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Responsible Tourism at WTM Africa 2020

 We very much regret that Covid-19 has led to the cancellation of WTM Africa for 2020

The Awards will go ahead and the winners will be announced on April 6th. The presentations will be made on WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Day in 2021 

Thank you for agreeing to speak in the RT programme at WTM Africa, we plan to have a very similar programme ay WTM Africa in 2021 – probably with additional panels on resilience. 

On a  personal not I would add that I am extremely disappointed not to be visiting Africa in 2020

WTM Africa’s official announcement is below 

Best regards

Harold 

Reed Exhibitions Africa has confirmed that Africa Travel Week, which comprises of World Travel Market Africa and International Luxury Travel Market Africa, due to take place in April this year, will now be postponed following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus around the world.  The event will now take place again in 2021.

In a statement released today, Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions Africa said: “We have had to respond to the current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the ongoing conversations with our customers whose welfare is our number one priority.  Due to the uncertainty in the region and around the world, with many of our clients facing company travel bans, we have taken the decision to postpone the event to 2021, which was due to take place from 02 – 08 April 2020.  Our thoughts are with all those affected in these difficult times.” Megan Oberholzer, Portfolio Director for Africa Travel Week added, “We would like to thank the industry for their support in these unprecedented times. All buyers and exhibitors and industry partners will be contacted in the coming days.”

It was way back in 1972 that the UN held the first conference drawing attention to man’s reliance on the natural environment and promoting the concept of Sustainable Development. Every 10 years, the world’s nations have come together and passed more resolutions, fine words followed by too little action. In 2006 the Stern Report costed the action that needed to be taken and clearly demonstrated that the longer we delayed action, the more expensive it would be, and the more disruptive it would be of our economies and way of life. We delayed action and now face two crises widely seen as existential: climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

The Responsible Tourism movement started in Cape Town with the first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in 2002, a side event to the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. The 15th takes place in Helsinki in June this year. The problem with the concept of sustainable development is that it is an aspiration and had to define. Responsible Tourism is about taking responsibility to achieve sustainable development. It can be simply defined as making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. It is based on the values of respect and transparency, creating meaningful and enjoyable experiences, minimising negative impacts and maximising positive impacts. Any form of tourism can be more responsible. The process is simple. Begin by identifying an issue in the destination, or destinations, where you operate. An issue which you can address through the way you do business or manage a destination, take action and tell customers and suppliers what you are doing and why, and remember to report, and take credit for, what you achieve.

Most issues are local; they may occur in many destinations globally, but not everywhere. Potable water is one such issue. Plastic and greenhouse gas emissions are genuinely global issues. Once plastic gets into salt or freshwater it will join the gyros of plastic waste in our oceans, climate change affects all of us, albeit in different ways, flooding and wildfire around the world, in Moscow, with little more than snow flurries, artificial snow had to be brought into the city for New Year. Fossil fuelled travel makes a significant contribution to climate change, and tourism is directly affected by fire, storms and flooding.

On Monday 6th April, the Responsible Tourism Day at WTM Africa this year, we have a panel on decarbonising travel addressing arguably the biggest challenge our sector faces. We’ll be looking in some detail at how credible carbon offsetting is as our sector’s dominant strategy. We have two panels looking at our impact on wildlife, one focused on rewilding the other discussing, in a more workshop style, what more the industry can do on animal welfare. We have two sessions looking at how the industry can work with national parks to ensure that the neighbouring communities benefit from tourism and on Wednesday a session looking at how the sector can engage the communities in the places we use as destinations, to enrich the guest experience and local people. And critically when we are “doing good” how do we best communicate this to our neighbours, customers and suppliers.

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