Tourism has become a hot topic in the Mother City (as Cape Town is fondly referred to by the locals), as it continues to attract global attention and top the list as a popular destination world wide. Last year a further accolade, that of Table Mountain being confirmed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, has further boosted her image. Indeed the figures put out by Cape Town Tourism in a mini-report for December show that the visitor numbers are up so far this summer.
This positive state of affairs coincides well with Ron Mader’s Planeta.com Responsible Travel Week, which he runs through www.planeta.wikispaces.com/rtweek2013. It’s his fifth year of hosting the event, but the 13th year of promoting the power of innovative conferencing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a cross-section of the public to contribute in a forum which is broad reaching and has the potential for general feedback.
My particular area of concern is the gap in the Conservation development framework which generally excludes the Tourism sector, who in my opinion should also be contributing towards wildlife conservation initiatives to help protect the natural assets which will degrade over time through the impact of growing numbers.
During last year’s RT week I volunteered in a project on Baboon Conservation bringing awareness to the negative impact that uninformed visitors have on the animals through their unwitting actions – such as getting too close to take photos, feeding the animals, and generally being unaware of the ‘rules for wildlife viewing’. My efforts started off at the car rental companies based at the Cape Town International Airport, leaving desk stands displaying photographs showing scenes of baboon car raids and being attracted to cars by people who feed them. Visitors who undertake the “do-it yourself” tour are often the least informed. I also followed up in the tourist village of Simon’s Town, which is one of the hubs on the scenic route. The Simon’s Town Museum and Tourist Information center gave their support for the week and also displayed the desk stands and information boards. Although there are numerous road signs warning that it is illegal to feed Baboons, as well as to keep cars secure, many visitors ignore the message, or don’t get the connection.
The theme for this year is “Redo, Re-Imagine and Remix”. What a wonderful opportunity to re-load the message and put it out there into the broader community. Thank you Ron for the opportunity.
For those interested here is an excerpt from his program:
“The motto of the 2013 RT Week is Redo, Re-Imagine and Remix. Participants are asked to consider ways in which tourism benefits locals and visitors alike and most importantly in an era of the social web, to build on one another’s efforts, to literally remix media in ways that enlighten and embolden. Toward that end we have a poster challenge and we’ll be encouraging participants to curate responsible travel stories.
A tentpole event, Responsible Travel Week manifests our commitment toward effective communication and collaboration. Responsible Travel Week amplifies down-to-earth applications of noble concepts including responsible travel, conscious travel, the local travel movement and ecotourism with the inexpensive social web. We have the tools in hour hands to plan trips, to welcome visitors, to make the world a better place. Let’s learn how to use new technologies, how to combine high tech with lo-fi face-to-face gatherings.
We welcome financial sponsors, including individuals and institutions willing to invest in a more formal approach, including awards and workshops focused on digital literacy training.
Plan ahead and let us know your plans. What participants get out of an event depends on what’s put in. We recommend budgeting time before, during and after the week to put responsible travel into action. Even a modest investment of time and attention can pay off spectacularly with new ideas and contacts. Be inspired and be inspiring!”