Cape Town takes the lead on Responsible Tourism in Destinations

Cape Town takes the lead on Responsible Tourism in Destinations
It was in Cape Town in 2002 that the concept of Responsible Tourism in Destinations was launched at the 1st International Conference held in Cape Town as a side event to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Cape Town Declaration definition of Responsible Tourism  is used by the World Travel Market and UNWTO for their World Responsible Tourism Day.

In 2009 Cape Town won the award for most responsible destination in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards. The City of Cape Town has taken responsibility for identifying and prioritising local issues from a responsible tourism perspective. The City�s Tourism Department has worked in conjunction with its colleagues in the city administration and with the tourism industry to develop a Responsible Tourism Charter which commits both the industry and the city government to address the local priorities and to report on progress.  They have committed to develop the principles into a corporate Responsible Tourism Policy within 6 months and to develop a corporate Responsible Tourism Implementation Plan with 12 months. Signatories have committed to define measurable goals and to monitor and report publicly on progress.

Heidi Keyser of  ICRT South Africa, and one of our Associates in the ICRT at Leeds Met,  has been the lead consultant working with the City to develop their strategy which has engaged not only the industry trade associations and their members but all relevant department in the city government.

The key resources are
November 2009 Responsible Tourism Policy for the City of Cape Town
This contains

The Policy
Cape Town's Objectives
Policy Principles Economic, Social and Environmental
The Cape Town Priorities
Implementation Mechanisms and Processes
The work which has been done in Cape Town is very impressive. There are three particular aspects of the approach which should be replicated.

1. A “whole of government approach” linked with an effective strategy for engaging the whole industry.
2. The clear objectives – policy, implementation, monitoring and transparent reporting.and a timetable
3. Focus – not 52 criteria but a clear focus on what matters most in Cape Town if tourism is to be used to make Cape Town a better place to live in and a better place to visit.

2008 also saw  the publication of a very useful brochure on Responsible Tourism in Cape Town – a good place to start.

Cape Town has established a web page with links to all the background papers and reports.

Around the world people will be watching progress with interest, if Cape Town delivers on the strategy they will be world leaders.

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Harold Goodwin