The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Dan Plato, along with major tourism associations, today signed the Cape Town Responsible Tourism Charter committing the City of Cape Town and the industry to responsible tourism behaviour and practices.
Associations that signed the Charter with the City are the Federation of Hotel Associations of South Africa (FEDHASA), the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), which represents the private sector of the region’s incoming tourism industry, the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) which represents the interests of conference organisers and venue owners and Cape Town Tourism.
The Charter is based on the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism which was signed when Cape Town hosted the first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in 2002.
The responsible tourism initiative seeks to simultaneously maximise the economic, social and environmental benefits of tourism while minimising costs to destinations. Simply put, Responsible Tourism is tourism ‘that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.
The Charter seeks to achieve three sustainable development objectives i.e. economic growth, environmental integrity and social justice. It places an onus on those in the industry to achieve these objectives.
The Charter establishes the basis for sustainable tourism that will contribute to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment; protect the value of the local lifestyles and heritage and minimise the impact on the environment by reducing resource consumption.
The Charter focuses on positively influencing significant tourism groups such as:
* The City of Cape Town
* City funded tourism organisations
* Tourism sector organisations
* Individual tourism enterprises
* Educational institutions
Mayor Plato said, “Responsible Tourism makes sound business sense. A significant and growing number of tourists are looking for a “different” travel experience and a higher quality product. They want to get closer to the people in the country they visit and experience its real natural and cultural heritage, but they wish to do so in good conscience and in the knowledge that they are doing so in a responsible way and without having any adverse effect on the countries that they visit and the destinations they frequent. Cape Town has recently won major international tourism awards, including Africa’s Leading Destination Award two years in a row, and this can to some extent be attributed to the efforts already made in making Cape Town a leading responsible tourism destination.”
Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, commented on the significance of the Responsible Tourism Charter: “Ours is a city of contrasts. Cape Town has made its mark internationally as a premier tourist destination and boasts incredible natural beauty and good infrastructure. This is juxtaposed with social problems and poverty that are directly related to our colourful past and troubled history. The tourism sector in Cape Town is well placed to lead in terms of responsible practice and can make a real difference in Cape Town by implementing small changes to the way we live and do business. We must invest in solid, practical and firm principles of ethical behaviour, management and lifestyle, balancing the fragile state of our climate, communities and the natural environment with the need to grow the tourism economy to address poverty and unemployment.”
With 255 days to the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in June 2010, a Green Goal programme has been put in place to ensure an environmentally-responsible event. Lessons learnt from this will change the events industry in the city as waste is minimised and water and energy are used responsibly.