The Cape invited to UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations

Smart Destinations
3 min read

Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer, Judy Lain, will be representing Cape Town and the Western Cape at the 2nd United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Conference on Smart Destinations this year.

Taking place in Oviedo, Spain, the Cape was invited by the UNWTO to take part in a panel discussion on The importance of the circular economy for sustainable tourism development.

Lain will be joined by researchers, entrepreneurs and other tourism stakeholders from Germany, Slovenia and Finland to discuss how new technologies can be exploited to support the entire tourism ecosystem in its transition from a linear to a more circular production and consumption model, fostering restoration, regeneration and re-use.

Having gained extensive experience in the first quarter of this year as to how to respond to the severe water crisis, Cape Town and the Western Cape has already taken steps to build a more sustainable tourist destination.

“January 2018 marks the decisive moment when as a province, we embraced the opportunity to change our relationship with water forever. We started to future proof our homes, our businesses, our tourists, our towns – the result of which has created the Cape as a water resilient destination and world leaders in sustainability,” explains Lain as she reflects on the collective efforts between citizens, government and businesses over the first quarter of this year.

Incorporating digital technology into the visitor experience, Lain explains how one of the biggest concerns from tourists was that they were/are going to use water meant for locals, with the reverse concern from locals that visitors are going to consume too much water. In response to this barrier, Wesgro in partnership with Flow developed a water off-set tool called My Waterfoot Print ( The tool allows visitors to the Cape to calculate their daily water usage, then offset this usage by donating money towards a water conservation project. See a short video on how it works here,

Incorporating visitors into the #waterwisetourism solution, Lain adds: “Through the tool, visitors to our water-scarce destination have been incentivised to check their usage, while experiencing our unparalled natural beauty, award-winning food and wine, rich culture and heritage, and world-famous landmarks.”

UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvilli, acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the Cape’s tourism sector commenting: “We recognise the huge efforts that South Africa, especially the Cape Town local authorities, are undertaking in addressing the water situation and the inclusive approach that has been taken throughout the campaign in raising awareness for the end users and tourists in becoming more responsible.”

With climate change being a new reality that will affect more and more cities around the world in coming years, Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO, commented: “The Cape Town Model’ for dealing with climate change shows how tourism can be an important part of the solution. We are honoured to be invited to share our initiatives and acquire new knowledge on the esteemed platform created by the UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations 2018.”

Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said: “The Western Cape is positioning itself at the forefront of the green economy, and there is a lot of scope for our tourism sector to become more involved in the circular model. Cape Town has become a global example for drastic water reduction during the drought, and we hope to develop our tourism industry to be resilient and sustainable in order to grow and protect it, and the many important jobs that it creates, going forward.”