Heidi van der Watt
Director: Better Tourism Africa
Heidi @heidivdwatt has worked extensively in responsible tourism, aiming to “create better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”. 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 the quality of life and safeguarding the environment. She has collaborated with destinations, businesses, destination organisations and place management authorities in 12 countries, assisting to plot their sustainability journeys. Apart from projects in Southern Africa, Heidi has worked on tourism projects in other parts of Africa, India and Russia.
She is the founder of Better Tourism Africa, an NPO advocating the principles of the 2002 Cape Town Declaration and secretariat for the Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance Africa. Heidi co-founded the African Responsible Tourism Awards with Professor Harold Goodwin in 2014. She is a member of the WTM Responsible Tourism Advisory Panel and has served on the board of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council since 2012. Her current PhD research with the Institute of Development Studies at Massey University examines the effects of marine wildlife tourism on sustainable development for local people in Gansbaai, South Africa.