The City of Cape Town is delighted to be shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards to be held at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London. The awards will be presented to the winners at a ceremony on World Responsible Tourism Day at the WTM on 11 November.
The awards have 13 categories. The City of Cape Town is to be considered for the Responsible Destination award. It is the only municipality among 35 entries nominated in this category.
The City’s Deputy Executive Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson and Mansoor Mohamed, the City’s Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, will attend the ceremony.
The City’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato and tourism industry leaders adopted Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism Charter on 28 September 2009. The City has positioned Responsible Tourism as a key policy principle in its Tourism Development Framework and a Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan has been developed. As part of the drive towards becoming a responsible destination, a Code of Conduct for visitors to the destination is available. The City has also established Community Tourism Forums in disadvantaged areas to raise awareness of tourism and manage cultural and heritage resources.
Founded by responsibletravel.com in 2004, the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards are run in association with headline sponsor, Virgin Holidays, and partners World Travel Market, The Daily Telegraph and Geographical Magazine.
They recognise individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the cultures and economies of local communities and contribute positively to biodiversity conservation. Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judges and Professor of Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Metropolitan University says that more than 140 entries with detailed responses were submitted to the panel of adjudicators this year. He added that the willingness of organisations and businesses to take responsibility for their actions and to improve their destinations as tourism venues is impressive.
The awards are the most prestigious and competitive of their kind in the world. Now in their sixth year, their central tenet is that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. The awards cover categories applicable to destinations and the tourism industry in the achievement of responsible tourism.
“At a conference on Sustainable Tourism in Destinations held in Cape Town in 2002, the ratified Cape Town Declaration provided the basis for the world definition of responsible tourism,” said Alderman Felicity Purchase, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism.
“Since then, the City has invested some R15 million in the development of tourism infrastructure in previously disadvantaged areas. Over the past two years we have supported 200 tourism businesses,” she said.
Mansoor Mohamed, Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, said: “Responsible Tourism makes sound economic 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 of the country they visit and experience its natural and cultural heritage. They wish to do so, however, with a good conscience and in the knowledge that they are doing so in a responsible way 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.”
Cape Town has a vibrant tourism industry that welcomes some 3,7 million visitors annually and contributes substantially to its GDP. Tourism is labour intensive and therefore has the potential to create more jobs.
The City’s Responsible Tourism strategy is intrinsically linked to a range of other sector policies, programmes and initiatives aimed at developing a sustainable, attractive and successful city. “These include initiatives such as the Draft Green Building Guidelines, 2010 Green Goal Programme, Solar Water Heater By-law, City Events Policy, State of the Environment Reporting, Biodiversity Network Strategy, Smart Living Handbook, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town Design Indaba, Water and Waste Management By-laws and many other initiatives,” Mohamed said.
“Being shortlisted for these awards is an honour and will motivate the City to improve its Responsible Tourism approach. Our next priority is to assist and create awareness of responsible tourism practice in City departments, to facilitate the implementation of responsible tourism practices in tourism businesses, and to promote awareness of tourism among our residents, visitors and stakeholders,” says Nombulelo Mkefa, Director of Tourism at the City of Cape Town.
“The Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan prepared by the City is presently being considered by the relevant Portfolio Committees and is expected to be presented to Council for adoption before the end of the year,” she said.