Morongoe Ramphele, South African Department of Tourism; Judy Lain, Wesgro; Sisa Ntshona, South African Tourism; Sadia Nanabhay, African Responsible Tourism Awards and Jane Edge, Fair Trade Tourism Morongoe Ramphele, South African Department of Tourism; Judy Lain, Wesgro; Sisa Ntshona, South African Tourism; Sadia Nanabhay, African Responsible Tourism Awards and Jane Edge, Fair Trade Tourism

Mitigating travel’s ‘negatives’

Restricting visitor numbers (Ibiza) and upping fines for bad behaviour by tourists (Venice) are among strategies introduced at European tourist hotspots in recent years as locals kick back against growing pressure on natural resources and ‘over-tourism’. But at Africa’s Travel Indaba this week, tourism stakeholders were encouraged to ‘think holistically’ about mitigating the industry’s negative impacts and encourage guests to be part of responsible tourism.

 

Fair Trade Tourism’s Jane Edge was part of a panel discussion on the subject. ‘Millennial travellers are leading the way in responsible tourism and the industry needs to harness the trend to captivate this emerging travel market,’ she says. ‘They travel off the beaten track creating dispersal to smaller, developing businesses. They want authenticity, they want to live like a local. They don’t do ‘enclave’ tourism. ‘These are good grounds in terms of future tourists, of which there will be 1.8 billion globally by 2020. Let’s not lurch from crisis to crisis.’ 

 

Speaking of crises, Cape Town has been under the global spotlight as it manages the region’s ongoing water shortage. ‘We thought we had responsible tourism before the drought came,’ said panellist Judy Lain, chief marketing office at Western Cape’s tourism marketing agency, Wesgro. ‘But when it came, we had to change our relationship with water.’ Lain says Cape Town’s citizens didn’t want tourists to come and use the water, and tourists didn’t want to come for that very reason. But tourists only use 1% of the city’s water during the peak season. ‘Tourists don’t know what to do, they need to be instructed,’ says fellow panellist Sadia Nanabhay from the African Responsible Tourism Awards. ‘We need to appeal to peoples’ good nature and encourage good behaviour. ‘Ask hotel guests how quick can your shower be? Or use a ‘keep up with the Jones’ approach: 90% of people who have stayed in this room didn’t change their towels – can you do it?’ Changed behaviour is important.

 

‘One in five developing countries will be in a drought by 2050,’ says Lain. The panel discussion was chaired by South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona. ‘The world is watching Africa to see how we behave,’ he said. ‘Instead of being seen as a victim, we need to be seen as a leader.’

- Trish Freeman

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