Africa Travel Week
responsible tourism

Why Responsible Tourism matters

At WTM Africa in April we are reflecting on progress since 2002 when the Cape Declaration launched the Responsible Tourism movement. 20 years on we are reflecting on progress and looking to the future. Responsible Tourism is about making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit, in that order

Derek Hanekom, then Minister of Tourism, South Africa, spoke with passion about why Responsible Tourism matters at WTM London in 2018. He pointed out sustainability really matters to the future of our industry and spoke about the importance of spreading the Responsible Tourism message, pointing to the challenges of pollution – greenhouse gas emissions and waste – and overtourism.

He speaks with passion about the importance of decarbonisation and the urgency of achieving it. Our industry must play our part in changing behaviour, we are both a contributor to and victim of climate change.

More and more tourists are demanding that our industry address these issues. If host communities feel that they are being used by tourists and that they are not benefitting in their neighbourhoods they turn against our industry. Younger tourists and seasoned travellers alike do not want to be viewed as unwelcome visitors, they want to fell connected and welcome to participate as locals making a positive difference.

As Derek points out SA was the first country to include Responsible Tourism in its national policy in 1996 – maximising economic social and environmental benefits and minimising negative impacts. South Africa has been a pioneer but there is still much to be done we should not be satisfied until Responsible Tourism becomes to norm across our industry As Derek pointed out back in 2018 the water crisis in the Cape  became a national problem for the tourism industry – in the Cape the “save like a local” campaign had a real impact on behaviour.  We have to learn from each other about resilience and how to deal with crisis.

Derek concludes “We need more; it has to be everyone, we will not sustain our industry or this planet it is all about our survival let us be the industry that leads the world toward sustainable practises – if we can do this we can assure that there is a world where people can enjoy and benefit from fulfilling tourism experiences”  It is us who have to be the change agents.

View the Responsible Tourism Conference programme here.

Harold Goodwin

Harold Goodwin is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2000 participants each year and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Ireland. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.