As a nation, South Africa is undoubtedly behind the curve in terms of environmentally-sustainable tourism. Thankfully, that is changing thanks to a collective realisation that our spectacular habitats and abundant flora and fauna are the country and continent’s most precious resources. South Africa is home to many sustainable tourism service providers belonging to organisations such as Fair Trade, Green Tourism Active and Responsible Tourism South Africa.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Most people think that Sustainable Tourism is only about Eco-Tourism, keeping the environment clean and recycle is only one of the aspects of Sustainable Tourism. The Key to Sustainable Tourism is to respect the people living at that specific location, respect their cultures, their customs and their environment.
How to be a Sustainable Tourist
Tourism has become the biggest employer in the world, and there are cities, regions and even whole countries whose economies are almost totally dependent on it to survive. That is why it is so important to be a sustainable tourist when visiting these countries. I have put together a few pointers on how to be a sustainable tourist.
- Stay in locally owned Hotels and Backpackers, rather than big international chained Hotels and Backpackers.
- Buy local products and Food.
- Go to locally owned Restaurants, avoid places the International owned drive thru Restaurants, spend your money locally.
- Environment – Use a refillable Water bottle, instead of buying bottled water, recycle where possible.
- Use reusable bags, instead of plastic bags.
- Resources are much scarcer in certain countries, for example, in South Africa Water and electricity needs to be saved.
- Unplug chargers from plugs and turn of the lights of your hotel room each day.
Before travelling, do your research on the destination. In South Africa each province and town have its own limit on available resources.