When it comes to responsible tourism and doing the right thing in business, it’s easy to feel intimidated and think that it’s only the ‘big guys’ that have the means to do it. Agreed, the means are often out of reach of many small businesses, and the perceived costs and complications enough to put even the bravest of us off.
But you know the sayings: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and as awful as it sounds, ‘How do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite’. So how do you go about changing things for the better? Step by small incremental step, learning from those who’ve gone before, those who have championed the cause of responsible tourism, and making changes in the way you do business.
And it can be just as intimidating for a traveller to know where to go, where to stay and what activities to do, so this list of ‘champions’ will help the decisions.
Champions of Responsible Tourism in Cape Town
Cape Town has a wealth of these champions – from the big budget operations like Table Mountain Aerial Cableway with their innovative ways of dealing with water and waste management, the V&A Waterfront’s huge investment into resource management, everyone’s favourite, the Two Oceans Aquarium with its commitment to raise awareness about the environment, ‘Africa’s Greenest Hotel’ Hotel Verde that was constructed from-the-ground-up as a green environmentally efficient building, and the Cape Town Marathon, a mega-event that is a certified climate neutral event and in 2017 was voted the Greenest Marathon in the world.
To small enterprises like Uthando South Africa, whose every breath sees them building capacity into disadvantaged communities and Coffeebeans Routes who create experiences that bring travellers and locals together as a means of sharing one another’s reality in a sociable and beneficial way, and Moonglow Guesthouse in Simon’s Town, who source all their bathroom amenities, floor mats and curio shop crafts from a local community project.
Some examples of Responsible Tourism in South Africa
Further afield in the Western Cape there’s !Khwa ttu which introduces guests to the world of southern Africa’s San Culture, their people and their rich history, Dyer Island Cruises that brings the world of conservation to life with their marine tours and Grootbos with its commitment to conservation, the environment and local communities.
Venture into KwaZulu-Natal and there’s Three Tree Hill with its strong ethos of community upliftment, local employment and environmental sustainability and Kosi Forest Lodge whose Manager Blessing was involved in digging trenches when building of the lodge, proof of their commitment to employing locally and promoting from within. Head to Limpopo and there’s Umlani Bush Camp where staff members have direct input into decision making processes and Madi a Thava where guests experience a sense of place surrounded by the stories, culture and beauty of the local Venda people.
And into Africa
And beyond South Africa’s borders there’s Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana with its exceptional environmental management initiatives and all women guiding team (a first in a very male-dominated industry), and Anvil Bay, a community lodge in Mozambique that has uplifted, trained and employed members of the local community who had never worked in hospitality before. And there’s Green Safaris, which operates properties in Zambia and Malawi, and is using tourism to contribute to conservation, community development and the promotion of engaged tourism, and Lemala Camps and Lodges for increasing diversity in tourism by being mindful about who they employ at various levels, who they market to, the way they present the destinations they sell, the range of experiences they promote and the stories they tell.
Why is it important?
Knowing that an establishment or experience has been recognised for their efforts brings peace of mind to travellers – it does not however negate the need to be a responsible traveller and travel in mindful and conscious manner. For tourism businesses, it doesn’t all have to happen at once, rather be inspired to do what you can to ‘make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’ – the essence of responsible tourism is achieved improvement by improvement and ‘bite by bite’.