South Africa leading the way in responsible tourism

Through the application of responsible tourism practices, we will develop the tourism sector as a national priority in a sustainable and acceptable manner, integrating tourism to the broader social and economic processes in society.” Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, South Africa.

South Africa has become one of the world leaders in responsible tourism.  With millions of tourists every year (8.9 million foreign tourists and 24.5 million domestic tourists in 2015, source: South African Tourism), coming to see the vast array of wildlife and interact with the indigenous people, South Africans have evolved their tourism industry to celebrate their natural riches, whilst  being sensitive to their host culture and protecting their wildlife for future generations.

Copyright (c) Lloyd Edwards / Raggy Charters

South Africa was amongst the first countries to include “Responsible Tourism” in its national tourism policy, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. Following the White Paper, the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) also produced the National Responsible Tourism Guidelines in 2002, which emphasised the need to address the triple bottom line of sustainable development (economic, environmental, and social sustainability).

In March 2011, the South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANMSRT) was launched.  These (voluntary) guidelines were to encourage the application of responsible tourism practices across South Africa, whilst integrating tourism in to the broader social and economic processes in society.

Said Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, South Africa: “This is an important milestone in the promotion of responsible tourism and the raising of awareness amongst tourists on the value of conserving our natural resources for sustainability to ensure continued growth in the tourism industry for years to come.”