7th November marked World Responsible Tourism Day which aims to encourage the travel and tourism industry and the travelling public to commit to practices which are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.
Ed: Photo credit for image at the top of the page, with thanks to Chris Murphy. You can view more of his work at www.christopherjphoto.com/valley
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer said: “South Africa is seen as a global leader when it comes to responsible tourism, and the first formal declaration in this regard was signed right here in Cape Town in 2002. That declaration recognised the importance of ensuring that responsible tourism generates more opportunities for local people, improves working conditions and creates wider access to the industry.”
The declaration also focused on the sustainable use of resources and protection of the environment.
Schäfer said: “In the Western Cape, the tourism industry really stepped up to the plate with regards to responsible water use during the drought with many establishments investing heavily in alternative water sources, water savings technology and messaging to visitors.”
“And while we have had excellent rains, as we approach the hot summer season and the busy tourism peak, we again appeal to visitors to use water responsibly while in the province.”
Cape Town, which cut water usage by about half during the peak of the drought, has become a leading example in responsible water use and tourism. Helen Davies, chief director for the green economy in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism is currently in London, where she has been included to speak on a panel regarding tourism and water at the World Travel Market trade show.
Schäfer said that responsible tourism also meant ensuring that communities are able to benefit from the economic benefits of tourism.
“In the Western Cape, tourism is one of our major job creators, creating more than 300 000 direct and indirect job opportunities. By committing to using more local suppliers and services, and fair labour practices, the tourism industry can ensure that tourism is also economically and socially responsible,” Minister Schäfer said.
“We encourage visitors to the Western Cape to immerse themselves in a full range of experiences, and to explore the vast array of activities on offer so as to support all aspects of the tourism industry- ranging from local food and crafts, to tour operators and accommodation establishments.”
Below are ten tips for responsible tourism practices in the Western Cape:
Contribute to water savings efforts by making small behavioural adjustments like taking short showers and using hand sanitizer instead of soap and water.
Respect the natural environment. The Western Cape is home to several endangered species of flora and fauna and visitors should enjoy these, but leave them untouched.
Support small businesses, entrepreneurs and social projects which aid in creating employment opportunities for the youth, disabled and women.
Consider using public transport to minimise your carbon footprint, or better yet, use the opportunity to ride one of the Western Cape’s cycle routes which have been developed to increase tourism opportunities in small towns across the province, in a fun and eco-friendly way.
Be respectful of historical and culturally sensitive sites.
When dining out, familiarise yourself with the SASSI list of sustainably caught fish and order only from the green list.
Respect the dignity of the people you meet and ask permission before taking photographs.
Bargaining occurs in tourist cities around the world but please respect that sellers are earning a living, and pay fair price for their goods.
Research and support tourism businesses that have sustainable and ethical tourism practices.
Do not partake in any activities that involve practices that are exploitative for locals, children or animals.
Ed: Talking with a couple of Accommodation suppliers it seems that visitors were very gracious and fully understood the measures we had to take.