Africa Travel Week has always offered the travel trade dynamic networking opportunities and a conference programme featuring trends, insights and speakers from across the globe. A highlight for any visitor and exhibitor interested in learning more about responsible tourism and sustainability in the tourism industry has been the informative and inspirational responsible tourism programme, as well as day devoted to the Responsible Tourism Africa Conference and this year was no different. Here’s an overview of some of the great content…

Responsible tourism in Africa

Day 1 – Monday 11 April:

Rural Tourism: Many destinations rely on their rural tourism provision to generate revenue for the local economy. But what does Rural Tourism actually mean? This session by Jacqui Taylor (Founder of Rural Tourism Africa & CEO: Agritourism Africa) unpacks everything you need to know.

Responsible Technology for Travel & Tourism: The tourism industry – travel, hospitality and attractions – has developed a bewildering range of tech solutions. New technology alone will not achieve the change we need to see in our industry, we need to generate behavioural change amongst our staff and our clients. For this panel, we have chosen experienced experts who can look behind the brochures and the sales pitch to share what they have learnt about what works, what doesn’t and why? Panelists – Harold Goodwin (WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor), Hugo Vermeulen (Solarus), Angus Spurr (GM – Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands), Tracy Schaffler (GM Central Services – Cullinan Holdings), Chris van Zyl (Group sustainability manager – The Vineyard Hotel & Spa)

Responsible Tourism Awards: A highlight on the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism calendar, these awards Champion the very best work in Responsible Tourism on the African continent. Join us as we celebrate those – sustainability champions, changemakers, movers and shakers – who continue to make a positive impact and lead by example. Hosted by Harold Goodwin and Alderman James Vos

Bean to Bar: How one chocolate company is supporting farmers and their local community: Join, Arno Ralph, Head Chocolatier at Afrikoa, as he takes you on a confectionary journey from South Africa to Tanzania explaining what goes into this award-winning chocolate, and how it is benefiting local communities.

Tourism benefits travellers and communities: Our planet is experiencing a period of overheating. Tourism produces about 8% of the overall CO2 emissions, and this percentage is constantly growing. The good news is the industry is changing, we are becoming more and more aware of the threat of climate change and the role tourism plays in escalating it. Skål International has proven to be a strong force for the initiation of change and the encouragement of environmental conservation which has benefited both travellers and communities. Presentation by Fiona Angelico Skål International South Africa President

The commercial captive lion breeding industry in South Africa – What you should know: Since the launch of the Blood Lions® film and the subsequent global campaign, the commercial captive lion breeding and keeping industry in South Africa industry has flourished; however the pressure to close this industry has also gathered momentum and we have seen some necessary change. What are the recent developments and what should you know as tourism industry players? Dr. Louise de Waal (Campaign Manager – Blood Lions)

Screening of Blood Lions: Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and American hunter Rick Swazey, on their journey to uncover the realities of the multi-million dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa. The story blows the lid off claims made by these hunting operators in attempting to justify what they do. At the time the film launched in 2015, over 800 captive lions were shot in South Africa, mostly by wealthy international hunters under conditions that are considered anything but sporting.

Day 2 – Tuesday 12 April: (Responsible Tourism Conference)

Twenty years of Responsible Tourism in Cape Town: The Responsible Tourism movement was founded twenty years ago in Cape Town and has grown to have influence around the world as more and more businesses and destinations have taken responsibility to use tourism to make better places for people to live in and to visit. It has not been easy. This panel will reflect on the challenges faced in the Cape and consider what has been achieved. Looking to the future, we shall discuss the current priorities and how progress might be made more quickly. Panelists – Harold Goodwin, Dr. Theuns Vivian (Head – Destination Development, City of Cape Town), Michael Lutzeyer (Owner – Grootbos Private Nature Reserve), Lisa-Ann Hosking (Destination Management Executive, Cape Town Tourism)

Progress in Responsible Tourism Around the World: The Cape Town Declaration founded a movement that has spread around the world. An opportunity to look at some of the Responsible Tourism initiatives that have developed in Africa and around the world and to reflect on whether there are ideas that could be developed for your business or destination. Given the range of challenges – climate change, biodiversity loss, inclusion – that we face, we need to make progress faster. The Platform for Change is designed to enable ‘tried and tested’ and promising new ideas to be shared. You may wish to contribute Responsible Tourism practices to the Platform or use it to find ways of tackling the sustainability issues which concern you and the communities you work in and with. Harold Goodwin, Emilie Hagedoorn (Owner – Green Heart Tourism), Lisa Scriven (Sustainable Tourism Advisor – Utopia Africa)

Mike Fabricius & Harold Goodwin co-chairs of the Cape Town Declaration Conference reflect on how it came about & what resulted from it: In 2002 Mike was CEO of the Western Cape Tourism Board and with Harold Goodwin co-chaired the first international conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations which launched the Cape Town Declaration the found document of the Responsible Tourism movement. Mike went on to establish. The Journey, is an independent tourism advisory and consultancy practice undertaking destination development in Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and the Fear East. Mike and Harold will reflect on the progress made over the last twenty years in South Africa and around the world, barriers to change and reflect on the future. Mike Fabricius (The Journey & Co-Chair Cape Town Conference on RT in Destinations, 2002), Harold Goodwin (WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor & Co-Chair Cape Town Conference on RT in Destinations, 2002)

A Conversation with the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town: The V&A Waterfront won the “Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic” category in last year’s WTM Global Tourism Awards. This panel is an opportunity to hear from them and ask them why Responsible Tourism matters to them, about why it makes business sense, and about their environmental and socio-economic initiatives. Panelists – Harold Goodwin, David Green (CEO: V&A Waterfront), André Theys (Executive Manager: Operations at V&A Waterfront), Henry Matthys (Senior Manager: Social Impact, V&A Waterfront)

Local Economic Development: Creating Shared Value: The concept of shared value emerges from the writing of Harvard Professor Michael E. Porter, well-known for his previous work on competition strategy, value chains and cluster theory. Porter defines shared value as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the social and economic conditions in the communities in which it operates”. In this panel, we shall explore some African examples of this approach to growing your business, benefitting neighbouring communities and increasing the value of tourism to the destination. Panelists – Gillian Saunders (Independent Tourism and Hospitality Adviser), Evie Ndhlovu (Programme Manager EMEA: Planeterra), Glynn O’Leary (CEO & Co-founder: Transfrontier Parks Destinations), Ruth Crichton (Marketing & PR, Sustainability: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve)

In conversation with Richard Vigne, Executive Director: Leadership University School of Wildlife Conservation: The founding goal of the African Leadership University’s (ALU) School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) is to promote conservation as an African growth sector by developing, equipping and informing entrepreneurial conservation leaders. By educating the leaders of tomorrow who will create future wildlife economies, the SOWC aims to be a catalyst in conserving Africa’s wild places. Join WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, Harold Goodwin as he chats Richard about the School and how he is going to reach their goals.

Tackling Climate Change: Our industry contributes to greenhouse gas emissions through aviation and ground transport and heating, cooling and lighting accommodation. What can we do to reduce our emissions? On current trends sea-level rise, extreme weather events and wildfires are expected. How can we adapt to these challenges? Panelists – Harold Goodwin, Karien Erasmus (Senior Manager Sustainability: BDO South Africa), Chris Van Zyl (Group sustainability manager: The Vineyard Hotel & Spa), Goosain Isaacs (Director: Climate Change, Western Cape Government)

Investment for Responsible Tourism & Resilience: Development banks, commercial banks and private investors all have a role to play in financing tourism. Hermione Nevill, from the International Finance Corporation, will take a destination-lens to explore some of the financing mechanisms in play, and how they are changing in the context of recovery in Africa. Hermione Nevill (Senior Tourism Specialist: World Bank Group)

How Do We Increase Resilience? The Covid pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of our industry to travel bans and fear. Cape Town was not the first destination to suffer from severe drought and a large reduction in arrivals – and it will not be the last. What can businesses and destinations do to increase their resilience? What can you do? What do you need to do? Panelists – Harold Goodwin, Lee-Anne Bac (Director: BDO South Africa Advisory), Gareth Morgan (Director: Resilience at the City of Cape Town), Hermione Nevill (Senior Tourism Specialist: World Bank Group), Simon Blackburn (Sustainability Director, African Safari Collective), Ilse Van Schalkwyk (Chief Director: Economic Sector Support, Department of Economic Development and Tourism: Western Cape)

How can the travel and tourism industry contribute more to conservation and nature recovery? As the world wakes up to the urgency of the interconnected climate and biodiversity crises and attention turns to the business community’s response, how much more can and should the travel and tourism sector be doing to counter biodiversity loss? Panelists – Harold Goodwin, Colin Bell (Author: Africa’s Finest and Co-founder: Natural Selection Safaris), Wilfred Chivell (CEO: Marine Dynamics; Founder: Dyer Island Conservation Trust and African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary), Michael Lutzeyer (Owner: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve), Roland Vorwerk (Consultant: African Nature-Based Tourism Platform).