For the fourth consecutive year, the City of Cape Town hosted and sponsored WTM Africa – one of Africa’s leading business-to-business exhibitions for Africa’s leisure travel industry. The exhibition was officially opened by the City’s Executive Deputy Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson, on 19 April.
Once again, the trade show had a strong responsible tourism programme that included presentations, panel discussions and a dedicated activation space where businesses operating responsibly could present their work. Topics in the programme included the relationship between tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals, how Africa can leverage its rich cultural heritage to attract tourists and importantly for the many small businesses that make up the tourism industry – market access for small and emerging enterprises.
Cape Town tourism entrepreneurs showcased
Understanding that market access is a challenge for small tourism businesses, for the third year running the City partnered with WTM Africa to host entrepreneurs. Twenty small tourism businesses were selected to showcase their products and engage directly with some of the world’s top travel and tourism industry buyers.
Among these 20 businesses, some are no strangers to responsible tourism. Turning Point Guest House is one of the participants of the Cape Town Responsible Tourism Challenge, a City-initiative to encourage small tourism businesses to operate responsibly. The Challenge is drawing to an end but has been a success for Turning Point. Owners Doris and Isaac Manini are now recycling enthusiasts and the small things they are doing to save electricity has paid off. Read more about their achievements here.
Macassar Pottery, another exhibitor on the Cape Town stand, was a contender in the 2016 African Responsible Tourism Awards in the category for Best for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Co-exhibitor, Maboneng Township Arts Experience, won silver in the 2017 awards.
Cape Town shines at the African Responsible Tourism Awards
Siphiwe and Bongani from the Maboneng Township Arts Experience had to wait until the end of the second day of WTM Africa to hear how they performed in the African Responsible Tourism Awards. Overall the news for Cape Town was great – Cape Town businesses won three awards.
Uthando won gold in the Best Tour Operator for Impact in Urban Areas category. Uthando’s urban philantrophic tours capture the hearts, imagination and support of guests and the tourism industry, generating funds for a diverse array of projects. The list of initiatives in Cape Town’s townships touched by UthandoSA is almost endless. In the 2016 / 2017 fiscal year, Uthando is set to exceed R3 million transferred to 45 community projects – and the judges felt that this is a remarkable impact for a tour operator with only two permanent employees.
Maboneng Township Arts Experience won silver in the Best for Engaging People and Culture category. Maboneng Township Arts Experience’s aims to turn townships into tourism towns by attracting tourists using the art. The judges appreciated how this lets visitors meet locals in their own homes and experience the wealth of their culture, as well as providing market access for emerging artists and additional household income for artists and the Gallery Homes.
The Backpack won silver in the category for Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion. Set at the edge of Cape Town’s city centre, the Backpack could quite easily do very well without doing any good. However, making a difference and creating opportunities for better lives is how the team at the Backpack live and work. The judges commended The Backpack for the breadth of their approach to fair employment conditions for their staff, their support of community initiatives and their all-round commitment to responsible tourism.
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.