid, practical and firm principles of ethical behaviour, management and lifestyle, balancing the fragile state of our climate, communities, and the natural environment with the need to grow the economy to address poverty and unemployment.

As the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ approaches, attention is being focused on how this event will leave a positive social and environmental legacy, while stimulating sustainable economic development way beyond 2010.

Enter Cape Town Tourism’s Responsible Tourism Strategy for 2010 and the 2010 Green Goal Programme – a set of governing principles which seek to minimise the event’s carbon footprint, conserve water resources, reduce, re-use and recycle waste, promote small businesses, energy efficiency and the minimisation of air pollution, and promote indigenous landscaping and the enhancement of biodiversity in all 2010 (and other) development projects.

Sport captures the imagination of the world and its power in the media can be used to create awareness of social, economic and environmental issues. Hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa and Cape Town presents a unique opportunity to reach tourism businesses, the followers of the teams and the players with a message of sustainable living, responsible business practices and respect for indigenous cultures, not only during 2010 but also beyond.

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Green Point Stadium, photo courtesy Ian Junor

To ensure that tourism entrepreneurs from all economic sectors of the population are able to share in the excitement (and profit) of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Cape Town Tourism has created a business support programme to support small businesses and in particular previously disadvantaged individuals.

With more than 2 700 members, Cape Town Tourism is one of the world’s most representative tourism industry associations, and, as such, has a vital role to play in the promotion of responsible tourism.
Membership criteria now include a responsible tourism health-check. Would-be members are shown how responsible tourism makes real business sense and that they can make a difference through applying simple, practical and responsible changes to the way they do business.

Cape Town Tourism is a proud affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and, along with partners such as Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa, the City of Cape Town and the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, is building on the foundation laid in 2002 with the 1st International Responsible Tourism Conference, held in Cape Town. The Cape Town Declaration born from this historic conference is now recognised as the cornerstone of global responsible tourism.

Ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, it is vital that tourism turns its attention to the protection of those most vulnerable in our society. History shows that for many developing countries the risk of sexual exploitation of children is heightened by events that see a large influx of visitors.

Cape Town Tourism has partnered with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and ECPAT International to raise awareness about this risk through adopting The Code (www.thecode.org). The Code is a set of guiding principles and points of action which aims to end the exploitation of children through travel and tourism.  Through familiarisation with The Code, Cape Town Tourism is helping the Cape Town tourism sector to instil awareness and preventative methods in visitors and businesses and through education of staff.

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