Inspired by the need to provide sustainable living for her people, including access to sustainable energy, transport and housing; Africa is seen to take up the tech challenge by investing billions of dollars in the development of tech futuristic cities. The continent is surely making a global mark with its avant-garde innovations, from cutting edge cities to mobile money payment technologies; a move that has attracted the attention of global innovators such as Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg.
While almost every sector of the African economy is set to benefit from the innovations, the tourism industry will no doubt have a big share from the developments. Sprouting tech cities will become major tourist attractions; if not for the magnificent beauty, for proof to many that Africa is not about desolation but rather of absolute determination to overcome all odds and stand tall in the face of the world.
Visitors will also be attracted to other destinations in the continent, to experience the beautiful naturalistic existence between man and nature. For instance, during his recent tour of Africa, Zuckerberg not only visited various technology hubs in Nigeria and Kenya, but also “got to see amazing natural beauty and wildlife from around Lake Naivasha” as he posted on his Facebook page. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online hotel booking portal, lists 5 budding futuristic cities, that are set to boost the continent’s tourism industry.
1. Konza Technology City – Kenya
In its official website, Konza is described as a sustainable green city with smart technology that will attract 17,000 jobs, $400 million in annual wages and generate $1.3 billion in GRP in Phase 1. This world class technology hub is considered a major economic driver for Kenya, that will help the country attain middle-income status by 2030. Located on a 5,000 acres of land 60 kilometers South of Nairobi in Machakos, the multi-billion dollar ‘Silicon Savannah’ will be a software development hub as well as a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub, with a vibrant mix of amenities. Konza is set to complete in a span of 20 years and its ground was broken in March this year.
2 . Hope City – Ghana
H ope to mean “Home, Office, People and Environment”, Hope City was launched in March 2013 by President John Mahama and is considered Ghana’s Technopolis; and will become one of the tallest skyscrapers in Africa at 270 meter high. Located approximately 30 minutes West of Accra in Prampram, Hope City sits on about 1.5 million square meters’ area and is set to transform Ghana into West Africa’s tech hub. Once completed, Hope City will provide business, leisure and residential space for about 25,000 inhabitants and aims at creating a whooping 50,000 jobs; including in the hospitality industry.
3. Eko Atlantic City – Lagos, Nigeria
This ambitious project in Lagos Nigeria is built on the reclaimed land from Atlantic Ocean off Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island and will host approximately 250,000 residents while creating job opportunities to about 150,000 others. Eko Atlantic City which is expected to use self-sustaining green energy sources for power, aims at enhancing Nigeria’s status as a stronger tech and financial hub in Africa. It is set for completion this year.
4 . Safari City – Tanzania
This satellite city located in Mateves, Arusha, Tanzania, offers this East African country an opportunity to provide sustainable living to its citizens. As its name implies, Safari City will also give safari tourists a chance to stay in world class accommodation while touring Tanzania’s northern parks and the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro. This will go a long way in boosting the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, gaining more confidence from both local and international tourists.
5 . Centenary City – Abuja, Nigeria
Another one from Nigeria, Centenary City will boast of an inter-connected urban center with cutting edge technology characterized by various amenities including world-class hotels and resorts. While it is expected to serve as an economic and political tool to secure foreign investment for Abuja and Nigeria as a country, the technopolis will also be a major attraction for both local and foreign visitors; due to its luxurious touch of style. This will boost revenue inflow from the tourists and a ripple effect will be witnessed in the entire tourism and hospitality industry in the country.
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National Child Protection Week kicked off on Friday May 27 and, also taking into account the looming winter holiday season, this enlightening report on the work of Plettenberg Bay-based social worker DR KAREN SPURRIER should not be ignored.
INCREASING tourism numbers in third world countries, like South Africa, affect their economies and certain aspects of their society positively; however, there are concomitant negative effects that expose the dark side of the tourism industry.
One of these is the escalating Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (CSECTT) – particularly child prostitution (CP) in the context of tourism, a phenomenon known as child sex tourism (CST).
Although tourism plays an important role in creating the perfect storm of poverty-stricken or drug-addicted children colliding with wealthy tourists, it is not solely responsible for this phenomenon.
A lack of research available in South Africa prompted Dr Karen Spurrier, a local social worker in private practice, to research this phenomenon on the Garden Route and in Cape Town.
Dr Spurrier researched the subject interviewing local social workers, psychologists, NGO and welfare staff, adult survivors of sexual exploitation by tourists, the police services, and the hospitality industry.
Dr Spurrier’s research showed that factors such as drug abuse, poverty, and family dysfunction pushed children of all races to the street, and as a means to survive they engage in sex work, enabling tourists (i.e. local – out of towners) and foreigners (mainly men, but also women of varied sexual orientation) to commercially sexually exploit both boys and girls, from as young as nine years of age, leaving them with physical and psychological scars.
The results of Dr Spurrier’s research have been confirmed by similar findings through research conducted by Fair Trade Tourism, in conjunction with world authority on child sex tourism, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Child Trafficking).
Titled ‘The Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism – Country Specific: South Africa 2015 Report’, it was launched in Stellenbosch on May 12.
According to this report, ECPAT International’s African network considers South Africa as one of the countries most affected by child exploitation in travel and tourism.
In Dr Spurrier’s study, the accounts and recollections of adult survivors in relation to their commercial sexual exploitation in childhood showed that:
• The adult survivors arrived on the street at a very young age, mostly due to poor circumstances at their homes.
• They were sexually assaulted, raped or exploited at between nine and 11 years of age – very shortly after their arrival on the street.
• Children of all races were commercially sexually exploited and the adult survivors specifically mentioned black, white, and coloured children.
• Both male and female children were commercially sexually exploited.
• The effects of the CSEC include feelings of depression, sadness, confusion, guilt, shame and embarrassment, along with feeling responsible for the exploitation.
• The adult survivors as children were paid between R50 and R1,500, with additional ‘gifts’ sometimes totalling more than R3,000.
• The adult survivors as children entered the sex ‘industry’ for various reasons, including poverty and a lack of other means to survive, which led to so-called ‘survival sex’, addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, the presence of naiveté and lack of knowledge that comes with the natural immaturity of young children.
Child sex tourists or exploiters can be anyone, but have been described by adult survivors and NGOs as mainly, but not only, white ‘executive type’ wealthy males, of varying sexual orientation.
The adult survivors described their exploiters as locals and foreigners, as well as long-stay visitors often described as ‘swallows’.
Local perpetrators were from areas other than those they perpetrated in, and foreigners were mentioned as being from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Nigeria, and Somalia.
Nigerians were specifically mentioned as intermediaries and pimps. German men were singled out as ‘end users’ – those who had sex with the children – and sometimes acted as intermediaries.
The exploiters engaged sexually with the children at various localities including streets, both upmarket and low-end hotels, apartments and private homes.
Perpetrators used various substances such as drugs or alcohol when interacting with the children and often encouraged the children to do the same (i.e. utilise drugs or alcohol) either prior to or during sex.
They were sometimes violent or threatened violence towards the children they used for sexual encounters. Violence included being thrown out of a moving vehicle or being threatened with a firearm.
Generally perceived to be aged between 50 and 70, perpetrators sometimes required the children to perform unusual sexual acts, exposed children to pornography, or involved them in the production of pornography.
Significantly, perpetrators were more prolific during special events attracting tourists to cities or towns, with the Knysna Oyster Festival mentioned specifically.
Another area of concern that became apparent through the research results highlighted the emergence of ‘volun-tourism’, which refers to short-term volunteer experiences that travellers often combine with travel for work, study or leisure.
While volunteers are hugely beneficial to understaffed and underfunded local organisations, this is also seen as a loophole for exploiters.
The country-specific South African report by Fair Trade Tourism states: “The involvement of volun-tourists in activities that bring them into direct contact with children creates opportunities for preferential and situational offenders to gain access to potential victims. This is the case at schools, refugee or IDP camps, shelters, orphanages, etc.
“Interviews with travelling child sex offenders (TCSOs) noted that they often served as professionals (e.g. teachers) or volunteers to facilitate their abuse of the children in their care – a finding consistent with other, larger-scale studies.”
“All volunteers and staff that work with children should be police checked as a matter of course and if they hail from outside South Africa, an Interpol check should be done,” says Dr Spurrier.
She urges guesthouses, hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation establishments as well as restaurants to be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour, to report their suspicions and to keep a copy of their reports for follow-up purposes.
“The onus is on these establishments to report any behaviour deemed suspicious to the authorities, or to risk being complicit in the abuse,” Dr Spurrier cautions.
“Often when guests book in without prior arrangements and want to pay cash, one should be on the alert. Sometimes they leave their ‘daughter’ or ‘son’ in the car while they check in late at night. This is cause for suspicion and should not be ignored.
“Don’t look away – report what you see!”
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This week, two events have pushed the revival of the tourism industry to even greater heights. The first one is the ongoing World Trade Organization ministerial conference that has seen the country hosting up to five thousand delegates.
Hosting such a huge delegation has meant good business for hotels, especially those with world class accommodation. One hotelier, for instance, says that his hotel is full house as a result of the conference.
“Our hotel is fully booked thanks to the ongoing WTO Conference. The timing was also perfect because it is almost Christmas. We do not have available accommodation until next year and we are very happy,” said Bidwood Suites Hotel General Manager Ambrose Mwendwa.
It has also validated the country as a safe and ideal destination for business travellers.
The second event is Kenya being voted as the world’s leading safari destination by World Travel Awards (WTA) beating countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa among others.
The ‘Oscar’ of the tourism industry voted for Kenya in different categories which include Africa’s leading airline in the business class category which Kenya Airways won.
The major endorsement of Kenya Airways will likely revive the name of the national carrier after the turbulent times it has been facing such as recording Sh25.7billion in losses.
Diani Beach scooped Africa’s beach destination putting the country ahead of other contestants. Other winners include Africa’s leading cruise port which Port of Mombasa won, Africa’s leading Eco-Lodge scooped by Sanctuary Olonana and Africa’s leading Green Hotel won by Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve also won Kenya Africa’s leading National Park while Finch Hattons won Kenya Africa’s leading Safari Lodge. Additionally, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa scooped the continent’s leading spa resort.
Kenya Tourism Board was also a big winner scooping Africa’s leading tourist board.
Twiga Tours was also a big winner taking the world’s leading luxury safari company and the world’s responsible tourism award. It also clinched Africa’s Responsible Tourism Award and Africa’s leading luxury Safari Company.
“We congratulate Kenya on this deserving win and encourage the country to continue their commitment to preserving the unique heritage bestowed to the country for the sake of generations to come,” said WTA President Graham Cooke adding that Kenya’s win was an endorsement of the destination known as home to authentic safari.
These events follows other successes such as hosting Pope Francis late last month and US President Barack Obama in July which put Kenya on top of the tourism map.
They also come at a necessary time after the tourism industry faced problems following close to two years of turbulence in the industry after isolated terror attacks cases made Kenya get served travel advisories bringing tourism on its knees.
South Africa is beginning to reverse a number of controversial and unpopular visa regulations introduced earlier this year after pressure from its own tourism industry.
The rules brought into effect in June meant anyone arriving in the country in the company of a child had to prove parenthood or guardianship – by way of an “unabridged” birth certificate – while lone adults flying in with their offspring had to show they had the consent of their non-travelling partner.
Designed to tackle child trafficking, the rules came under heavy criticism from tourism groups within and outside of South Africa. Reports this year from the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) showed that confidence in the travel industry was at its lowest since 2010, and that the number of overseas visitors had already started to fall. It expected the country to lose 100,000 visitors over 2015 at a cost of 1,4billion rand (£66million).
In response, the department of tourism has announced a number of concessions to the regulations.
Travellers with children will now have details printed in their youngsters’ passports so parents will not be required to carry birth certificates. The carrying of parental consent from a non-travelling partner is now no longer mandatory but instead “strongly advised”.
The government is also reconsidering rules introduced in 2014 that meant all visa applications must be made in person at a South African mission, making it particularly difficult for tourists in the likes of Russia, India and China to apply for entry. South Africa is now accepting applications via post from countries where no missions exist, and is looking to allow travel companies in certain countries to process visa applications.
CEO of TBCSA Mmatšatši Ramawela welcomed the changes, which will be made over the next year, and said they are “a step in the right direction”.
“Our priority is to address the uncertainty that is currently in the market around the travel requirements for destination South Africa – whether one is travelling for leisure or business – and to restore tourist confidence in our destination,” she said. “Thus, we wish to take time to study the finer details of the Cabinet approved recommendations before we make further pronouncements on this matter.”
Tlali Tlali, a spokesperson for national carrier South African Airways, said the airline welcomes the changes “with a great sense of relief and excitement”, adding: “South African Airways ( SAA ) welcomes this development as this will enable those travellers who were discouraged by what appeared to be onerous immigration requirements to now reconsider travelling to South Africa again.
“We trust that the changes effected will strike a necessary, yet delicate balance between the safety and security concerns on the one hand and tourism interest on the other.”
Though much of the impact on the nation’s tourism has come from the effects of visa regulations in the likes of Russia and China, concerns were expressed in June that the laws relating to travelling with children would put British families off travelling to South Africa, despite British passport holders not requiring a visa to visit the country.
A poll by Telegraph Travel at the time of more than 700 readers found that two thirds might be put off South Africa for a family holiday.
Jennifer Chilcott, South Africa specialist at Imagine Travel, said the concessions will help, if only to save UK travellers hassle.
“I don’t think it has really affected our business in terms of families travelling with kids. If they want to go, they’ll make a plan and stick to it,” she said.
“However, there have still been some issues of people getting to the airport and not having quite the right documents they needed.
“The bigger impact for South Africa is countries that need a visa to go there and have trouble acquiring them, whereas the birth certificate was an inconvenience but it’s not really putting people off travelling – unless the people are now not enquiring at all.”
Grant Thorton says the tourism industry suffered more damage than they had expected.
JOHANNESBURG – The consultancy that first warned the tourism industry would suffer massive losses when new travel regulations were introduced, says the damage they did was worse than they had expected.
On Friday cabinet reversed an earlier decision by the Department of Home Affairs to introduce regulations requiring biometric visas for tourists and unabridged birth certificates for children travelling to South Africa.
Grant Thornton advisory services’ Lee-Anne Bac says the tourism industry suffered more damage than they had expected while these regulations were in force.
“Looking at what has happened to our tourism industry, we are estimating that, due to immigration regulation, [we could have lost around 500,000 tourists this year].”
While political analyst professor Sipho Seepe says there are lessons here for government about making policy.
“The arrogance of ministers working in isolation and not wanting to be interfered with should be a thing of the past.”
Tourism minister Derek Hanekom has said he’s grateful that these changes are now being made.
At the same time, the tourism industry says it’s going to take time and money to rebuild the markets it lost during these time controversial travel regulations were in force.
Bac says there’s hard work ahead for the tourism industry.
“It’s going to take a lot on time, energy and money to restore our reputation; to get the communication out there out there about the changed regulations.”
Seepe says this episode may not actually damage Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
“He is young so he is going and in government you learn and make mistakes. But what is good for him si to climb down.”
Gigaba had strongly defended the regulations saying they were required to stop terrorism and child trafficking.
Danish companies have a lot to offer South Africa. They can provide experience, know-how and innovative solutions.
The partnership between South Africa and Denmark is long-standing and significant, going back to the struggle for democracy and the subsequent transition process after 1994. In 1986, Denmark was the first country to impose unilateral trade sanctions against the apartheid regime and, since the advent of democracy, we have continued our close co-operation and assistance in support of the new South Africa.
Today, it is obvious that South Africa has come a long way. Indeed, South Africa’s journey in the past two decades is one of the great triumphs of the late 20th century.
In parallel to South Africa’s rapid development as a country, the bilateral co-operation between our two countries has matured as well. From partnering on development, we now engage in a political and – not least – economic partnership on equal terms. To express the transformation in a catchphrase: we’ve gone from aid to trade.
In part because of our historic ties, South Africa has in recent years become a close and vital economic partner of Denmark; today, many Danish companies are deeply engaged in this attractive market with investments worth millions of rands. They focus strongly on corporate social responsibility and assist in skills transfer, inclusion and job creation. In addition, each year tens of thousands of Danes visit this beautiful country, contributing to growth in the South African tourism industry.
That being said, I am convinced that many more opportunities exist to further increase bilateral trade and to further deepen our relationship. It serves as a testimony to this growth potential that Frederik, the crown prince of Denmark – accompanied by the Danish minister for environment and food and the minister for business and growth – will lead a business delegation to South Africa at the beginning of November. The business delegation consists of nearly 50 Danish companies in three key sectors: energy; water and environment; and food and agriculture.
Danish companies have a lot to offer South Africa. They can provide experience, know-how and innovative solutions that can prove useful in meeting specific South African needs. As such, these sectors, which mainly fall into the category of the green economy, have been carefully chosen to match areas of high priority to South Africa.
From a Danish perspective, there is no contradiction between sustainability and economic growth. In fact, Denmark’s green transition in the past decades is a testimony to the opposite: green solutions not only serve the environment but can also create lasting economic growth. We wish to share this know-how with our South African partners – both public and private.
As expected, there has been great interest shown by the private sector of Denmark in joining the delegation and to explore the South African market. Yet the number of companies joining Prince Frederik and the ministers in November has far surpassed our initial estimate.
There are several good reasons for this strong interest and for why South Africa generally is the preferred destination for Danish companies that wish to do business on the African continent. Strong institutions, an attractive investment climate, substantial public investments in infrastructure, including green infrastructure, and a steadily growing middle class of consumers cement South Africa’s position as the entry point of choice.
Danish companies are also reassured by the deep relations between our two countries, which span informal people-to-people relationships and formal memorandums of understanding in strategic sectors of mutual interest. An example is our bilateral renewable energy programme, through which Denmark currently supports the connection of renewable energy sources to the grid, energy efficiency in public buildings and the mapping of wind resources. I am proud to say that this programme helps secure cheap, clean energy for the South African people.
During the visit, South Africa and Denmark will add to our current collaboration by entering into a strategic government-to-government partnership in the water sector.
In the coming months and years, we will exchange experiences and lessons learned, and focus on capacity-building with regard to innovatively managing water resources – all with a view to providing efficient basic service delivery to South Africans.
South Africa’s green transition is already underway, as is evident from the Independent Power Producer Procurement programme’s success. Denmark wishes to partner with South Africa in this transition – and in the process help spur job creation and growth in both our countries.
In this regard, I expect the royal visit will be a strong catalyst to both identify concrete business opportunities and grow our partnership for the benefit of future generations.
SA Tourism is banking on a jump in the number of international business events and meetings held in the country in the next five years.
Already the organisation’s conventions bureau has secured 177 bids for such events between 2014-2020, which represent 753 conference days involving about 253,128 delegates with an estimated economic impact of R3.5bn.
SA Tourism chief convention bureau officer Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo said in a briefing on the organisation’s strategic plan to Parliament’s trade and industry committee on Friday that SA remained the No 1 convention destination in Africa and the Middle East. It improved its position in the International Congress and Convention Association’s rankings from 37th in 2012 to 34th in 2013 and hoped for gains last year.
She believed there was potential for growth in hosting corporate meetings, corporate incentive programmes, international conventions and trade exhibitions.
There was also scope for SA to increase its share of the global market for meetings of associations. There were 118 meetings of associations in 2013-14, which SA Tourism would like to see rise to 134 by 2020.
Tourism has been identified as a key growth sector with significant job-creation potential. MPs were told that in 2013-14 there were 9.6-million tourist arrivals in the country, and SA Tourism would like to see this rise to 13.7-million by 2020. Domestically it wants to see an increase in holiday trips from 3.1-million to 3.5-million. Chairman Zwelibanzi Mntambo said more needed to be done to encourage domestic tourism and develop a culture of travel in the country.
He also stressed the urgency of the government improving its airlift strategy. “If we are not having airlifts out of the countries where we are marketing to bring people to SA at the time, comfort and price that they want we will not be in this game competitively. It is of no use for us to go and market ourselves in China when we can’t get the tourists out of China.”
South African Airways’ decision to cut its flights to Beijing, China, because the route was not profitable did not help promote tourism to SA, Mr Mntambo said. China and India were growing tourist markets which SA could not afford to neglect, he said.
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South African Tourism’s new chief marketing officer, Margie Whitehouse, is warm, passionate and a nurturer of people who is excited about the ‘sense of purpose’ her position offers.
An experienced brand specialist (she says she ‘grew up in Unilever – a great brand finishing school’), Whitehouse has been consulting for the past few years, and working a little less than she will be in her new position at the helm of South African Tourism’s efforts to market the country domestically and internationally.
I consider it an absolute privilege. South Africa is a great passion of mine. – Margie Whitehouse, South African Tourism CMO
Whitehouse, who is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and an old girl of St Andrew’s School for Girls in Johannesburg, has a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, who, she laughs, ‘are big enough now to not want me around as much’.
She says of her new role: ‘I consider it an absolute privilege. South Africa is a great passion of mine.’
She adds, ‘I’ve been involved in South African government for some time.’ Whitehouse previously served on the Board of South African Airways and worked with the Department of Trade and Industry, helping set up its marketing environment.
She also worked in fashion for a number of years, and more recently with smaller and emerging brands. For example, she recently helped with the positioning of Soweto TV.
Another passion is golf, which she got involved in through her son, who has played golf for South Africa. ‘My family have always been golfers,’ she says, though claims she is no good herself (which is hard to believe). Whitehouse is chair of the Women’s Professional Golf Association in South Africa, where her focus has been on inspiring girls to play and excel at golf, and on corporate governance, which she’s also deeply interested in. All her involvement in golf is on a pro bono basis.
‘I’m passionate about South Africa at the end of the day,’ she says, and for her, being the chief marketing officer of South African Tourism ‘is a dream job’.
Now just a few days into her new job, she says, ‘I’m trying to take in as much as possible, spending time with my team and getting them to onboard me. One of the things I love is to build a team and that will be a big focus for me. One of the things about working on my own is I’ve missed having my own team – I’m a nurturer.’
She adds, ‘I don’t think corporate South Africa could have enticed me back. For me, what’s extra special about this position is the sense of purpose.’
Image: © South African Tourism
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By Kevin Mearns
“Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity” Klaus Topfer, UNEP Executive Director.
Changes in the market forces, as well as the move towards more environmentally sensitive and sustainable forms of tourism, have led to significant changes in tourism. The emergence of sustainable development has been a major driving force in this change towards a new form of tourism. The negative economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts resulting from tourism’s rapid and unplanned developments associated with mass tourism led to calls for a new or alternative form of tourism. Sustainable or responsible tourism is one such alternative approach to tourism that has been embraced by the tourism industry in an attempt to respond to the changing market conditions.
The concept of sustainability has had a profound influence on the world and the way in which the tourism industry, and in fact all business, conducts itself. Business now has to concern itself not only with economics but also with social and environmental issues, referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Careful consideration must be given to the minimization of negative environmental impacts while enhancing the positive impacts. Responsible tourism is being advocated by the tourism industry to achieve equity, responsibility and sustainability. The Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism (2002) was the result of the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations organized by the Responsible Tourism Partnership as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The conference addressed ways in which stakeholders can work together to take responsibility for achieving the aspirations of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics and the principles of sustainable tourism. According to the Cape Town Declaration (2002) responsible tourism has the following characteristics:
- It minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
- It generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, and improves working conditions and access to the industry.
- It involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
- It makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.
- It provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
- It provides access for physically challenged people.
South Africa committed itself to the principle of responsible tourism in its 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. The principles of responsible tourism were, however, later elaborated on (DEAT, 2002) Responsible tourism is about enabling communities to enjoy a better quality of life through increased socio-economic benefits and an improved environment. It is also about providing better holiday experiences for guests and good business opportunities for tourism enterprises.
But how do we measure how well or how badly we are doing in terms of our responsibility or sustainability targets? “Indicators have been identified as desirable instruments and/or measuring rods to assess and monitor the progress towards sustainable development”(Tsaur, Lin, & Lin, 2006) Indicators are defined by Hart (2013) as “something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be”. An indicator also has the ability to reduce a large quantity of information to its simplest form, without losing the essential information in order to answer questions being asked. Indicators are therefore variables that summarize relevant information to make visible phenomena of interest. Whereas statistics provide raw data with no meaning attached, indicators of sustainable development provide meaning that extends beyond the attributes directly associated with the data.
The use of sustainable tourism indicators was developed to help tourism managers obtain and use information in support of better decision making in the sustainable development of tourism. Indicators are proposed to be the building blocks for sustainable tourism and they are intended to be used as tools that respond to issues most important to managers of tourism destinations. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) explains that indicators are: measures of the existence or severity of current issues, signals of upcoming situations or problems, measures of risk and potential need for action, and a means to identify and measure the results of our actions.
Indicators are information sets which are formally selected to be used on a regular basis to measure changes that are of importance for tourism development and management. They can measure: a) changes in tourism’s own structures and internal factors, b) changes in external factors which affect tourism and c) the impacts caused by tourism. Both qualitative and quantitative information can be used for sustainability indicators.”
“Used properly, indicators can become key management tools – performance measures which supply essential information both to managers and all stakeholders in tourism. Good indicators can provide in-time information to deal with pressing issues
and help guide the sustainable development of a destination” (UNWTO, 2007)
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) some of the benefits of good indicators are the following:
- better decision making – lower risks and costs
- identification of emerging issues – allowing prevention
- identification of impacts – allowing corrective action when needed
- performance management of the implementation of plans and management activities – evaluating progress in the sustainable development of tourism
- reduced risk of planning mistakes – identifying limits and opportunities
- greater accountability – credible information for the public and other stakeholders of tourism fostering accountability for its wise use in decision making constant monitoring that can lead to continuous improvement – building solutions into management
The tourism industry has monitored destination performance for many years by using conventional tourism indicators such as arrival numbers and tourist expenditure. In the same way as GDP has been found to be an inadequate measure of human welfare, conventional indicators can be seen as inadequate measures of tourism’s true performance.
Indicators are those sets of information chosen because they are meaningful to our decisions and can be supported in a way that provides us with the information when needed. The UNWTO process was designed to assist tourism managers in identifying which information was key to their decisions. This would help them reduce the risks to their enterprise, the community and the environment. Consequently, the UNWTO identified a core set of indicators which are likely to be useful in almost any situation which needs additional indicators critical for management in a particular ecosystem or type of destination (UNWTO, 2004).
Indicators are not an end in themselves. They become relevant only if used in tourism planning and management processes, and ideally they become effective in creating better and more sustainable decisions.
The UNWTO (2004) indicates a series of applications in which indicators support tourism planning and management:
Indicators and policy: Indicators are helpful in identifying the key policy issues that need to be addressed during the development process to achieve effective and responsible management.
Using indicators to strategically plan for tourism: Planning is about knowing what you want, how you will get there and how you will know if you have achieved it. Indicators are useful in all three of these phases of planning for continual improvement, as they provide the means to measure how close the tourism venture is to the desired state or outcome.
Indicators and regulation: Most regulations are based on the achievement of a specific standard. Indicators assist in measuring adherence to these desired standards.
Carrying capacity and limits to tourism: Indicators can be very useful in monitoring whether specific limits or carrying capacities which may affect the sustainability of tourism are being reached.
Public reporting and accountability: The information collected through indicators needs to be shared with the public in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
indicators and certification programmes: Indicators are used to monitor and measure the adherence to a series of criteria as prescribed by the certification authority or programme.
Performance measurement and benchmarking: Tourism ventures are increasingly being called upon to measure their performance in relation to other tourism ventures and benchmarks. Indicators play a critical role in determining both benchmarks and baselines for comparison as well as the performance of tourism venture in relation to one another and the predetermined benchmarks.
In order to understand how well we are performing in terms of our sustainability targets we need to continuously monitor our performance. Monitoring should be kept simple and feedback should be obtained from visitors, tour operators and local people. Simpson (2008, p.263) supports this need for ongoing monitoring by stating that “[t]he importance of on- going monitoring cannot be understated in order to refine strategies, mitigate costs, maximize benefits to communities and ensure long-term sustainability of individual tourism initiatives”.
The results of indicator monitoring are not always self-evident and will be of little value if they cannot
be accurately interpreted and understood. Baselines, thresholds, targets and benchmarks provide valuable tools to assist in the interpretation of the results obtained from indicator measurement. Baselines normally represent the agreed starting point of the monitoring process, often being the first year for which data has been collected. The indicator results are then interpreted based on the degree of variance from the baseline. This tool works well as long as it is clear that the baseline may not necessarily represent
a desired state, as a critical limit may already have been exceeded.
A baseline, as the first tool used in the interpretation of results, does not always indicate what action is necessary and it will only indicate if a previous level has been exceeded. Additional tools for the interpretation need to be used in conjunction with the baseline data. These tools are thresholds, targets and benchmarks. Thresholds indicate a critical point or threshold that should not be passed. Thresholds often act as an early warning system which if reached should trigger some form of management action to ensure that the issue is resolved or remediated. Targets and benchmarks provide a focus or an aim of a desired subjective state that would like to be achieved. These targets and benchmarks continuously drive management actions towards the attainment of the target. Baseline data therefore forms a critical component in the interpretation of indicator results.
Sustainable tourism indicators have been identified as valuable tools for determining and monitoring sustainability. Indicators have also been said to operationalise sustainability by providing social, economic and environmental information that supports more effective and holistic tourism planning, management and decision making. Now the question arises which indicators should be used? Before selecting the indicators to use, two other important questions needed to be answered:
How many indicators need to be selected?
Clearly there was no ideal number of indicators to select. Any attempt to address all the aspects of sustainability using too few indicators would leave important gaps, while too many indicators in turn could overwhelm users and the collection of information for the numerous indicators could become too complex and time-consuming. According to the UNWTO (2004, p. 41) “[m]ost practitioners agree that it is essential to prioritize issues and the indicators that correspond to them, to help create a shorter list”. Furthermore, “practitioners agree 12-24 indicators are optimal” (UNWTO, 2004).
Which issues do the indicators need to address?
Issues that need to be addressed when measuring and monitoring the sustainability of a tourism venture need to include the new triple bottom line of sustainability reporting namely social, economic and environmental sustainability, or otherwise stated as people, profit and planet.
The World Tourism Organization (2004) identified 12 baseline issues and their associated baseline indicators which served as an important point of departure for the identification of indicators (Table 1). The list of baseline indicators covers a range of social, economic and environmental issues likely to be found in most destinations. In Table 1 the social, economic and environmental sustainability dimension has been added in square brackets for each baseline issue.
This list of indicators merely provides a basis upon which the sustainability performance of tourism ventures could be measured and monitored. The selected list of indicators need to be adapted to
suite local conditions and the tourism product being monitored in order to provide valuable information to guide sustainability decision making that is relevant to the product and local conditions. As tourists become more aware of their impacts on the environment, they are demanding more sustainable tourism experiences.
In an attempt to respond to these changing market trends the tourism industry has to embrace respon- sible tourism. Responsible tourism in turn can only be achieved if all the relevant role players are able to take collective responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism in order to create better places for people to live in and to visit.
Source: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 1
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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was the venue for a meeting between international tourism diplomats and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom yesterday.
To celebrate the fact the garden had had one million visitors, Hanekom invited Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organisation and David Scowsill, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, to enjoy the delights of the garden and take a walk along the Tree Canopy Way, better known as the Boomslang because of how the walkway winds through the treetops like a snake.
The delegates stopped to take photos of the mountain and the canopy below them.
The group ended the tour at the Moyo restaurant where they were welcomed by traditional singing and dance.
And then they got down to some serious discussions.
Hanekom said the milestone achieved by Kirstenbosch was a tribute to the hard work and vision of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.
“South Africa’s botanical gardens provided a window on South Africa’s rich natural heritage, exposing visitors to the country’s biodiversity.”
Rifai, who is visiting the country for the first time, said he felt privileged to be here.
“It is not often that we get quality time in a place; we are always being moved from one airport to another.”
Although the country had a lot to offer, it needed some repackaging.
“South Africa can, with out a doubt, celebrate diversity. But you need to engage more with international people. The world needs South Africa and you have a lot to offer.”
Rifai said the local tourism industry was missing out on a “great market” which could help boost the economy.
“The visa system is prohibiting many from coming to South Africa. It takes a lot of time and money to travel from one council office to another. For example, for Chinese people to get a visa to come to South Africa they need to travel to Beijing to get their documents, and often they have to return to the consular offices more than once.”
The secretary-general’s opinion was echoed by Scowsill.
Scowsill compared the country’s visa regulations to those in the US post 9/11.
“After 9/11, America was very strict on whom they allowed into their country, but three years ago they realised that this was impacting negatively on their tourism growth.
“They introduced an electronic and biometric system whereby you can apply online for your visa and all your information will be added on to the biometric machines so that you just used your fingerprints for identification and approval.”
Another issue raised was the need for an easy and affordable transport system for young travellers and backpackers.
Rifai said about 1.1 billion tourists travelled each year and a third of those were under the age of 29. Cape Town and its surrounds attracted many young visitors, but places were not always easy to visit.
“Young people come for week-long visits… if they want to go outside the city to understand the real South Africa they need a transport system that will make it easier. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.”
Hanekom accepted the suggestions raised by his guest.
“The advice is very useful.”
He said his ministry planned to carefully examine the visa applications, and tourism requirements were being reviewed.
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