Cape Town – a Responsible Tourism destination of note

Cape Town now has a Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan. The reason for the plan is to further enhance the city's position as a leading tourist destination, particularly as more and more travellers demand responsible travel as their holiday of choice.

Responsible tourism, though something of a buzz word, is also sometimes known as 'green' tourism or 'ethical' tourism and is best understood in relation to its three pillars: environmental integrity, which focuses on water, energy, solid waste (like plastic bottles and the like); social justice, which deals with skills and social development; and economic growth, which emphasises enterprise development.

As Mansoor Mohamed, the City's Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism says:

“Responsible Tourism makes sound business sense. A significant, and growing, number of tourists are looking for a “different” experience and a higher quality product. They want to get closer to the people in the country they visit and experience its real natural and cultural heritage. This is a global trend as consumer’s expectations of their holidays change.

Cape Town has recently won leading awards, including Africa’s Leading Destination Award two years in a row, and this can to some extent be attributed to the efforts already made in making Cape Town a leading responsible tourism destination.”

Responsible Tourism is where the destination provides tourists with a holiday that allows them to feel that they have a positive impact by supporting the local economy, contributing in some way such as to the conservation of wildlife and local heritage and decreasing their toll on the environment. It helps to create better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.

Cape Town already has a number of responsible tourism initiatives, and the broad objectives of the policy and action plan are to coordinate these initiatives into a results-based campaign, to create awareness, and to produce credible and verifiable information (particularly as there are a number of unscrupulous businesses that are jumping on the eco bandwagon and it can be difficult to tell the green from the greenwash).

The Responsible Tourism Campaign, agreed upon during the consultative process involving the industry and local government, is a two year action plan that will focus on priority issues linked to the three pillars described above.

The campaign will use a responsible tourism barometer to record contributions and performance against selected indicators, which will set Cape Town apart from other destinations that measure performance at an enterprise level only.

September is Tourist Month and the campaign will launch with the signing of a Responsible Tourism Charter for Cape Town by the City. The Charter can be used in marketing material in a similar way as it is used in other parts of the world, and each signatory will develop a corporate responsible tourism improvement plan.

Source: City of Cape Town