WTM Africa, the continent’s largest international travel industry event, was held in Cape Town at the CTICC from 18 to 20 April. The City has been a proud supporter of the event since 2015, and this year Mayor Patricia de Lille opened proceedings.
Continuing in its commitment to responsible tourism, the show had a responsible tourism programme. This was supported by sustainability initiatives from both the show’s partners, exhibitors and the City of Cape Town. We’ve summarised the highlights from the show:
City of Cape Town promotes #WaterWiseTourism
The City shared a stand with Cape Town Tourism, promoting the “Save Like a Local” campaign that encourages tourists to come to enjoy Cape Town but use water mindfully. “Save Like a Local” posters were prominent in the venue, at both the stand and on the stage in the conference theatre.
Handouts, stickers, posters and brochures with the “Save Like a Local” messaging was handed out for free at both the Cape Town stand and at the Better Tourism Africa stand. The Better Tourism Africa stand also handed out brochures with information on plumbing maintenance for small businesses.
Several exhibitors, like Cape Town’s President Hotel, also had signage showing what they were doing toward water conservation.
Western Cape’s sustainable stand
Although WTM Africa organisers asks that exhibitors be mindful of the environmental impact of their stands (more here), exhibiting can be a wasteful affair since so much used is custom-made and single-use.
The exception was the Cape Town and Western Cape stand produced by Wesgro which was designed and manufactured using green principles. The stand was designed so that:
- It was made from recycled and recyclable material
- Fiber board used is easily recycled locally
- Lighting is low-energy
- Carbon footprint is lower than that of tradition stands
- It has short supplier lines as it’s made in Cape Town
- Has a modular design for layout is flexible
- Promoted water saving
- Handed out limited printed material and no gifts
- Made use of synthetic plants that can be reused with little resources
- Was produced by a company that practices sustainable operations
It was no surprise then that the stand won the “Most Responsible Stand” at WTM Africa.
Local tourism enterprises featured on buyers’ tours
As part of its commitment to support small and business, for the past three years, local entrepreneurs have exhibited at the City’s exhibition stand. These entrepreneurs marketed their products directly to the top tourism industry buyers from around the world.
This year, the City did something different. Buyers were given a first-hand experience of tourism products on separate tours in the Bo-Kaap and Langa.
In Langa, buyers enjoyed a walking tour of the Langa Quarter – 13 streets and a nucleus of 200 homes which have been transformed into restaurants, galleries, informal bars and craft stores. This will be followed by lunch with the locals. The Bo-Kaap experience included a visit to the Auwal Masjid, the oldest mosque in South Africa, a stop at the oldest spice shop in the area, a visit to the Bo-Kaap museum and a Cape Malay cooking class.
Both tours ended off with buyers enjoying lunch – local style.
City partners with local travel tech company
A six-month collaboration between the City of Cape Town and DiscoverIkasi, a Khayelitsha-based travel tech company, was signed on the first day of WTM Africa. Among the aims of the City’s partnership with the home-grown hospitality platform is to develop skills, empower women, promote tourism among lower-income communities and create marketing material which promotes new destinations.
A collaboration of this kind is among the first between a local municipality and a local hospitality platform.
Launch of the My Water Footprint tool to boost #WaterWiseTourism
The sustainable Wesgro stand was the site of interest on the first day of WTM with the launch of the My Water Footprint tool. The online tool to convince tourists to visit Cape Town and encourage them to stay guilt-free. Not only can they enjoy their stay by being conscious of their water use, the tool lets them calculate their daily water use and then put it to good use. It also gives them options to offset their water footprint by supporting supporting water conservation projects. This water offset tool is a world-first, and hopefully it will help to stem the tide of people choosing not to visit Cape Town because they are worried that they will make a bad situation worse.
The tool was launched by Wesgro’s chief marketing office, Judy Lain, and the founder of Founder of FLOW (For Love of Water), Justin Friedman.
Responsible tourism programme
As ususal, WTM Africa hosted panel discussions around responsible tourism. Topics under discussion with relevance for Cape Town included new business models that support sustainable development and the business case for reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The latter panel discussion included speakers from Cape Town – Mandi Jarman from City Sightseeing, Lance Greyling, the Director of Trade and Investment at the City of Cape Town and Chris van Zyl, the group environmental manager at the Vineyard Group.
African Responsible Tourism Awards
In its fourth year, the African Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony was held on the first day of WTM Africa. With fewer categories in this year’s awards, there was less chance for Cape Town to shine, but it still did as local tour operator – Abang Africa – was cited as “one to watch” in the Best Responsible Cultural Experience category. Organisations from neighbouring towns, Spier and Marine Dynamics, both champions in responsible tourism picked up silver wins. You can read about the awards here.
Although there were no real wins from Cape Town this year, Cape Town is still the undisputed champs at the awards. The total count of Cape Town wins at the African Responsible Tourism Awards is now nine awards over three years. We’re proud of this achievement – a strong showing for any destination.