Cultivating local tourism by being a cool community member

As a social media strategist and marketer, much of my life is spent trying to figure out what the special news and events of the month ahead can benefit my client. This means that I have had to become a calendar freak- with special highlighters for each event and heavily-pencilled weeks. September has been a hugely educational month for me and it hasn’t even reached the midway mark.

This month is:

• South African National Parks Week –where you have free access to selected national parks;
• Creative Week Cape Town;
• South African Tourism Month –focussing this year on the oft-neglected (but not as much the North-West) Northern Cape;
• Heritage Day AKA Braai Day;
• And, the one I had no idea existed: World Tourism Day on the 27 September, which melts into the rest of these events as well as butter in mashed potatoes.

Delving into World Tourism Day’s Google search revealed that it was first started in 1980 as “a global observance to highlight tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value” according to the official website. The global event is held annually in a different country with a specific focus. This year it’s held in Mexico and the theme is “Tourism and Community Development.”

The theme is incredibly apt for 2014, especially for South Africa, as we have seen increased tourism and global recognition in the last four years. After reading an extremely well-written article called How to Keep Travel Mode on At Home on cultivating community diversity and positive interaction in every day spaces and routines (in the writer’s and in my case, Cape Town), the connection I made to both tourism and community is the following.

By acting a like a tourist who experiences wonder in what we see as the minutiae of life –the people we interact with, the transport we use and the infrastructure around us –we contribute to becoming a better community. A community that seeks to constantly better itself is the cornerstone of improving and sustaining a city. This leads making a city more appealing, which is a honeycomb to swarms of happy tourists. The point is to cultivate the right kind of community attitude and engagement by starting out small and sincere. A good example of this is Durban’s Rivertown Project, which seeks to renovate an unused area in the city and turn it into a pedestrian-friendly space. By working with what a city has to improve peoples’ experiences of it makes their lives better and, in turn, the tourists who will visit it one day.

The point is to keep both our minds and attitudes positive to better the environments we live in to cultivate tourism. There are countless ideas that use design, green materials and technologies to sustain tourism while also improving peoples’ lives, most recently seen at Open Design Cape Town. This World Tourism Day and SA Tourism Month, ensure you do something that would make your community better –even if it is just making use of a cycle path or visiting a SAN Park.

How to find and support tourism in your own backyard:

 

  • Monitor the Twitter conversations #TravelLocal, #TTOT and #TravelSA to keep abreast of travel news and information
  • Head to Gansbaai for a weekend and go shark cage diving, whale-watching and hiking
  • Visit the West Coast flowers this spring
  • Travel to Stellenbosch and learn more about it’s heritage

 

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