As we all know the world is expanding at an amazing fast rate, and due to globalization and technology, people are travelling more than they have ever done in the past. Being aware of this fast rate of development, businesses all over the globe are tapping into this opportunity and they are building tourism related solutions everywhere, i.e. building hotels and resorts in major touristic destinations to accommodate the travelers. But are they operating responsibly, are they even aware of the concept of Responsible Tourism?
Some time ago, about thirty or so years, the new concept of green tourism was thought off. This concept was majorly concerned with the wildlife of the touristic locations. It was called ecotourism and their to go motto was “Take only photographs, leave only footprints”. While all of this was great, and it still is, there were a few small glitches with it; it was focusing on the flora and fauna, but failed to consider the residents, the people living in these places, being equally affected by the tourists. The locals should also be taken in consideration, and along the flowers and the animals they too should benefit from the tourism industry.
George, R. (2007),” Managing Tourism in South Africa” mentions in his research that although responsible and sustainable tourism are different concepts, they do share similarities and both have the goal of reaching sustainable development. Both share three core concepts, the society, the economy and the environment. The difference lays in responsible tourism also including tourism entities, hotels and the responsibility of their actions. It covers the process and the effect of developing a better product for the tourists and the impact of this development on the local community.
One thing led to another, and this is how Responsible Tourism came to be. It was initial defined in Cape Town 2002 along the World Summit on Sustainable Development, being widely used ever since, and recently, in 2007, has been adopted by the World Travel Market in 2007 for World Responsible Tourism Day.
“Responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justice and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognizes the centrality of the local host community and its right to act as a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, the local communities and the travelers”, defined by AITR’s members in 2005.
Basically, while a country or a region engages in touristic activities, they should make sure they develop in such a way that they do not harm the local environment, the local culture or ignore the local voices. Responsible tourism should create better places to live for the locals and better places to visit for the tourists, doing so in total harmony.
To support this movement, there is a declaration, and we can look at it as a guideline.
Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism
“The Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was organized by the Responsible Tourism Partnership and Western Cape Tourism as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, and attended by 280 delegates from 20 countries. It grew out of the South African work on responsible tourism guidelines and involved delegates field-testing the South African Guidelines on sites in and around the city.”
This declaration is explaining to us that responsible tourism is not a product, but rather an approach. Responsible tourism takes a variety of forms, being characterized by the following points:
This is the overall picture of what responsible tourism is, now I will give you some tips of how you can be a responsible tourist as well as being a responsible business.
There should be no lack of understanding of what responsible tourism is. The appropriate government bodies and the businesses must have a good communication relationship. Some recommendations for the hotels would be:
Tourism and travelling are one of the best opportunities that our times can offer, let’s be mindful and protect both the environment and the people, because this is what makes a location truly unique!