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February 10, 2014

The importance of responsible tourism in Cape Town


Responsible Tourism” is about tourism that’s sustainable, and protects local communities and the environment. Photo courtesy Cape Town Tourism

Editor's Note:This article was first published on February 16, 2011  and has since been updated.

We’re celebrating Responsible Tourism Week 2014 , a global initiative from February 10 to 16, but what exactly does that mean?

Responsible tourism (RT) is, as described by the City of Cape Town, “an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximising economic, social and environmental benefits and minimising costs to destinations”.

What does RT mean?

What that means in layman terms is that we as a city are hosting visitors and managing our tourism businesses in a way that is beneficial to our communities and doesn’t damage our natural resources. The aim is to make Cape Town a better place for locals to live in and a better place for tourists to visit.

Job creation, feeding schemes, conservation, recycling, volunteering holidays and more are just some of the ways in which the Mother City is supporting responsible tourism.

Annual events like the Design Indaba create awareness of local artists and their fantastic work, also emphasising making a better world through design, while customised tours take visitors to townships and local communities, showing them the bigger picture of who makes up Cape Town, and what makes all of it so special. All of this helps improve our image as a sustainable, responsible destination.

Cape Town is, in many ways, at the forefront of global responsible tourism. In fact, Capetonians can be proud that our Mother City won the 2009 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in the best destination category at World Travel Market in London. With millions invested in the development of tourism infrastructure in previously disadvantaged areas and continued support of local businesses, Cape Town takes responsible tourism seriously and is rightly rewarded for it.

Here are a few responsible tourism establishments and projects in the Mother City:

The Vineyard Hotel & Spa

The luxurious Vineyard Hotel & Spa in Newlands is an eco-friendly and award-winning establishment with a proactive approach to responsible tourism. It employs green practices such as using electricity generated at the Darling Wind Farm, South Africa’s first commercial wind farm, using recycled paper, and serving fresh, organic food. More than just a wonderfully designed accommodation venue, the Vineyard is proof that luxury and responsible tourism can work well together.

AVIVA’s school feeding scheme

Tourists looking to give back to the community can assist with AVIVA’s worthy school feeding scheme in Table View. Though situated in an established suburb in the city, AVIVA helps hungry schoolchildren at a local public school, West Riding, by providing much-needed meals and educational assistance.

Whether on a one-week or five-week volunteer holiday, visitors make a huge difference to the Table View community. When they are not volunteering at the school, visitors have time off to enjoy cultural and coastal experiences around the Mother City, including the popular wine routes.

Avis Rent a Car

Water conservation is the champion cause of the Cape Town International Airport branch of Avis Rent a Car. Since May 2010, this enterprising rental agency has been conserving 85% of its water by installing a 180 000-litre water storage reservoir.

This reservoir captures rainwater from the Avis buildings during wet weather, which is then reused at its carwash facility. Avis is committed to its green journey and continues to develop new and exciting responsible tourism initiatives.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Not just responsible for the amazing cable car rides up and down our stunning mountain, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is also extremely environmentally conscious, and is the only attraction to have been awarded the highest level of responsible tourism status – Platinum – as part of the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.

With a strict policy that covers water conservation, recycling, pollution and fire management, the company is determined to ensure the protection of one of our most precious wonders. Chemical toilets, designated smoking areas and restricted pathways are just some of the protective measures in place.


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