Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Cape Town takes part in World Responsible Tourism Day

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 is the World Travel Market’s (WTM) World Responsible Tourism Day. It is supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and is a day of awareness and action around responsible and sustainable tourism. More than 150 international tour operators and organisations will participate in World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM today. (The WTM exhibition is currently underway in London).

Commenting from WTM, Cape Town Tourism member and pioneer in responsible tourism, Anne van der Tuuk of Abang Africa says, “Responsible and community tourism has gained momentum from a niche tourism sector to a philosophy that is one of the industry’s most exciting developments ever – uniting citizens from around the world into one interconnected, united movement, communicating a significant signal to businesses that the tourism industry means to act, not just talk.”

In 2002, representatives from tourism sectors across the board in 20 countries attended the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, at which a declaration on responsible tourism was agreed upon. The 2002 Cape Town declaration agreed that responsible tourism should:

  • Minimise negative economic, environmental and social impact;
  • Involve local people in decisions that affect their lives, generate greater economic benefits for, and enhance the well-being of, host communities;
  • Encourage respect between tourists and hosts, and build local pride and confidence;
  • Provide more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people;
  • Make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage;
  • Embrace diversity; and
  • Improve working conditions and access to the industry.

The objectives of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day are to drive these changes within the tourism industry by: educating both the sector and individual travellers on more responsible travel behaviour; sharing knowledge about how countries and destinations can be made more sustainable; educating the market on key environmental issues related to tourism; and harnessing the influence of World Travel Market in driving the responsible tourism agenda forward.

Says Nombulelo Mkefa, director of tourism of the City of Cape Town, “Cape Town is a pioneering city when it comes to responsible tourism. We define responsible tourism as ‘tourism that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’. With Cape Town’s name inextricably linked to the definition of responsible tourism, our city has a special honour and obligation. Fortunately, we are blessed with many advantages that, if we continue to work together, should enable us to live up to these environmental, social and economic obligations.”

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism CEO agrees: “Responsible tourism is just one element of a general shift that we each have to make, not just as an industry, but as individual Cape Town residents and human beings. From the moment our children are born, we need to teach them the immense value of our people, our natural resources and the fine balance of it all.”

In 2009 the City of Cape Town adopted the Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan. This commits to adopting responsible tourism, largely as an approach to destination management, to bring about positive economic, social and environmental influences.

More recently, in September this year, the Cape Town Climate Change Coalition launched the “Climate Smart Cape Town Campaign”, which aims to highlight ways for the public to reduce carbon emissions. Climate Smart Cape Town brings facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream media and engages the public in conversation about solutions.

Cape Town Tourism backs each of these campaigns, continues to drive responsible tourism principles within the industry and distributes responsible traveller tips with regard to Cape Town’s communities and natural environment. The fact that the Mother City was the first city to win the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in the Best Destination category in 2009 is testament to the success of this drive for responsible tourism.

Du Toit-Helmbold says, “Industry reports from the World Travel Market confirm that the global recession continues to have a significant impact on long-haul travel. Within this context, people are increasingly seeking original and local experiences. Authentic travel experiences underpinned by responsible tourism practices are becoming non-negotiable for many travellers. Cape Town is acknowledged internationally and has become one of the leading cities in the world when it comes to responsible tourism. Even though considerable progress has been made in addressing the environmental impact of tourism on our destination, we cannot rest on our laurels. In order to achieve sustainability, the tourism industry must continue to place a significant focus on harnessing tourism for local economic development, for the benefit of all communities and for managing the social impact of tourism. Cape Town Tourism is continuously looking for better ways to instil the responsible tourism philosophy and expand existing sustainable tourism mechanisms in our city.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and guest relations coordinator Hannah Deall, +27 (0)21 487 6800, hannah@capetown.travel or see www.capetown.travel.

Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications, Tammy White, +27 (0)21 448 9705, +27 (0)73 202 5041, tammy@rabbitinahat.co.za.

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