Cape Town isn’t just a top tourist destination. It’s a city that thinks seriously about its systems, and how it can become more sustainable and more liveable for all the people who live, work, invest and visit here (this local trend was recently reported on by The New York Times in their piece “Hip cities that think about how they work”).
Our tourism industry is no different, recognising that responsible tourism is both good for business and good for communities. That’s why, from 13 – 17 February 2012, industry members will be participating in a global conversation on responsible tourism.
Each year, over a period of seven days known as Responsible Tourism Week, the global tourism industry explores and brainstorms the practical application of sustainable tourism ideas – such as supporting community development and conservation projects, or buying locally made and fairtrade products for interiors and guest amenities (as well as encouraging guests to do the same). The aim is to raise awareness around responsible business practice more broadly, and to educate industry members and the broader public about the business and community benefits to a more sustainable approach to tourism.
Responsible tourism helps local industry
Capetonians are being invited to be responsible tourists in their own city (start by reading and taking Cape Town Tourism’s travel responsibly pledge) and connect with the Responsible Cape Town movement. You can also join and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #rtweek2012.
This is your opportunity to learn from international best practice – as well as let others know what responsible tourism means to you, demonstrating in practical ways how environmental and social responsibility makes good business sense. Says the City of Cape Town’s director of tourism, Nombulelo Mkefa:
The perception of responsible tourism is slowly but surely changing. Even though the industry still has lots to learn about the great impact travelling responsibly can have on the destination – the environment, economy and its people – the awareness has risen. Responsible tourism can be pursued by any tourism business without having to compromise on comfort levels of guests.
Building a sustainable tourism industry
Responsible Tourism Week is a key event in the City’s responsible tourism programme , says Councillor Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing:
Whilst we recognise that tourism is a key economic driver, the City of Cape Town is acutely aware that responsible tourism is crucial for building a more sustainable and inclusive city for both residents and visitors. Responsible tourism asks us to consider the long-term. We fully support Responsible Tourism Week, which we hope will spark much debate around different ideas, methods and design to create solutions for the challenges we face.
For more information read this Responsible Tourism Week post and see the resources available on the City of Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism page. Make sure to contribute to the global conversation on Twitter (Follow @respcpt and @CapeTownTourism, and remember to hashtag your tweets #rtweek2012) and on Facebook.
Image: The City Bowl Market on Hope (or the Hope Street Market) is a neighbourhood food-lovers market that celebrates the city’s cultural diversity at meal time. (Come hungry). Photo by Cape Town Tourism.