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International Thought Leader in Sustainable Tourism joins the STPP

Heidi van der Watt, one of Tourism South Africa’s most respected and knowledgeable responsible tourism specialists, has been appointed to the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme’s board of directors.

Heidi van der Watt
Heidi van der Watt

Heidi’s appointment is perfectly timed as the STPP is gearing up for 2014, building on the successes of its first year. The STPP is focused on main-streaming sustainable practices amongst small and entrepreneurial tourism businesses. While the STPP was only established in December 2012, it has created awareness in 25 towns, formed partnerships with Nedbank, Media Company Alive2Green and local social media giant, MXIT, amongst others. The STPP works closely with patrons, including Glenn Phillips, Dr Azar Jammine, Eldrid Jordaan, Erald Felix and Steve Haze to name but a few.

According to Niki Glen, Programme Director of the STPP, Heidi’s specialisation in regional and local economic development, socio-economic assessments and responsible tourism, raises the profile of the STPP. “We have a philosophy of collaboration and capacity building through partnerships and Heidi’s appointment exemplifies this. She had joined us earlier in 2013 as a Patron, as she also believes that strong collaboration is they key to success for all, and the foundation of tourism sustainability,” continues Niki.

Heidi has worked in the economic and spatial development arena for just short of 20 years. Her project experience spans local economic development strategies, market assessments, feasibility studies, business planning, tourism sector strategies, and programme monitoring and evaluation. She has undertaken projects for local, provincial and national government, government tourism agencies, private sector investors and financing across South Africa. Internationally, she has worked in Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Seychelles, Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon, Russia, Tanzania and India. Combined with her commitment and strong networks, her experience significantly enhances STPPs profile in the industry.

Heidi will continue her role as Consultant for ED/GE Tourism Solutions and various other tourism portfolios, while supporting the STPP with stakeholder engagement and programme development in the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape. Heidi teams up with three founding members; Caroline Ungersbock, who has significantly improved the profile of small business in the industry over the past three years; Niki Glen, with a strong programme management background and well into attaining a PhD in Sustainable Tourism and Adv. Louis Nel, advising many tourism partners on legal, risk and compliance matters. The programme is set to drive significant sustainable change to the tourism industry in the next ten years, and aims to build more strong partnerships along the way.

For more information on the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme, visit

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