World attends travel event
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Cape Town - Responsible Tourism was high on the agenda at Africa Travel Week which saw thousands of international and local members of the travel industry descend on Cape Town for the highlight of the tourism calendar.
The largest international travel industry event, it is made up of three shows: the World Travel Market Africa; the International Luxury Travel Market Africa, and the Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings Africa event, all hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this week.
It attracted 500 international tourism industry buyers, 4 500 trade visitors, 220 media and 1 700 exhibitors. There were debates, forums, conferences, seminars and lectures in the first pan-African tourism week staged in the country.
A debate on conservation, Leading the Way, was led by two of the continent’s top guides – Botswana’s Map Ives of Wilderness Safaris and South Africa’s Juan Pinto, director and head ranger at Royal Malewane Lodge. They raised the importance of preserving the continent’s indigenous nature, including the Big Five, ecosystems, flora and fauna.
The week concluded with WTM Africa’s Responsible Tourism Programme. It was a key component of the education sessions where issues of sustainability in Africa were debated.
There was a session on “Social Responsibility: Child Protection” with speaker Anne van der Tuuk of Abang Africa Travel. Abang believes the industry should stand together to protect children and prevent child abuse in travel.
Carol Weaving, managing director of Thebe Reed, organisers of Africa Travel Week, said: “The education programme was an inspiration to all involved in luxury travel, Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) and business travel and general leisure tourism in Africa.
Such a high-profile breadth of speakers from across the world provided a key learning opportunity for those involved in the burgeoning industry of African travel. We believe the event has created a valuable and an insightful agenda to give the travel industry a new and fresh approach to help them develop their businesses both regionally and internationally.”
Heidi van der Watt, director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism South Africa, said in line with WTM Africa’s commitment to supporting responsible tourism was the partnership with charity partner, The Code, which provides awareness, tools and support to the industry to combat the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. The Code is one of the first initiatives to define the role and obligations of tourism companies to the issue.
A child protection panel covered issues arising in travel and tourism, with representatives from Abang Africa, Khiri Travel, Thailand and African Impact.
WTM Africa has partnered with the charity Tusk. Since 1990, Tusk has raised over $30 million for a projects across the continent. It supports 53 field projects in 18 African countries that work to protect wildlife and help to alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education among rural communities who live alongside the wildlife. As the ever-expanding human population and its demand for more land brings increasing conflict with wildlife, Tusk’s aim was to forge a link between the preservation of Africa’s natural heritage and the future of its land, culture and people. The charity’s holistic approach recognises that the long-term future for wildlife was dependent on education and sustainable development.
The city’s acting mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, Ian Neilson, said Africa Travel Week was “a boost to trade and tourism in the city, the country and across the continent. The benefits of hosting an event of this magnitude are significant. The event presents the city with a fantastic opportunity to showcase its new design-inspired tourism products to international buyers, in the year that Cape Town celebrates being the World Design Capital 2014.” - Weekend Argus