What is Responsible Tourism?

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Choosing responsible tourism does not mean having less fun whilst travelling; it means doing so with respect for the people and environment within your chosen destination of travel.

Tourism is a trillion dollar industry and accounts for roughly 10% of the global GDP, which leads to a major impact on both people and the environment across the world. Depending on the way tourism initiatives are implemented and the way each tourist decides to travel, the effects of tourism can be negative or positive. These effects can be at global and regional level right down to the local level within the destination of travel.

Responsible tourism protects the health of the natural environment © Tongabezi

As a traveller, understanding and choosing responsible tourism means travelling mindfully, as the goal of this tourism model is to minimise negative social, economic and environmental impacts as well as empower local people through the economic benefits of tourism. Not only is the traveller held accountable, all stakeholders involved in tourism are responsible for upholding environmental integrity, social justice and equitable distribution of the money generated.

Understanding the main principles of responsible tourism means being empowered with the knowledge and tools to allow you to travel through Africa with minimal negative impact.

Community Respect & Empowerment

There is much to learn from the Maasai whilst in Kenya © Cottar’s 1920’s Safaris

Travelling responsibly means respecting and conserving local cultures and ways of life. Your holiday to a foreign destination, is also a visit to somebody else’s home. Treating them and their places with consideration is the ethical thing to do; it does not take any effort but creates opportunities for more authentic and engaged travel.

As part of their commitment to responsible tourism, Cottar’s 1920’s Safaris has collaborated with the local Maasai community and landowners of the Olderkesi Conservancy in Kenya to establish the Cottar Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Olderkesi Community Wildlife Conservancy pilot project. Dialogue is open and ongoing between Cottars and the Maasai in order to ensure a win-win situation for all.

Some of the over 240 learners at Tujatane School in Zambia © Tongabezi

Responsible tourism does not only strive to promote cultural respect for local people but also to give communites a central role in the touristic development of their own area. Contributing to greater awareness of and placing more importance in supporting local economies amongst travellers leads to stronger local economies and a better quality of life for local people.

Tongabezi is a leader in responsible tourism in Zambia. They put their money where their mouth is in the initiation and hands-on management of four different projects at the lodge and within the surrounding area. For instance, the Tongabezi Trust School has enabled funds generated through local tourism and donations to build the Tujatane School and houses for teachers in the Mukuni village.

Environmental & Wildlife Conservation

Solar panels generate enough electricity for Nuarro lodge and parts of the local community © Nuarro Lodge

Minimising the environmental impact of tourism and tourists is a key aspect of responsible tourism. The tourism sector and travellers have to take care to protect and conserve the natural environment as well as the animal and bird life that call it home. Conservation of wildlife species is as much the responsibility of the tourism sector as the government authorities and non-profit organisations.

Along with supporting the local communities of Nanatha Bay in Mozambique through health education programmes and constructing much-needed community structures, Nuarro Lodge generates electricity and clean water for its guests, employees and community. The hybrid-system used by the lodge ensures reliable generation of electricity with the lowest carbon footprint.

Fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables are grow in the garden at Cottar’s Safari Camp © Cottar’s 1920’s Safaris

An essential aspect of caring for the environment is through farming produce that is local, organic and seasonal. This means that the food served at an environmentally-friendly safari lodge or camp, such as at Cottar’s 1920’s Safaris, should have a minimal (if any) transport-related carbon footprint and does not poison the environment with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Being a responsible traveller means making a positive impact on the people and environments visited; it does not mean less fun. Chat to us about creating a safari that fulfills the principles of responsible tourism and ticks all the boxes on your safari bucketlist.

Note: Feature image taken by Valorie Darling Photography of Kin Travel at Cottar’s 1920’s Safaris