City’s Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference provides forum for information-sharing

CITY OF CAPE TOWN

MEDIA RELEASE

29 APRIL 2011

City’s Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference provides forum for information-sharing

The City of Cape Town Tourism Department is proudly sponsoring the Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference 2011, with the support of South African Tourism, Cape Town Tourism and other partners.

The City plays an integral role in organising this event, which takes place on Friday 06 May at the Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban. It will see a mass meeting of the tourism industry’s leadership with over 100 delegates set to attend. Hundreds of virtual delegates from around the world will also participate by tweeting their questions and input.

The conference forms part of INDABA – one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African Calendar, which takes place in Durban from 7 – 10 May this year.

The Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference features a number of special guests, including Planeta.com founder, Ron Mader. Planeta.com is the first website dedicated to ecotourism and responsible travel and is the conference’s online media sponsor. Mader, who is based in Mexico, is respected globally as a digital media pioneer and has won numerous awards, including the International Ecotourism Society’s Innovation Award last year.

“We invite the tourism industry and public sector stakeholders to engage on the topic of responsible tourism in the unique context of city destinations. Cities are large tourism centres and also home to more than half of South Africa’s population and are thus crucial sites for sustainable development. Responsible Tourism (RT) is central to South Africa’s tourism policy and a key trend globally. We welcome the space for an increased focus on the needs and challenges faced by cities to become responsible destinations and to implement RT,” said the City’s Director for Tourism, Nombulelo Mkefa.

Mkefa said that in the context of local government, the ‘local tourism’ function of municipalities must be interpreted as developmental tourism at a local level. She explained that tourism requires effective partnerships among government, local communities and the private sector in order to thrive.

The conference approaches these issues at two different levels, namely:

  • The morning sessions will assist City officials, community organisations, the private sector, academics, NGOs, activists and other stakeholders in understanding some of the key issues underlying RT in cities, and will equip them with knowledge and resources to help make a positive contribution toward implementing RT in their city destination;
  • The afternoon sessions will focus on more practical, operational matters pertaining to the tourism private sector, including SMMEs, larger established businesses and corporate multinationals when adopting, implementing, managing and marketing RT, supported by case studies presented by experienced industry members.

Mkefa said that she is proud that Cape Town is recognised across the globe as a leader in adopting and implementing responsible tourism.

“We have around 1000 local tourism businesses in Cape Town accredited to meet minimum RT-aligned criteria. We look forward to the forum this conference provides for us to share with our peers the ways in which RT has become the foundation of the City’s Tourism Development Framework – to the extent that it is an official policy adopted by City Council. Through increasing our networks, we aim to gain insight from the expertise of others on issues pertaining specifically to cities, to share our own lessons learned, and to partner with other South African cities. We also look forward to building on our relationships with the various tourism industry bodies,” said Mkefa.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Development and Tourism, Alderman Felicity Purchase, agreed, adding that because Cape Town’s name is inextricably linked to the definition of responsible tourism, the City has a special honour and obligation.

“In our capacity as destination managers, we are focused on collaborating with all of our tourism and business partners – enabling us to live up to these environmental, social and economic responsibilities. Cape Town is proud to be taking the lead in the Responsible Tourism journey and our interaction with sister city and business counterparts at the Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference is a demonstration of the need to extend our learning to other parts of South Africa. The goal is a virtuous cycle, using the growth of tourism as an engine for improving the quality of life for all residents, and leveraging investments for local residents to support tourism. Responsible Tourism provides a structured way for us to achieve this goal,” said Alderman Purchase.

She added that it is a great pleasure for the City of Cape Town to be the organising sponsor of this event.

“We look forward to exchanging views on the challenges inherent in the implementation of responsible tourism anywhere across the globe and we certainly also look forward to sharing our RT successes in a bid to drum up a groundswell of support in and beyond South Africa’s major cities for further such collaborations,” she said.
The City of Cape Town’s participation at INDABA 2011 is unique in several respects:

  • This is the first time that a Responsible Tourism conference is being held at INDABA. INDABA is the largest annual travel trade fair in the southern hemisphere, with well over 13 000 delegates annually.
  • This is the first time that a strongly social media-based conference is being held at INDABA. It will be the first time a conference in South Africa enables virtual delegates to fully engage with speakers and panellists (the proceedings from both sessions will be broadcast via video and audio in real time via the web allowing for simultaneous virtual participation by delegates around the world).
  • The 2010 Legacy project: Green Goal Pavillion as Responsible Tourism in Cities Pavillion. Networking and branding opportunities will abound at the Responsible Tourism in Cities Pavilion, an eco-friendly 8 x 8-metre iconic cube constructed from 1 700 recycled plastic crates and 20 400 milk bottles, encapsulating Responsible Tourism in South African cities. The National Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, is set to open the ‘RT in Cities’ Cape Town Pavillion while on his tour of INDABA, along with the CEO of South African Tourism, Thandiwe January-Mclean, Alderman Felicity Purchase and Nombulelo Mkefa.
  • A one-stop-shop to hear issues affecting a tourism business’ sustainability – from both the public and private sector perspective. The morning sessions will help 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 help make a positive contribution toward implementing RT in their city destination. The afternoon sessions will focus on more practical, operational matters pertaining to the tourism private sector, including SMMEs, larger established businesses and corporate multi-nationals, when adopting, implementing, managing and marketing RT, supported by case studies presented by experienced industry members.
  • Supported at all tiers of tourism in South Africa. South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism are among those on board with the City of Cape Town, with speakers, panellists and moderators being finalised for the four other major South African cities, i.e. Durban, Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Port Elizabeth. The conference additionally enjoys the support of industry association partners: Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA); Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI); and the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA).
  • The conference takes forward various Responsible Tourism (RT) initiatives already under way. For over the past decade, Responsible Tourism has been central to South Africa’s tourism policy. 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. Cape Town was the first city ever to receive the international Responsible Tourism Award in the ‘Best Destination’ category, in 2009.
  • For the first time, this conference will seek to unpack the needs and challenges faced by city destinations.
    Tourism requires effective partnerships among government, local communities and the private sector in order to thrive, and few cities have managed a destination-wide approach to RT that brings these three groups of stakeholders together. Worldwide, few cities have developed destination-wide RT strategies, policies and action plans.
  • For the first time at Indaba, dedicated morning and afternoon site visits will take place specifically to Responsible Tourism initiatives in the City of Ethekwini (Durban).
  • Post-conference evaluations and discussions will shape the themes, topics and formats for a proposed multi-day conference on RT in Cities to be held in 2013 in Cape Town.

A pre-conference schedule of online discussions will raise awareness, help delegates become familiar with the issues (and one another), and focus the discussion that will take place during the actual workshop.

Optional afternoon visits will be available to Responsible Tourism initiatives in the City of Ethekwini (Durban). These site visits will, unlike the conference and lunch, not be free (costs will shortly be posted on the conference website www.responsiblecapetown.co.za/get-involved/rt-in-cities-2011-conference/).

With spaces filling fast, aspiring delegates are urged to register as soon as possible only via the website. Specific queries can be addressed to RTinCities@responsiblecapetown.co.za.

For further information, visit www.responsiblecapetown.co.za.

End

Issued by: Communication Department, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Sharon Pheiffer, Head: Tourism Destination Policy and Planning, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 483 9085 or Cell: 071 679 3759, Email: Sharon.Pheiffer@capetown.gov.za