Help Cape Town fall in love with responsible tourism!

The dates are set for the 2011 Responsible Tourism Week. This unconventional, online “unconference” begins next week, on Valentine’s Day (February 14), and continues until February 18, 2011.

In Cape Town, we’re planning to participate by helping some of our pioneers, leading thinkers and innovators in responsible tourism share their stories and perspectives. We would like to invite you to tell your own responsible tourism story.

We are requesting that you write a brief opinion piece (500 words as a target, but more or less will be fine) on one of the topics below, or a similar one of your choosing:

  1. What are the qualities that make cities great for both locals and visitors, and where is Cape Town succeeding and falling short in this respect?
  2. What do you see as the crucial steps to be taken over the next three to five years if Cape Town is truly going to deliver on its potential to become a responsible destination? What are the biggest risks?
  3. What are some of the unknown stories of responsible tourism in Cape Town? Who are the unsung heroes or key figures that go under-recognised?
  4. How would you change things, if you were in charge and had the power, to make Cape Town a truly responsible destination?
  5. What is your biggest hope for responsible tourism in Cape Town? And your greatest concern?
  6. How do you enjoy the Mother City responsibly? What are your favourite places and experiences?
  7. When you travel, how do you take steps to act responsibly in the places you’re visiting?

The piece can be personal and informal, as it is intended for posting on the www.responsiblecapetown.co.za blog, www.capetown.travel/blog and also may be included on the blogs and e-newsletters of our other responsible tourism partners: the City of Cape Town, the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) in the Western Cape, the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) in the Cape, and the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).

The audience for the piece is comprised of Responsible Tourism Week participants from around the world: tourism business owners, academics, travellers, members of social movements, media, students and others, including the general public.

If you are willing to participate, we would like your piece by Friday, February 11. If you could kindly indicate your willingness as soon as possible (email media@capetown.travel and editor@responsiblecapetown.co.za), and let us know which of the topics you plan to write about, that would be greatly appreciated. Please also source and forward a photograph of yourself, and any images that will help to support your writing, if possible.

Background on Responsible Tourism Week

Responsible Tourism Week is a fun mash-up exploring down-to-earth applications of noble concepts including responsible tourism, the local travel movement and ecotourism, with practical and inexpensive Web 2.0 technologies.

2011 marks the third year for Responsible Tourism Week, which was initiated and activated by Planeta.com, the global journal of practical ecotourism. More about 2011 Responsible Tourism Week from the Planeta wiki:

The event is free and there’s no jet lag! It’s a great opportunity to learn about new initiatives and it’s an even better venue for networking – collaborating with old friends and colleagues and making new contacts. How to participate? See the suggestions below. We have options for everyone who can invest a bit of time (one hour) to a lot of time (20 hours).

Simply put, this online unconference is an excellent way to broaden and deepen our dialogue about sustainable practice and tourism. Responsible Tourism Week encourages participants to articulate their core values and the way they put noble ideas into practice. We spotlight living, breathing examples of responsible tourism. Responsible Tourism Week provides an opportunity to introduce new events, tours and research projects as well as an opportunity to summarise recent events.

One of the key objectives of Responsible Tourism Week is to create incentives for continuity – we’d really like to hear updates on recent tourism conferences and events and previews of upcoming events that touch upon the core values of responsible tourism. Another key objective is to strengthen relationships with existing contacts and make new friends!

You can start the preparations now by documenting the stories you’d like to share and by registering on the Web 2.0 channels you’d like to master in 2011. During the week you’ll have the attention of the world. We will highlight the most interesting tweets on Twitter, photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube and recommended blogs and wikis.

More at planeta.wikispaces.com/rtweek2011.

Background on Responsible Cape Town

Responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism aimed at maximising benefits (economic, social and environmental) and minimising costs to destinations. Simply put, responsible tourism is a tourism that “creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit”, a phrase coined in Cape Town in 2002 and now widely used around the world.

In 2002, the first international conference on responsible tourism in destinations was held in Cape Town, with the ratified Cape Town Declaration becoming the world’s definition for responsible tourism. Since that time, responsible tourism has become the foundation of the City of Cape Town’s tourism development framework, and an official policy has been adopted by city council, committing all of the resources and structures of the municipality to adopt a responsible tourism approach.

The city also formalised its commitments to the local tourism industry, signing an responsible tourism charter with Cape Town Tourism, SAACI, SATSA and FEDHASA, and partnered effectively with the provincial government in implementing Host City Cape Town’s Green Goal 2010™ action plan for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. These partners have implemented many responsible tourism initiatives of their own, with Cape Town home to more Fair Trade in Tourism-certified businesses than any other city in South Africa, and over 1 000 local tourism businesses accredited to meet minimum responsible tourism-aligned criteria. As a result of these efforts, Cape Town was recognised globally as the best destination in the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards, the first city to ever be granted such an honour.

Information on Cape Town’s journey to becoming a responsible destination along with resources to assist and background on the partners involved can be found at www.responsiblecapetown.co.za.

Responsible Tourism Charter signatories:

  • City of Cape Town
  • Cape Town Tourism
  • SATSA Western Cape
  • FEDHASA Cape
  • SAACI
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