Wednesday November 14th sees the first of the World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Days, a wide range of organisations are using the WTM World Responsible Tourism Day logo to pledge their support for the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which were endorsed by an international conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations organised in Cape Town, as a side event to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in 2002.
Drawing on the work we had done with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa drawing up guidelines on what the industry could do to take responsibility for achieving more sustainable and socially just forms of tourism in South Africa, those present at the conference wanted to remind the industry, government, communities, conservationists and travellers and holidaymakers that we all have a responsibility to make tourism more sustainable.
It is our responsibility to do what we can to make tourism better; to make tourism better for those who are visited and better for the tourists who do the visiting. Increasing numbers of consumers are looking for real, guilt free holidays, where they get more out of their holiday and often are able to put something back, by buying from a local craft worker or artist or contributing to a local charity. Enriching holidays ? holidays which offer a richer experience to the tourists and which enrich the destination.
At World Travel Market on World Responsible Tourism Day there will be a wide variety of initiatives reflecting the diversity of our world's cultures, habitats, and species and the wealth of our planet’s cultural and natural heritage ? there is a broad movement for change, some will move quicker than others, different individuals and organisations will have different priorities reflecting the world’s diversity, but at the heart of the movement is the principle of responsibility ? the impetus to take and exercise responsibility, to make a difference.
Ask yourself what you can do to make tourism better, to make it more sustainable, and do it! Help make the world a better place to live in and to enjoy.