With the increasing panic surrounding the state of our planet, all business sectors, including tourism, are under growing pressure to embrace ethical and eco-friendly ‘best practices’. Responsible tourism has evolved as the answer to this growing concern and was formalised by the Cape Town declaration in 2002.
Without environmental integrity, social uplifting of local communities and a broad-based view of tourism that incorporates both ethics and human rights, the sector cannot be deemed sustainable.
Tourists are becoming more discerning
Prospective travellers are becoming more and more discerning in their choice of destination and travel partners, and will go to great lengths to ascertain the eco-friendliness of both.
In a nutshell, tourists are now scrutinising their transport, accommodation and meal options in terms of employment policies, energy conservation, recycling of waste, water conservation and local community involvement, as well as the overall carbon footprint of each.
An important facet of responsible tourism is considering the impact of tourism on the environment and the culture of the local people. If is creates greater economic opportunities for the local community and at the same time minimises the negative environmental, economic and social impact of the visit, then it can be viewed at responsible tourism.
The basic tenets of responsible tourism
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Tourism Chapter held in Cape Town in 2002, an all-embracing philosophy promoting the best practice in both the supply and demand partners of the industry was formally accepted. The basic tenets of green or responsible tourism include:
- The generation of additional economic advantages at grassroots level for local communities
- The improvement of working conditions
- More community involvement in decision-making that will affect both their livelihoods and prospective opportunities
- Respectful and dignified interactions with the local cultures, including a greater understanding of social, environmental and cultural issues affecting the communities
- Positively contributing to the conservation of both the environment and culture of the destination
Promote consciousness on all levels
Quite simply, the tourism industry must be seen to be promoting consciousness on all levels around the undeniable fact that planet earth is under enormous threat. Can you imagine a world without responsible tourism? 4 x4’s destroying fragile eco systems, the decimation of species, the alienation of local communities and the consequential destruction of the planet as a whole.