The Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA), an initiative of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), got underway yesterday with a summit on Responsible Tourism.The summit saw invigorating and interactive discussions amongst local, continental and international travel and tourism operators.
Delegates and speakers from across Africa, United States, the United Kingdom, as well as locals, contributed to a day of thought-provoking and rigorous debate. Topics ranged from business linkages, traveller’s philanthropy, climate change and carbon off-setting.
Mmat?at?i Marobe, Chief Executive Officer of the TBCSA, said the agenda of the Responsible Tourism Summit, was somehow assessing the status of the sector and how the industry is meeting its obligations towards responsible tourism.
Various speakers from the travel and tourism enterprises, academia, NGOs and government took a closer look at their various roles and share their experiences on what they are doing to make a difference.
According to Marobe, vitually everyone present agreed that the times have changed and the agenda has also moved away from seeing responsible tourism as one of the ‘green agenda’. She said experts acknowledge that the current times bringing major challenges and new opportunities not only for business but also the world where travel and tourism forms such a crucial part.
Speaking at the summit, Professor Harold Goodwin, the Director of International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, said responsible tourism should be seen as a way that companies should conduct their business, rather than just another way of saving costs or being socially responsible.
He said: “The tourism industry has over the years brought many people in the mainstream of the economy and helping to break the chain of poverty. Therefore the trickledown effects must be felt by all, as this industry is the leading provider of jobs and prosperity.”
Marobe said the summit showcased some of the most innovative examples of responsible tourism are coming out South Africa, citing as an example CC Africa, which is now operating in six countries including India with its successful philanthropy expeditions.
It also featured the likes of Mr Adama Bah, Chair of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, The Gambia, who said the issue of Responsible Tourism has been taken seriously in The Gambia.
He said: “Our model links tourism and agriculture where locals are provided with an opportunity to be suppliers of vegetables to the hospitality industry and this exercise has created a ‘win win’ situation for the country as jobs are created and poverty is alleviated.”
According to Marobe, the summit hosted before the official opening of the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa aims to create action that will advance responsible tourism development and practices and unlock the full potential of the industry.
To find out more about the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa visit www.hica.co.za