responsible tourism (rt) conference encourages sa to think big

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2011-05-09 14:17

Ron Mader: Responsible Tourism in Cities mini-conferenceRon Mader: Responsible Tourism in Cities mini-conferenceKudos to Responsible Tourism Cape Town for recording and streaming their Responsible Tourism in Cities Mini-Conference on Fri 6 May ahead of the Tourism Indaba hosted in Durban.

I tuned in for a few of the sessions and found Ron Mader's presentation, Why We Suck @ Collaboration, especially worthwhile.

Ron is based in Oaxaca, Mexico and started a responsible tourism website - - back in 1994. Ron Mader visited SA to be part of Friday's Responsible Tourism in Cities mini conference.

In his talk Ron provided some examples of FAILed collaboration - with accompanying images of buildings wrecked by fallen trees, websites that failed and the sustainable tourism symposium that failed to sustain itself! He was also candid enough to admit some of his own failures! A quality that immediately endears, as we don't often see this type honesty in our world.

His presentation really took off, though, about 7 minutes in, where he showed photo's of the vendors he works with (his friends) at the local market in Oaxaca, and spoke about the types of crafts or foods they sell at the market. It was cool to learn about the "indigenous microwave, that's been in service for a thousand years".

Oaxaca has 16 different indigenous groups with 100 different dialects.

Ron's talk took an encouraging and motivating turn showing some of the initiatives he's been involved in. He provided some inspiration for ideas that mashup the online with the physical world like photo safaris - getting out there, taking pictures of the great initiatives and then sharing them on social media sites.

Another message that struck home was "Preach what you practice". As Ron said there are great social initiatives going on but sometimes the people behind the projects are too busy to share what they doing with the rest of the world.

Sharing with the rest of the world is a trait that Ron has embraced, through various online intiatives. "If you want people to adopt and embed responsible tourism in their lives it has to be made fun, applicable, online and on the ground", said Ron.

My favourite line - "Small is beautiful, but I'd encourage you to think big!"

Watch Ron talk here and flip through his presentation at the same time, to get the most of the presentation.

To get a better understanding of what Responsible Tourism is and isn't take a look at Mariette du Toit-Helmbold's talk. Mariette is CEO of Cape Town Tourism, her presentation begins 8m 30s into the video.

It's important to realise that Responsible Tourism is not a sector, but underpins all tourism sectors.

The afternoon sessions included Open Africa, The Green Cab and Abang Africa. All great tourism initiatives providing environmental or social upliftment and embracing responsible tourism!

Lynn's presentation (about 41 minutes in) provided a fascinating history of their company and showcased the Green Cab's "green mobility" solutions. Green Cab's vehicles are fueled by Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Biodiesel (from recycled cooking oil) resulting in reduced emissions.

I've great respect for these four women starting this venture at a time when banks didn't want to lend them money and vehicle manufacturers (except Hyundai) wouldn't extend warranties to vehicles modified for alternative fuel.

It was great that the mini-conference was available to view online, and hopefully we see this becoming a trend in the SA conference and expo scene. It would be great, for example, to view keynote speakers at the Wind Energy conference starting today, online too.

So if you thought RT only stood for retweet, you definitely need to take a closer look at Responsible Tourism.

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