Africa Travel Week (ATW), with its various shows, conferences, award ceremonies and responsible tourism content has always been a highlight on the travel industry calendar. The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 saw ‘in-person’ trade shows the world over disappear, virtually overnight.

Africa Travel Week responsible tourism

With the uncertainty around travel restrictions and in keeping with global precautions, Africa Travel Week went virtual. Initially with informative webinars and online content, and this year in April with a Africa Travel Week Virtual, complete with dynamic networking and a bumper content programme, featuring trends, insights and speakers from across the globe.

A highlight for Responsible Traveller mag has always been the informative and inspirational responsible tourism programme, and this year was no different. Here’s an overview of some of the great content…

Day one:

Progress in Responsible Tourism – a panel discussion, moderated by Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor, World Travel Market.

Panelists –  Eugenio Yunis, Member of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics and independent advisor; Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro; Manisha Pande,Co- founder and Managing Director Village Ways; Dr Niki Glen, CEO of Africa!Ignite and Shannon Guihan, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer for The Travel Corporation.

During this session the discussion was around how far we have come with Responsible Tourism – the progress that has been made, the tried and tested solutions that have delivered results, additional solutions to make tourism better, the priorities for the next decade and how more can be achieved.

Click HERE to watch this session

What role for certification? – a panel discussion, moderated by Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor, World Travel Market.

Panelists – Lee-Anne Bac, Director: BDO South Africa Advisory; Olivia Ruggles-Brise, Director, Greenview; Andrea Nicholas, CEO Green Business UK Ltd and Kelly Bricker, Professor and Director of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council was established to ensure a consistent baseline across the wide variety of schemes that emerged to empower travellers and holidaymakers to make more informed choices and drive sustainable tourism development. Reflecting on the last two decades, what have we learnt about what works and why? How can we increase the effectiveness of certification in delivering sustainable tourism?

Click HERE to watch this session –

What transformational travel means for sustainability – presented byTom Fels, Founder of Animarem

A new wave of travellers is set to spark a change in the future of travel, where the journey itself is once again imbued with meaning and intent. Join those at the cutting edge of reshaping their outlook as Tom Fels unpacked the far-reaching implications of this movement, covering topics such as responsible citizenship and experience design.

Click HERE to watch this session –

Day two:

Tourism and Biodiversity: Friend or Foe – a panel discussion, moderated by was Shaun Vorster, Professor at the University of Stellenbosch and member of the Advisory Board, Tourism Forum Lucerne. Shaun also moderated the panel at WTM London where a different group discussed the issues.

Panelists – Luthando Dziba, Head of Conservation SANParks; Prof Emma Archer, Associate Professor, University of Pretoria; Paul Simkin, Chairman, The Forest (Kenya); Michael Lutzeyer, Owner Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (Western Cape), and Richard Vigne, Managing Director OL Pejeta Conservancy (Kenya).

A panel discussion about the relationship between tourism and the maintenance of biodiversity. Africa is still blessed with much of world’ charismatic megafauna, the Big 5 and a host of other species which tourists will pay top dollar to see. There can be no doubt that at least some of Africa’s biodiversity is highly valued – too highly valued perhaps. Some species are worth more dead than alive as trophies, for decoration or “medicine”. There is big money to be made from legal consumptive trophy hunting and illegally from poaching for ivory, rhino horn or lion.

Click HERE to watch this session –

How can tourism create more value for local communities? – a panel discussion, moderated by Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor, World Travel Market.

Panelists – Glynn O’Leary, Co-founder and Chief Executive of TFPD; Dr Salifou Siddo
Chief Executive of SME TradeLinks (Pty) Ltd; James Fernie, Founding Director of Uthando; Adama Bah, Founder of the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia and Rupesh Kumar,
State Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator, Responsible Tourism Mission, Govt. of Kerala.

Inclusion and reducing poverty are as crucial as tackling climate change and biodiversity loss as post-Covid we struggle to realise the Sustainable Development Goals’ aspirations. We’ve brought together a panel of practitioners to share their experience of how best sufficient we can create sufficient value to raise the living standards of local people in the areas that attract tourists.

Click HERE to watch this session –

Day three:

Whose diversity is it? – a panel discussion, moderated by Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor, World Travel Market.

Panelists – Judy Kepher Gona, Director and Lead consultant at Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda; Uwern Jong, Experientialist-in-Chief of luxury & experiential travel journal, OutThere magazine; Aziz Abu Sarah, Co-founder of MEJDI TOURS and Siyabulela Siyaka,Executive member of Langa Tourism Forum.

There has long been an academic critique of the ways in which our industry commodifies cultures and cultural artefacts. At the heart of Responsible Tourism is the principle that communities should use tourism for their sustainable development rather than be used by it. We aspire to create meaningful connections between hosts and guests, what does that mean for practice? How can we celebrate diversity better?

Click HERE to watch this session –

Stories bring experiences alive – a panel discussion, moderated by Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor, World Travel Market.

Panelists – Toroga Denver, KHOIKHOI First nations language and cultural activist and writer; JoAnna Haugen, Founder of Rooted and Dirk Hermanus Pienaar, Tourism and Conservation Officer, Khomani San CPA.

We need to think about the stories we tell in the itineraries and places we recommend and market. We need to have more diversity in the experiences and stories we tell. We need to take responsibility if travel is to broaden the mind rather than reinforce prejudices. Only through storytelling can we realise the ambition of Responsible Tourism to provide “more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.

Click HERE to watch this session  –

For more Africa Travel Week info –

Click HERE to read this in the latest Responsible Traveller Mag