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responsible tourism

Green tourism set for roundtable discussions in Tanzania

Apolinari Tairo, eTN  May 28, 2010

(eTN) DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - As the green tourism initiatives and the need for friendly tourism development grows, stakeholders from Tanzania and other East African states will be meeting next week at a special seminar to discuss responsible tourism.

The seminar that will be held just a day ahead of the premier tourism fair, the Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair (KTTF), is expected to shed light on responsible tourism to the travel fair participants. This event will take place in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha, during the period when East Africa is enjoying its peak tourism season.

Organizers of the seminar, the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF), said the one-day discussions will basically focus on best practices, in which the tourism sector would benefit the local communities and help to conserve nature and cultural heritage.

Organizers said the concept of responsible tourism is growing in the industry, as tourists are more aware of issues that affect communities and places of attraction.

As a result, tourists now make decisions on the choice of their holiday depending on the social and environmental implications of the destination or company product that they are buying.

Currently, many travel agents and tour operators have opted for responsible branding, while promoting responsible tourism issues from their sales and operations, such as offering customers the opportunity to offset their carbon on long-haul flights, using energy-saving bulbs in their offices, and making sure their staff has a workplace that does not impair their health.

Objectives of the seminar are to provide an opportunity for business people and government representatives to better understand the meaning and elements of responsible tourism.

The seminar also seeks to provide concrete examples of responsible tourism practices and innovations from Tanzanian tourism businesses and ascertain if there is a need for the formation of a responsible tourism association in Tanzania, as well as identify the role it will play in fostering responsible practices in the sector.

Green tourism campaigners are expected to make presentations on best examples of places where responsible tourism has been taking place. Ecotourism Kenya, a non-governmental organization on community tourism, will provide a summary of the activities of a certification body in East Africa.

Honeyguide Foundation, another non-profit organization that operates community tourism projects in Tanzania, will share its experience and the challenges facing responsible tourism in Tanzania.

Responsible tourism emphasizes that all stakeholders are responsible for the kind of tourism they develop or engage in. While different groups will see responsibility in different ways, the shared understanding is that responsible tourism should entail an improvement in tourism.

It minimizes negative economic, environmental, and social impacts; generates greater economic benefits for local people; enhances the well-being of host communities; improves working conditions; and involves local people.

Through responsible tourism initiatives, local people gain the right to make decisions that affect their lives and make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage in their community.

Ranking second as a prestigious travel and tourism gathering on the African continent, after South Africa’s Indaba, the Karibu Fair is traditionally organized by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO).

Karibu Fair had, to great extent, raised East Africa’s tourism profile by promoting East African destinations to the global marketplace in order to produce the premiere travel and tourism trade fair in East Africa and to bring all key industry stakeholders in East Africa together in one place, at one time.

The fair is also aimed at creating opportunities for international visitors and overseas tour agents to meet and network with members of the East African tourism industry; bring new destinations, facilities, and products to the attention of overseas tour agents; and facilitate opportunities for overseas tour agents to visit the national parks and properties.

For the past eight years, Karibu Fairs have generated direct spending in the local economy, created direct and indirect employment by assisting in the development of small and medium enterprises, built alliances with neighboring East African countries, and brought together key tourism stakeholders through combined efforts to promote regional tourism. Total exhibitor space has been increased to accommodate more exhibitors.

Currently, the Karibu Fair delegates are coming from as far away as Australia, US, UK, and other countries of Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Africa.

Green tourism set for roundtable discussions in Tanzania
Chole Mjini Lodge, Mafia Island, Tanzania / Image via

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