Responsible Tourism Week 2012   Responsible Tourism Week 2012   Isilo at Tembe National Elephant Park

We’re well into Responsible Tourism Week 2012, and we’ve all learned a lot, shared a lot, and seen a lot, so I thought I’d do my bit by telling you about some of the wonderful and useful resources I’ve found during this time: resources that have already begun to guide me in my work, and that have changed my thinking, opened my eyes, and broadened my horizons (although I still haven’t found anything that’ll stop me from writing in tired old clichés…).

But first: a thank you. I’m often amazed and constantly delighted that so many people from so many places all over the world are generous enough to share their knowledge in the way they do – for free – on the net. (Not forgetting that the difference between knowledge and wisdom in the 21st century is the ability to distinguish the good stuff from the rubbish on the net, let me assure you that everything you’ll find via the links below is a jewel.)

So to the writers and creators of the content on these links: thank you. Thank you. And thank you.

Now to work:

In no particular order:

RON MADER – The creator and editor of Planeta.com (the world’s oldest responsible tourism web site, and still one of the most straight forward and friendly): follow him on twitter @ronmader using the hash tags #rtweek2012 and #responsibletourism.

You might be interested to start tapping into Ron’s remarkable store of knowledge by reading about Responsible Tourism Week 2012 on Planeta.com.  or on the Planeta Wiki.

Over the years, Ron has created 122 different presentations – many of which concern the mash up between responsible tourism and social media, and he’s uploaded them all to Slideshare.

Go through them: he’s covered everything from Maori Proverbs to using flickr, and to being part of Responsible Tourism Week. And much, much more.

(Regular readers of This Tourism Week will remember Ron from the clip I recorded with him at Indaba – in which he said that he believed that South Africa was taking the lead in Responsible Tourism. Viva Mzansi! Viva!)

TWITTER - I always thought I was too old to understand twitter. Until I got my iPhone. Now I believe giving up twitter would be more difficult than giving up baccy or booze.

So here’s what I’ve found: using the hashtag #responsibletourism, I think I’ve learned most of what I now know about responsible tourism from the people I follow on Twitter.

If you think I’m swearing at you – let me explain. ‘Hashtags’ are topics. So, for instance, if you want to know what’s happening in competitive dentistry, you can either search for the hashtag (written as #competitivedentistry) on twitter itself – which will reveal a selection of tweets that have included the topic  – or you can go to hashtags.org and type ‘competitivedentistry’ into the search box… and every tweet that anyone has made about the subject over the last week or so will come up on your screen (um, in the case of #competitivedentistry, that would be none).

If a hashtag is a topic, an @tag is a person or a company. So if you want to find me on twitter, search for @MartinHatchuel – and if you want to find Mossel Bay, look for @GetMe2MosselBay (and no, the @tags aren’t case sensitive, so @martinhatchuel will work just as well).

Then follow us – and every time we tweet, you’ll see our offerings in your twitter stream (that is, once you’ve signed up for a twitter account. But don’t panic. It’s really very easy: even *I* learned how to do it…).

Of course, it’s not so much what people write in their 140 character tweets that’s valuable: it’s the links they’ve included, and which I’ve followed and read.

Which brings me to one of the richest resources I’ve found during this Responsible Tourism Week:

DARRYL LOMBARD — the managing director and principal consultant at Lorton Consulting.

I found Mr. Lombard by looking at the hashtag #responsibletourism on twitter (you can search for him by his name, or you’ll find him under his twitter handle, which is @TourismPlan).

If you’re into responsible tourism and you do nothing else, follow him. His tweets almost always carry links to excellent articles on his web site – here’s just a sample:

Mr. Lombard’s biography tells us that he’s “worked in 17 African and Indian Ocean countries as well as India and the Middle East” and that he has “led teams working on a broad spectrum of projects and specifically the Limpopo Valley Corridor Tourism Development Plan (Mozambique); the Integrated Tourism Development Plan for the Dinokeng project in north-eastern Gauteng; the Vilankulo Waterfront and Marina Development Plan (an extension of the LV SDI); the Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park (an aspect of the Mtwara SDI, Tanzania); Master Plan for Praia da Rocha (Inhambane, Mozambique); and the Tourism Master Plan for the Eastern Forests of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)” – so I guess we can believe what he has to say.

I’ve found his articles incredibly useful.

And then, of course, there’s CAPE TOWN TOURISM - www.capetown.travel – with its Responsible Tourism Charter (download as a pdf here),  and the Responsible Cape Town site – www.responsiblecapetown.co.za – where you can read and download articles and documents on topics as diverse as how the Consumer Protection Act and responsible tourism go together; Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism How-To Guide; the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism; and an introductory flyer on responsible tourism.

From my own point of view, I’ve got involved in #RTweek2012 through my work with MOSSEL BAY TOURISMwww.visitmosselbay.co.za – which has used the occasion to launch a register of members practicing responsible tourism (which will go live on the web site sometime in March).  And we’ve also inaugurated a Mossel Bay Toyota Responsible Tourism Week Photo Safari – an informal competition that will be open to photographers in professional, amateur, and smart phone categories, with all the entries loaded and appropriately tagged on flickr (it’s a photo sharing site, if you didn’t know).

The photo safari will take place on land, and, conditions permitting, under water this Saturday, the 18th of February, from 9:00 a.m. till 12 noon, and will start at the Cape St. Blaize Cave. The winners will be announced on Facebook – www.facebook.com/visitmosselbay – the winning pics will be displayed at Mossel Bay Toyota, and the Garden Route Game Lodge has promised a weekend in the bush for the photographer who makes the best image – no matter which category he or she has entered.

As Sean Snyman, the organiser of the photo safari, said: “It’s not about the prize: it’s about having fun, and learning what Mossel Bay has to offer in terms of responsible tourism.”

And that, in the end, is what Responsible Tourism Week is all about: generosity, sharing, and caring.

That, and the spirit of adventure – and curiosity. Because it’s curiosity that will eventually lead us to finding the right solutions that will benefit us all, travellers and host communities alike – as you’ll agree once you’ve watched the beautiful manifesto “The future belongs to the curious”  from the brilliant – and generous – people at Skillshare.

Thanks @RonMader: your #RTweek2012 has been brilliant.