We can learn much about tourism in and from Africa – celebrating diversity and inclusiveness, growing the cake to create more value for neighbouring communities, living with and benefitting from biodiversity (some of it dangerous), and the importance of transparency. One of the few benefits of a virtual programme is that we can have speakers from around the world on the panels at WTM Africa and that they can be shared worldwide.
One of the problems of sustainability certification in tourism, and there are several, is that it has ignored the socio-economic pillars of sustainability. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations has pointed out the Covid-19 crisis is “… an unprecedented opportunity to transform the relationship of tourism with nature, climate and the economy. … To ensure a fair distribution of its benefits and to advance the transition towards a carbon-neutral and resilient tourism economy.”
We cannot ignore the importance of tourism’s socio-economic impacts, positive and negative, for ethical and economic reasons. Many developing countries rely on tourism for employment and foreign currency so crucial to their development. As Europe produced sugar from beet, undermining the cane sugar industry and tobacco production declined, many Caribbean countries became reliant on tourism. Now threatened by climate change and reliant on air links to bring the tourists they need.
It was in South Africa that the only certification label with a strong commitment to fairness and socio-economic impact emerged. Fair Trade Tourism is the only label that conveys a commitment to socio-economic inclusion and that shares Responsible Tourism’s commitment to fairness, transparency, and respect. Fair Trade Tourism was launched in South Africa but now stretches across sub-Saharan Africa. Lisa Scriven from Utopia Africa talks about Fair Trade Tourism’s experience with Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and its challenges. Are they a consequence of the imposition of northern requirements on countries of the global south?
The international panel includes Kelly Bricker from GSTC, Andrea Nicholas from Green Business, Olivia Ruggles-Brise from Greenview and Lee-Anne Bac from BDO Advisory Services.
There is much to learn from our world’s most diverse continent about cultural diversity and storytelling. 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?
At WTM Africa this week we hear from Toroga Denver Breda, First nation KHOE language and cultural kuwiri, xoa-khoen aka activist and writer based in Xhui-Qhae or Cape Town, Dirk Pienaar of the Khomani San. Their stories about the cultural significance of Table Mountain have created for me, for the first time, motivation to ascend it with an indigenous guide. JoAnna Haugen Founder of Rooted joined us to discuss the role of storytelling in tourism around the world and linking it with creating motivation to make tourism more sustainable.
There are six Responsible Tourism panels at WTM Africa this year focussed on progress in RT, certification, biodiversity, how tourism creates more value for local communities, and cultural diversity and storytelling.
The Responsible Tourism programme at WTM Africa can be accessed here
You can register for the event here