On 18 July the four businesses participating in the Cape Town Responsible Tourism Challenge met at the Cape Town Tourism head office for a workshop to discuss common issues facing all the businesses.
By this point we’d gone on a site visit to each of the businesses, interviewed each manager and used the information gathered to create a responsible tourism scorecard – simply put a list of what each business was doing well and where there was room for improvement.
At the time of the workshop, all of the businesses were already practicing responsible tourism in some way, even though they may have not have realized it and responsible tourism may not have been their aim in the first place. For example, most of the participating businesses had installed energy saving lighting because it reduces electricity costs (and loadshedding concerns), and off course lower costs mean a higher profit. What was nice was that three of the businesses was separating recyclable waste for collection, even though there is no cost-savings from doing so.
The workshop didn’t aim to tackle all the information relevant to responsible tourism. Instead we concentrated on the areas where all the businesses could improve. These included:
- The best way to track energy and water consumption, and how tracking resource consumption can be useful to a business.
- Ways of reducing waste in a tourism business, particularly from waste from single use items that tourism is guilty of creating in the thousands.
- Composting as a way of turning food waste into valuable and rich soil.
- A plan for handling cleaning chemicals that are dangerous to both people (particularly the staff who are using them) and the environment.
- Ways that the business can reduce its carbon footprint.
- Responsible buying so that the businesses purchases support local businesses, particularly small businesses, and also to ensure that buying choices don’t harm to the environment.
- The information to give guests to get them to support your responsible tourism efforts.
- Different ways to support the community in which the businesses operate. This section was particularly important on the day because the workshop was being held on Mandela Day, a day during which many businesses choose to focus their community-building efforts.
A few weeks after the workshop, we again visited each of the businesses, this time to discuss the plan going forward for each business but we were pleasantly surprised that each of the businesses had already put into place some of the changes we’d suggested at the workshop.