Cape Town joins the world in noting world responsible tourism day

November 7, 2012

The travel industry looks to the World Travel Market (WTM) event today to lead this year’s World Responsible Tourism Day (November 7) through a wealth of debates and presentations on conscious tourism practice, as well as the awarding of the 2012 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards (winners had not been announced at time of release).

Responsible Tourism is defined as tourism "that creates better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit". One of the key challenges for Responsible Tourism identified at WTM is that of broadening access to destinations, particularly for the physically and economically disadvantaged. The conference also looked at ways in which various destinations were regulating and communicating their responsible tourism practice.

Speaking from WTM, the CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, said that the South African tourism industry is embracing responsible tourism, “Cape Town has been setting the benchmark since 2002, when the city hosted the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. Cape Town Tourism has also recently partnered with Fair Trade in Tourism (FTT), a non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable tourism development and facilitates a tourism Fair Trade certification programme. The partnership aims to bring Cape Town’s tourism sector into contact with a tangible, audited programme towards a complete responsible tourism transition.”

Says Councillor Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, City of Cape Town, “Since the adoption of the Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan by the City of Cape Town in 2009, Cape Town has been acknowledged by the Ethisphere Institute of New York as ‘One of 10 cities in the world most likely to become centres of sustainability by 2020’. Ethical Traveler also listed Cape Town as one of the ‘Top Ten Ethical Destinations in the World 2010’. The city was one of the first urban centres in the world to receive the coveted ‘Best Destination’ Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in 2009. The City of Cape Town is committed to responsible tourism, most recently with a pilot project in which 21 city hotels were assessed for their use of energy and instructed as to how to make climate smart changes. The implementation in these hotels will be the benchmark for tourism’s accommodation sector, in terms of economic viability, actual impact (on guests and staff) and as a test case for innovative responsible practices and technology.”

In acknowledging the partnership with industry, he continues, “The City of Cape Town is playing a central role in the rise of responsible tourism by creating an enabling environment for private sector organisations to operate and self-regulate in accordance with best practice.”

Furthermore, South Africa hosts its own Responsible Tourism Awards each year, called the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards. These awards recognise tourism and hospitality businesses that make a real, measurable and continual contribution to responsible tourism and they have played a critical role in creating awareness around environmental management issues within the industry.

Finalists and winners for 2012 are from around the country, with this year’s overall winner named as the Riverside Sun Resort, on the banks of the Vaal River. In Cape Town and the Western Cape, finalists for 2012 include:

Best practice – Economic Impact: Cape Town International Convention Centre: Finalist

Best single resource management programme – Waste Management: The Vineyard Hotel & Spa in Newlands: Winner. The Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company: Finalists.

Most empowered tourism business: White Shark Adventures: Independent Winner.

Investing in people: Cape Grace Hotel: Independent Winner. The Oude Werf Hotel and the Vineyard Hotel & Spa: Finalists.

Best practice responsible tourism examples for Cape Town include:

The Vineyard Hotel and Spa: Has implemented an environmental policy with a number of green initiatives. The recycling programme is such that the Vineyard now recycles 92% of its waste with only 8% ending up in landfills.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre: Has a dedicated environmental task team that advises on trends and issues in environmental management, as well as promotes the greening of events with the Nurture Our World initiative.

AWOL Tours: Offers hiking and cycling tours in Cape Town, which also allows for genuine and real interactions between locals and tourists, besides the obvious eco-friendly aspect of non-mechanical travel.

Green Cab: Green Cab is a green road transport initiative that has reduced its carbon footprint by converting the petrol component of its fleet to run on dual-fuel and the diesel component on Biodiesel, which achieves a saving of 15 to 20% in carbon emissions.

Du Toit-Helmbold concludes, “Not only is responsible travel better for the world, it’s far more interesting and memorable. It’s the future of travel and everyone must stand up and be counted amongst those willing to participate.”

For further information, please contact Skye Grove, Cape Town Tourism PR and Communications Manager, +27 21 487 6800, email or visit

Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications, Tammy White, +27 21 448 9705, +27 73 202 5041,

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