Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Climate change and tourism

Scientists have been predicting for some time that world weather patterns would adversely affect the planet. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation cautioned, “The tourism industry is highly climate sensitive with the effects of a changing climate having considerable impacts on tourism destinations.”

In recent months, devastating floods (in our own country, too), extreme snow and cold and, perhaps to a lesser extent, an out of the ordinary wind in Cape Town, have meant that several tourism patterns have already felt the pressure. Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, comments on this state of affairs.

Gone are the days when we could accurately predict tourism behaviour in the long term. The speed and flexibility of the internet, increasing choice of destination, and a changing climate all contribute to the uncertainty.

Cape Town Tourism believes that now, more than ever, a strong city brand is essential to uphold the core values of a destination, assisting it in cutting through the clutter and overriding the uncertainty with clear brand pillars and values.

Partially in response to the threat of climate change, Cape Town Tourism is working with our city and tourism partners to create a strong, easily identifiable brand for tourism. It must be a brand that survives changing circumstances and this can be achieved through multiple, niche-focused product offerings.

Together with our partners we are embarking on a series of tourism workshops to address how these products are created and marketed.

Responsible tourism is now so much more than a buzzword. Travel and tourism roleplayers must also recognise that they have a role to play in cutting emissions and minimising overall damage to our biodiversity. Enabling visitors to offset the negative impact of long-haul travel with responsible tourism experiences in Cape Town becomes an important part of our niche offering.

Changed thinking and action are necessities if we are to be considered an international destination player – one that cares about so much more than the bottom line. It’s time for Cape Town to seriously climb on board with responsible, people-friendly measures to preserve our tourism assets and ensure that this important economic driver is future fit.

I have been invited to speak at the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism’s (IIPT) upcoming conference on meeting the challenges of climate change to tourism in Africa and the developing world, to be held in partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Zambia between April 3 and 8. I am looking forward to sharing my learnings during the conference via social media platforms and more formally on my return.

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