September is a month with many celebrations in South Africa and Nelson Mandela Bay; not only is it the month in which we celebrate Heritage Day, the month of the annual local #ShareTheBay exhibition, the month in which the Bay hosted the South African Youth Travel Conference and the month in which we set the tone for tourism for the next year, but it is also the month of World Tourism Day.
The theme of South Africa’s Tourism Month, as well as the theme of World Tourism Day, focuses on sustainable tourism.
But what is sustainable tourism?
According to the World Tourism Organization it is, “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
World Tourism Day 2017 presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.
Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) believes that Tourism is a tool for development and shares the following message:
“Tourism is today the 3rd largest export industry in the world after chemicals and fuels. It brings hope, prosperity and understanding to so many lives and livelihoods all over the world. Last year alone, 1.235 million travellers crossed international borders in one single year. By 2030, this 1.2 billion will become 1.8 billion.”
Did you know that 263 543 foreign tourists visited Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016?
Did you know that almost 8 million domestic visitors came to our friendly side last year?
Take a bow our beautiful Bay, everyone wants a slice of your epic offerings.
Rifai continues and says, “The question, as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017, is how we can enable this powerful global transformative force, these 1.8 billion opportunities, to contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development in all its 5 pillars:
1. Economic: yielding inclusive growth;
2. Social: bringing decent jobs and empowering communities;
3. Environmental: preserving and enriching the environment and addressing climate change;
4. Cultural: celebrating and preserving diversity, identity, and tangible and intangible culture, and
5. Peace: as an essential prerequisite for development and progress.”
It is our very own local Bay ambassador, Wayne Bolton, who always reminds us that we are custodians of the environment, that we have a responsibility to protect our natural heritage for future generations. As travellers and as proud citizens of Nelson Mandela Bay it is our duty to handle our environment, different cultures and traditions with the utmost care.
Here are a few practical steps on how you can practice sustainable tourism:
Honour your hosts and our common heritage
There’s no culture more important than another culture. To understand other people, respect their local customs, traditions and social conditions and learn from them.
Protect our planet
Be a guardian of our natural resources, use water sparingly, do not vandalise, remove or do harm to nature, do not litter and pick up litter (even if it does not belong to you).
Support the local economy
Go local; get a local guide to show you around, buy locally-made souvenirs and produce. Did you know that the tourism sector was responsible for about 50 000 jobs in 2016?
Be an informed traveller
Know before you go: research and get familiar with the activities that you want to engage in to make sure it is not unethical, causing harm to the environment or disrespecting the rights of animals. Know that animals in captivity suffer from abuse (captivity alone is a form of abuse), know that animals are not entertainers and that wild animals should never be petted or used for riding.
Be a respectful traveller
Respect people, don’t exploit anyone, including children and vendors making an honest living. Respect the environment, respect cultural artefacts and observe to ensure that you don’t cross a cultural line.
- Keep our beaches, parks, streets and estuaries clean,
- Visit and support institutions such as SAMREC/SANCCOB and SANParks,
- Support local tour guides,
- Use water sparingly,
- Support local tour operators,
- Buy locally-made Bay souvenirs,
- Join local markets and festivals,
- Visit the Bay’s museums,
- Indulge in the food of local restaurants,
- Treat others with respect,
- Treat animals with respect,
- Share your Bay experiences on social media with the hashtag, #ShareTheBay.
Read Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism’s suggestions on practical tips to make sustainability happen within your business.
Article source: http://blog.nmbt.co.za/blog/entry/sustainable-tourism-in-the-bay