RT in Cities Conference 6 May – Register Now!

Responsible Tourism in Cities Mini-Conference

Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (Durban ICC), Durban, South Africa
One day only, 6 May 2011 (The day before Indaba opens)

Time: 08h30 – 16h00, tbc.
Cost: Free of charge. Registration spaces limited.

Description of the conference:

Engage with Responsible Tourism issues unique to city destinations

Cities are key tourism destinations and tourism draw cards for nations. Cities are also home to more than half of South Africa’s population, and so are crucial sites for sustainable development. While Responsible Tourism (RT) is central to South Africa’s tourism policy and a key trend in tourism globally, little focus has been placed on the needs and challenges faced by cities to become sustainable destinations and to implement RT.

Local governments sit at the intersection of tourism and development, and face particular challenges. But tourism requires effective partnerships among government, local communities and the private sector in order to thrive.

This conference approaches the issues at two different levels.

  • The morning sessions will help city officials, community organizations, 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.

Presentations will be broadcast in real time via the web allowing for simultaneous virtual participation by delegates around the world. Questions will be submitted and parallel discussion will take place via Twitter in real time.

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 to Responsible Tourism initiatives in the City of Ethekwini (Durban) will be available.

The conference is hosted by the City of Cape Town Tourism Department and supported by South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism

Programme Themes:

1. The roles of city governments (local authorities) in RT:

Morning session topics:
What cities can and cannot do well with regards to tourism, RT, and sustainability. How are city functions linked to responsible tourism (e.g., planning, zoning, health, security, education, etc.)? What levers are available and how can they be used effectively? What kinds of policies can work? How long does it take and how much does it cost?

Afternoon session topics:
What resources are available from local authorities? How businesses can best engage with government to tap them. How do local authorities affect tourism businesses and their destination? What are common misperceptions about the roles of local authorities and tourism? How are laws and regulations changing that will affect tourism businesses? Are public amenities (parks, pools, etc.) subject to the same rules as the private ones?

2. Cities, RT and the marketplace:

Morning session topics:
Marketing and selling city-based RT experiences; how RT impacts on a destination brand; promoting a “responsible” destination; understanding the RT consumer in South Africa’s core target markets.

Afternoon session topics:
Where is the demand for RT coming from, in which markets, and who to tap those markets? What are the routes to market for RT products? What difference does certification make in the marketplace? How to balance RT messages in the marketing mix. How to balance sustainable destination information with product-specific content.

3. The business case for RT:

Morning session topics:
What are the particular financial issues associated with implementing RT and adhering to RT management that are faced by the tourism private sector? What is different about being city-based? Are there different cost, risks or opportunities for taking responsible action by operators and facility managers, accommodation and service providers? What real data can we learn from? Do investors, managers, corporates and others view the financials of RT differently, and if so, how and why?

Afternoon session topics:
What does implementing and managing RT really cost? Does RT ever pay back in financial terms? What are practical ways of getting started, and what are proven phased approaches to getting there? Where can I find quality suppliers and vendors to assist me? What are fair prices to pay? Are there programmes to help offset these costs (e.g., SWH, CFLs, etc.)? What about financing? Will there be negative financial implications or penalties for non-compliance – what does compliance mean? Will include case studies presented by experienced industry members.

4. Effective destination-wide collaboration on RT:

Morning session topics:
Who are the key stakeholders in city-based tourism and what are the roles they can play? What structures and mechanisms for collaboration can work? How can communities play a more effective role? How can academic, policy, community and business interests be co-ordinated, and greater trust built?

Afternoon session topics:
Should RT certified businesses network separately or together with all tourism businesses? For RT, is the key tourism cluster alignment local, regional, national or by product type or by RT focus? How do RT issues fit into the overall tourism industry agenda? What are the roles that others can and should play, and how do we hold one another accountable? What is best practice? How is ‘success’ measured? How do businesses ensure they are getting value for membership and participation?


Delegates planning to attend will be required to register for the morning and/or afternoon sessions specifically (note that both sessions can be attended).

The morning sessions will be in the following format:

  • 5 minute contextual overview
  • 15 minute engaging TED-like multi-media presentation by an authoritative speaker focusing on one or more key issues
  • 25 minute moderated roundtable discussion with the speaker and 2 – 3 additional experts. Questions will be taken from the audience throughout.

The afternoon sessions will be hands-on, with a break between first two sessions and the second two.

A lunch break will be provided with light finger lunch. Delegates will need to indicate whether they would like to include lunch as part of their registration.

Optional morning and afternoon visits to Responsible Tourism initiatives in the City of Ethekwini (Durban) will be available on a limited seating basis. Morning excursions will be aligned to the topics and issues to be raised in the afternoon sessions, while afternoon excursions will be aligned to those of the the morning sessions. Once the details of the excursions are available, those already registered will be asked to confirm their interest.

All sessions, lunch and excursions will be provided at no cost on a first-come basis.

Registration and logistics

Complete the form to submit your registration for attending the mini-conference in person.

Those interested in participating virtually

Organising Sponsor

City of Cape Town

Cape Town has had a longstanding commitment to Responsible Tourism. Though the journey to become a truly responsible destination is far from complete, the city is recognized internationally as a leader in adopting and implementing RT.

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. Since that time, RT has become the foundation of the City’s Tourism Development Framework and an official policy has been adopted by City Council, committing all of the resources and structures of the Municipality to adopt an RT approach.

The City also formalized its commitments to the local tourism industry, signing an RT Charter with Cape Town Tourism, SAACI, SATSA and Fedhasa, and partnered effectively with the Provincial Government in implementing Host City Cape Town’s Green Goal 2010™ action plan for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. These partners have implemented many RT initiatives of their own, with Cape Town home to more Fair Trade in Tourism-certified businesses than any other city in South Africa, and over 1000 local tourism businesses accredited to meet minimum RT-aligned criteria. As a result of these efforts, Cape Town was recognised globally as the “Best Destination” in the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards, the first city to ever be granted such an honour.

The City is looking to build its relationships and networks for implementing RT, to gain insight from the expertise of others on issues pertaining specifically to cities, to share its own lessons learned, and to partner with other South African cities.

Supporting organisations

Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town Tourism is the City of Cape Town’s Official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for destination marketing, visitor and industry services. Cape Town Tourism has a robust product development programme that helps link local product with market insights and demand, one of many programmes provided for the tourism industry. The Cape Town Visitor Strategy is recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation as the world’s best. Cape Town Tourism is focused on growing Cape Town as one of the world’s greatest cities to visit, live, work, study and invest in and as a city leader for Africa.

 Partner organisations