WTM Africa: International Responsible Tourism Conference 14 & 15 APRIL 2015

By Vania Reyneke

I represented Alive2Green at the International Responsible Tourism Conference last week and the insight gained was so awesome that I thought it would make an interesting read for our news letter.

What surprised me was the positive feedback we got from abroad referring to our Responsible Legislation.

Our key note speaker, Prof Harold Goodwin, Professor and Director, Manchester Metropolitan University and International Centre for Responsible Tourism, UK quoted a very true thing:

“Aah but your land is beautiful” Alan Paton

WTM AFRICA brought Responsible Tourism back to Cape Town which was evident not only at the conference but speaking to the trade on the floor.  There were so many who were working exceptionally hard at responsible and sustainable development on their properties.  Those traders who were still a bit in the dark about this whole concept listened and asked pertinent question.

As Prof Goodwin said South Africa was the first country if not the only one to national responsible tourism.  No other country has gone this route.  So why has Responsible Tourism, Cape Town not gone viral yet?  There are great advantages in Responsible Tourism, Cape Town:

Think of the future generations.  Did you have anything to fight for in your life?  If not, what do you tell the next generation?  You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

The traveller is seeking Experiential Tourism.  Experiencing the economy and seeking memorable experiences.

We need to go from numbers in beds to special destinations ie:  Township Tours and places like District 6.  The question was raised, how do we get these traders to market?  Why is it always Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront being marketed?

Our constitution refers to “We the people of South Africa”

Realising the ambition of the 1996 White Paper, policies have not changed.

The White Paper of 1996 refers to Development and Promotion of people:

The Demand Side

  • The human footprint
  • Social and Environmental impact
  • Future generations

The Supply Side  

  • Local Livelihoods
  • Local Culture
  • Others, such as UNESCO

It is critical to increase visitor volumes to create employment.

Kwakye Donkor, Marketing and Communication Director for RETOSA (Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa) spoke about their initiatives:

  • Education.  Teaching children to read, write essays and enter competitions
  • Women in Tourism, the backbone to the economy of South Africa
  • Creating partnerships with South Africa and other countries in Africa
  • Developing tourism by conserving our natural resources
  • Re-looking at the star rating systems, criteria of which should change.

Garry Wilson, Mainstream Product and Purchasing Director for TUI Group, UK.

Tui is the largest Global Travel Group. The statement of the board is clear;  “As a global player aspiring to market and brand leadership in the tourism sector, TUI feels a particular commitment to the principle of sustainability…”

To read their phenominal sustainability initiatives one only has to read them on

The German airline TUIfly has been rated the most climate-friendly charter airline worldwide in the atmosfair Airline Index.

When they proceed into a new destination, the first thing they do is go out and experience/research the local flavour and authenticity.

Tui values feedback from customers, placing responsible and sustainable development at the highest of standards.

They visit real communities and intergrate the culture and resources to all their projects to ensure an authentic product.

Mathias Lessinger, Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility, KUONI, Switzerland

Destination Management has been voted “World’s Leading Destination Management Company” by the World Travel Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“Corporate Responsibility is a strategic issue, not an attempt to save the world.”

Tui creates an economic value and high on their list is employee sustainability.  They drive innovation and enhance customer value proposition.

Sustainable Supply Chain Management is key and so is managing opportunities and taking risks, opportunities such as:

  • Communities and forming partnerships
  • Quality of products
  • Sustainability of Destinations
  • New Business Opportunities and Competitive Advantage.

Tui sees a huge need for training and capacity building with suppliers, setting out clear sustainable excursion guidelines.

In Kenya and India Kuoni focused on Human Rights Due Diligence.

The Water Management initiatives launched by Kuoni have made them Water Champions

Working with ILO’s improve working conditions in hotels ie; SCORE, an international non-profit organisation specialising in community development through sport and recreation.  With its origins in South Africa in 1991, SCORE now has autonomous national offices in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and the Netherlands, each supported by the SCORE International office in Cape Town.

One of Tui’s sustainable initiatives is taking note of child protection in the travel industry.

Tui works with industry and stakeholders through engagement, partnership and they have an open platform andf roundtable on Human Rights.

“Tourism is like fire.  You can cook your dinner on it, but it can burn you.”

The first panel – Tourism by Design consisted of four presentations followed by a panel discussion and questions from the floor.

Samantha Alandale of Hotel Verde, the Greenest Hotel in Africa announced that announced the top researched hotel worldwide as being Hotel Verde and that standing as a tall tree in the wind is sometimes quite a scary place to be.

Lee Hendor Ruiters of the National Centre for Cleaning Products highlighted their programmes as being:

  • Resource efficiency in Tourism
  • Following the program of the Department of Trade and Industry
  • An Internship program called Green Skills Development
  • and the heat pump cycle actually saving R112,000 per annum.
  • A few challenges were raised in the Q&A session:
  • Water Challenges
  • Cost of certification and
  • Event Greening Forum need to set standards.

Afzaal Maudor, Philanthropist, CEO of Inspired Escapes, UK spoke with passion and dynamism quoting Simon Senek:

People buy WHY WE DO IT not WHAT WE DO”

He also stated CREATE A MONSTER THEN MARKET IT – RESPONSIBLE TOURISM.  Make it limitless, distruptive and beautiful.

Some of Inspired Escapes’ programs include:

The Great Orangotang Project

This, which was our flagship orangutan project and is now a multi award-winning orangutan project based in the Matang Wildlife Centre, focusses on the conservation and protection of Borneo’s most fascinating and enchanting species – the orangutan.

Due to mass deforestation, mining and forest fires, the habitat of the area’s orangutans is depleting and under constant threat. As a consequence, the species is increasingly endangered. The Matang Wildlife Centre is a refuge for orangutans which have been centre works tirelessly to reverse this trend in a number of ways, and is thoroughly 

Required Escapes, Killermanjaro

This is the alternative Mount Kilimanjaro experience. Not only will you summit one of the world’s most iconic mountains, but you will get the chance to take part in a local literacy project at the foothills of the mountain. 1000’s of people every year use the great Kilimanjaro climb as a way of fundraising for overseas charities. 1000’s of starving children and marginalised families witness this on a daily basis. At the foothills of Kilimanjaro lie local schools desperately in need of help, where many 14 year-olds still cannot read or write. We plan to reinvent these rural schools and turn them into desirable and successful places. On top of your charity of choice, why not join us and fundraise for the people of the mountain.

The Uganda Marathon to be held 24 May 2015

The Uganda International Marathon is the brainchild of Moses, Henry & Nick- three people working together to improve the lives of the vulnerable in the Masaka region of Uganda.

They wanted to create a way to show people from all over the world the beauty of Uganda, the fantastic warm, friendly welcome of its inhabitants and the amazing story of hope and promise in the country.

Conceived in August 2013, since then the marathon has gained the support of the Ugandan government, several large charities and NGOs working in the country, and most importantly- the endorsement of dozens of runners and adventurers, keen to be a part of the very first international marathon to take place in the country of Uganda.

This is the home of distance running, this is the silhouette jogging across the African sun, this is the dust rising in the wake of a group of lightning quick locals – this is everybody’s chance to be part of an adventure like no other.

For each of the signups Inspired Escapes are donating £1 to enable a disadvantaged local child to run in the children’s fun run KidsRunWild.

After listening to many panel discussions from abroad, the City of Cape Town and other government officials, we broke up into different categories of panel discussions, myself choosing Destination Tourism.

Interestingly the word “entrepreneur” came up time and again when we looked at bringing  the small, township destinations to market.  As Nombulelo Mkefa, Director, Tourism, City of Cape Town, South Africa clearly stated, if they cannot bring themselves to market they are not entrepreneurs and we should clearly distinguish before spending money on small enterprises whether it is a business that will be sustainable or not.

Another issue was that we are possibly focusing on promoting the wrong kind of destinations.  By the time the traveller gets to Cape Town they have already done a Township tour in Gauteng. Tongue in cheek “How many township tours can a traveller do?”

It was felt very strongly that we must possibly loose the word Township and that these tours should adhere to very strict rules and regulations as the feeling in the townships is already that they are seen as animals in a zoo.

From the discussions we had, communities within destinations and what they had to offer culturally and as a tourism destination should be researched well before bringing to market.

That it is important that the surrounding areas of a project in terms of people, resources and benefit for both the traveler and the community is looked at.

On close of this hugely succesful conference, we were again reminded of the importance of sustainable development in tourism and the constant awareness and marketing that is so important.


Image source: Africa Travel Week

Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.
Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.




































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