Responsible Tourism in Cities mini-conference at this year’s INDABA

Cities are key tourism destinations and tourism draw cards for nations. Cities are also home to more than half of South Africa’s populations, and so are crucial sites for sustainable development. While responsible tourism (RT) is central to South African’s tourism policy and a key trend in tourism globally, little focus has been placed on the needs and challenges faced by cities to become sustainable destinations and to implement RT.

Local governments sit at the intersection of tourism and development, and face particular challenges. But tourism requires effective partnerships among government, local communities and the private sector in order to thrive.

Cape Town has a longstanding commitment to RT. Although the journey to become a truly responsible destination is far from complete, the city is recognised internationally as a leader in adopting and implementing RT. 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, RT has become the foundation of the city’s Tourism Development Framework and an official policy has been adopted by the City Council, committing all of the resources and structures of the Municipality to adopt an RT approach.

The city also formalised its commitments to the local tourism industry, signing an RT 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 RT 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 RT-aligned criteria. As a result of these efforts, Cape Town was recognised globally as the Best Destination in the 2009 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, the first city ever to be granted such honour.

The mini-conference will take place on May 6 at the International Convention Centre Durban, a day before the INDABA kicks off. It will approach responsible tourism at two different levels.

The morning session aimed at helping city officials, community organisations, the private sector, academics, NGOs, activists and other stakeholders understand some of the key issues underlying RT in cities, and will equip them with knowledge and resources to make a positive contribution toward implementing RT in their city destination.

The afternoon session will focus on more practical, operational matters pertaining to the tourism private sector, including large SMMEs, larger established businesses and corporate multinationals, when adopting, implementing, managing and marketing RT, supported by case studies presented by experienced industry members.

Presentations will also be broadcast in real-time via the web, allowing for the virtual participation of delegates from around the world. Discussion will also take place via Twitter in real-time. Optional morning and afternoon visits to RT initiatives around Durban will be available. A light lunch will be provided – when registering, please indicate whether or not you will require lunch. The mini-conference will take place free of charge, but there is limited capacity for this event. Please RSVP via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or call +27 (0) 83 508 1066.

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