Heidi van der Watt
Heidi has worked extensively in responsible tourism, aiming to “create better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”. She is the founder of Better Tourism Africa (formerly the International Centre for Responsible Tourism – South Africa) and owner of EDGE Tourism Solutions, based in South Africa. Much of her work over the last 2 decades has been in regional and local economic development in developing countries – places where tourism can play a significant role in improving quality of life and safeguarding the environment. Heidi’s expertise in sustainable tourism has been enhanced by her Masters degree in Town and Regional Planning. Apart from projects in Southern Africa, Heidi has worked on tourism projects in other parts of Africa, India and Russia.
Heidi has helped shape South Africa’s vision as a responsible tourism destination. She developed a National Strategy for Responsible Tourism for the Department of Tourism, played a key role in the development of the Responsible Tourism Guidelines, and managed the development of Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan and the National Standard for Responsible Tourism. Heidi holds leadership positions in a number of African organisations, including the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme and Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance Africa. Heidi also sits on the WTM Responsible Tourism Advisory Panel and is a board member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Jacques works as an independent development consultant and planner specialising in destination development, planning and management with a particular emphasis on arts, culture and heritage. He serves on the councils of Better Tourism Africa, Heritage Association of South Africa, Egoli Heritage Foundation and is a founding member of the Heritage Monitoring Project which lobbies and advocates for greater transparency and accountability in the heritage sector. Jacques – through his consulting practice Place Matters – has worked on a wide range of tourism and heritage assignments for corporate and government clients.
He holds an M. Phil in urban infrastructure design and management with the University of Cape Town, a post-graduate diploma of arts from the University of the Witwatersrand and a bachelor of commerce in tourism and hospitality management from the University of Pretoria. His current research focuses on inner city heritage conservation in declined historic neighbourhoods in Pretoria, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya. He lives in Johannesburg.
Dr Glen Thompson
Glen Thompson holds a PhD in History from Stellenbosch University, completed in 2014, and wears two professional hats. He works as the business development and compliance manager for BulkSMS.com, a mobile messaging service provider. He is also research associate in the Department of History, Stellenbosch University. He works from Cape Town.
His work life began with lecturing history at the Westville campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal before moving on to position as a researcher in the Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights in KwaZulu-Natal. He then entered the heady ecommerce start-up sector, then exited and consulted on socio-economic research—including tourism small business development, evaluating tourism events, and assisting in coordinating the Tourism Learning Forum—before returning to the technology sector to join BulkSMS.com.
He serves as a board member of Better Tourism Africa and Surfing Heritage South Africa, and is a trustee for Waves for Change, a surf therapy non-profit working among township youth in Cape Town.
He has published on surfing’s socio-cultural history—his first was “Making Waves, Making Men” in Robert Morrell’s Changing Men in Southern Africa (2001) and his most recent “Otelo Burning and Zulu Surfing Histories” in the Journal of African Cultural Studies (2014). He approaches critical surfing studies as a southern Africanist historian and is currently working on a monograph based on his PhD thesis, which focused on race, gender and politics in this history South African surfing culture. His other research interests include: surf tourism, surfing and sports development, digital humanities, and histories of the beach in southern Africa.
His interest in surfing extends into the development of the sport: he is the Secretary of Earthwave Tandem Surfing Club and the Environmental Officer for Stand-Up Paddling South Africa (SUPSA), the national sports body. His most recent surfing accolade is winning the Legends division of the 2015 South African Stand Up Paddleboard Wave Championships.
Lisa brings a broad range of experience to the responsible tourism sphere, combining a background in tourism operations and wildlife conservation policy with responsible tourism certification and related technical business development expertise. Since 2000, Lisa has focused her efforts in southern Africa and over that period she has been invited to take part in numerous international and regional initiatives involving, e.g. the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), national tourism ministries and standard setting bodies, and certification organisations. In the field, Lisa has worked with over 100 different tourism businesses to implement more sustainable and responsible operating practices that are suited to their scale and context, and she has conducted over 180 audit exercises against best practice standards in responsible tourism.
Lisa applies her passion for supporting a transition to a better way of doing business through technical on-site training of line staff and managerial teams as well as developing training manuals and ‘how to’ guides on responsible tourism. Lisa has been a long-standing member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance Africa, and is an associate member of the IUCN’s Tourism and Protected Areas Working Group (TAPAS) and Director of Levelle Perspectives.