Responsible Tourism – maximising the positive impacts of tourism

Travelling responsibly can produce some of the best and most enjoyable travel experiences whilst, at the same time, benefiting local people and destinations. In short, responsible travel and tourism create a series of ‘win-win-win situations’ where both travellers, local businesses and host communities will benefit.

Over the last few years, the concepts of Responsible Travel and Responsible Tourism have seen a massive increase in usage and awareness within the industry and amongst travellers themselves. As discussed at the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations (2002) and agreed in The Cape Town Declaration, it is widely accepted that Responsible Tourism is about ‘making places better for people to live and for people to visit’.

  • Responsible Tourism is about making places better for people to live and for people to visit.–Cape Town Declaration

There are, however, also other terms and concepts like ‘green tourism’, ‘eco tourism’, ‘geotourism’, ‘pro-poor tourism’, ‘community-based tourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ which are all in frequent use. In many cases, some of these concepts will overlap and chances are that they will mean different things to different people. As there are no universally accepted definitions, the different terms might also convey different meanings in different places. We do, however, believe that it is important for both travellers and travel providers to be aware of some of the potential impacts of their travel and, then, take the appropriate actions.

  • Behaviour can be more or less responsible and what is responsible in a particular place depends upon environment and culture.–Prof. Harold Goodwin

We have provided a set of Responsible Travel Tips, but, the list is not exclusive, so please get in touch and let us know about your favourite tips and things to do to make the places we travel better places for people to live and for people to visit.

Responsible Tourism

  • minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts
  • generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities
  • improves working conditions and access to the industry
  • involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
  • makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity
  • provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaninful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
  • provides access for physically challenged people
  • is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence

Cape Town Declaration, 2002

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Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I know if 'green' places really are green?
    Unfortunately, there are no bulletproof ways to tell unless you do a bit of research before you travel. Many hotels, restaurants, tour operators and travel agents will, however, publish some of their awards and accolades on their website. Proactive companies would, in general, also be happy to tell you more about the various projects and initiatives they have implemented and work with and explain their environmental impact and how they support the local economy.
  • Can I really save the world in a couple of days?
    Unfortunately, no. We’d love to be able to save the world in a couple of days ourselves, but what we can do is provide you with loads of responsible travel tips (of which we hope you will share with your friends, family and fellow travellers) and put you in touch with vetted organisations that will help you learn more about the destinations you are travelling to. Then it’s up to you to continue the good work after you’ve come back from your travels.
  • What's your take on 'orphanage tourism'?
    Most people want to travel responsibly and ‘do some good’ whilst travelling. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people take advantage of their generosity and genuine want to do good. For some, ‘a visit to an orphanage’ has even become an integral part of the tourist trail without thinking about the potential consequences. We don’t think children should be tourist attractions and, therefore, we strongly encourage people to do some research and learn more about the unintended consequences of people visiting (and volunteering at) orphanages. If in doubt, chances are that there are better ways to use your enthusiasm to benefit the local community.

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