ART&TUR 4 Questions to Caroline Ungersbock

Caroline Ungersbock and CIFFT Director Alexander V. Kammel at ART&TUR 2018

Involved with ART&TUR since 2017, juror Caroline Ungersbock, is someone deeply entrenched in tourism, namely as a member of various Committees, forums and boards in the Tourism Industry. For our ART&TUR 4 Questions series of interviews, Caroline reveals a little about herself, her projects and her involvement with ART&TUR, while also conveying her perspective on the role of audiovisual in tourism and how the festival can contribute to the sustainability and resilience of the industry.

What do you think is the role of audiovisual communication in the context of tourism?

It is extremely important to have audiovisual communication.  It pricks one’s senses and transports one to the place.  One comes alive with the music and the visuals.

How can ART&TUR contribute to increasing sustainability and resilience in tourism?

By having such categories, it will bring it to the attention of people watching the films. I have been training hospitality and tourism about sustainability and resilience and it is still a subject that is totally misunderstood. Sustainability is about being out there showing what you have whilst caring for the environment. Whether it is social impact, resource efficiency, minding ones’ carbon footprint.

How many years have you collaborated with ART&TUR and what would you highlight about this collaboration?

I was first invited to speak at ART&TUR in 2017 where I was introduced to this new world of Film Festivals promoting Tourism and Sustainability.  It was the year of Sustainable Development.  I was really concerned that there were no films from Africa.  I know that Africa has talent and when I got back to South Africa, I made it my business to promote establishments and tourism businesses to enter their films into ART&TUR in 2018.  It was in 2018, that I was encouraged by the Management of ART&TUR to have something similar in South Africa. I decided the time was right to have a festival of the same nature in Africa and in 2019 we had the first entries for the International Tourism Film Festival Africa.  We had an overwhelming amount of entries 897 entries from 92   countries.  ART&TUR will always be close to my heart as that is where a new chapter in my life began.  Market access is such an important aspect of sustainability.

Caroline, tell us a little about yourself and your projects.

I became involved in Tourism by accident.  I opened a guesthouse in 2006.  There were many rules and regulations and thought to myself that if I am having a difficult time getting around it there must be others in the same situation. I then started an Accommodation Association in my area and in no time we had  15 members.   I then encouraged other areas to start similar associations and became the Chairperson of all the combined Associations and eventually President of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa.  I grew the Association from 700 members to over 1200 members.  Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Development was very close to my heart and I developed a passion for Rural Development.  I then started a Not for Profit Company with a fellow colleague to promote Sustainable Tourism Practices in Tourism and hospitality in rural areas.  I am the Chairperson of the TC228 Committee which looks at ISO standards in Tourism.  We developed the Standards  Responsible Tourism and Service Excellence in Tourism. I also chair the Service Excellence in Tourism forum in South Africa and sit on various Boards in Tourism.  I have just been nominated to Chair another 2 Committees starting 1 July.  I got involved in tourism by accident, tourism chose me.

We contribute and edit a Sustainable Tourism Handbook which is going onto Volume 9.  This handbook is printed and distributed around the world.  It is also distributed digitally to over 90 000 people. We get peers around the world to contribute articles that are topical in Sustainability at the time.  

We are presently involved in developing the National Strategy for Astro Tourism for the Department of Science and Innovation.  This is a very interesting project.  It marries science with tourism and creates wonderful development opportunities in rural areas.  

We are also the conveners of the International Tourism Film Festival Africa which is now in it’s third year.

In July, I will be moving to a Rural town in South Africa to continue my work on rural development in one Town.   The town has the oldest Art Deco Theatre, and we will be developing it into ‘Centre of the Arts’ for the region. I will be opening another Guesthouse in the town Victoria West.

The Town also has an Aerodrome that we will be re developing so that we can increase tourism and access to the area.  We have nicked named the aerodrome ‘Gateway to the Galaxy’ as  it will be the closest air access to the largest Telescope and Square Kilometre Array project which is an intergovernmental radio telescope.

Hopefully one day I will be able to write the ‘manual’ of what works and what doesn’t work for rural development in South Africa.  

Look forward to further collaboration with ART&TUR and hopefully we will be seeing you in October at the event in person.

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