Sustainable Tourism and How To Do It
Author: Mishka Ramdas, Digital Copywriter
As the world evolves, so does the travel industry. Slowly but surely, entities are implementing procedures to minimize their carbon footprint and boost their contributions to local communities. With that being said, more and more travellers are also becoming aware of how their habits affect the natural world around them. Therefore, we at Africa Tailormade, thought it would be a great time to share some tips on how to travel sustainably.
You may be wondering, what does ‘sustainable tourism’ mean? It is an approach to tourism that prioritizes low environmental impact and social responsibility. The aim is to provide development in the tourism industry and bring positive experiences for local people as well as travellers. Ecotourism and sustainable tourism go together. However, ecotourism focuses on offering travellers an opportunity to appreciate the natural landscapes, wildlife and local culture of a particular area. This is intended to promote the conservation of natural resources for future generations.
Sustainable travel is a multifaceted concept and is said to be held up by 3 pillars:
- Applying environmentally friendly practices, for example, The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
- Protecting cultural heritage. Many establishments do this by restoring historic buildings or implementing measures to save endangered species, which in many cases, travellers can take part in.
- Offering tangible social and economic benefits for local communities.
Now, you must be thinking, “how can I do my part?”, well that is where Africa Tailormade comes in. Here are 5 ways to travel sustainably in South Africa.
#1 Buy Local
Africa has plenty to offer the avid traveller. Each region boasts their own eclectic culture that has been carried over generations. When you support a local establishment or business, you are consciously exercising your purchasing power which can redistribute money to developing countries. Local-level tourism plays an important role in the alleviation of poverty. You can accomplish this by dining locally in restaurants that make use of locally sourced ingredients, visiting markets, purchasing items from curio shops, and making use of local guides when visiting communities and villages.
#2 Contribute and Volunteer Towards Conservation Initiatives
Within Africa, one of the most important tourism sectors is safaris, and rightly so. Being so rich in wildlife has come with its pros and cons. An obvious pro, is the contribution it makes to the economy. Many establishments fund programmes to protect the wildlife of Africa, especially elephants and rhinos that are threatened by poaching, as well as other endangered animals such as the pangolin. By supporting wildlife establishments, such as game and nature reserves, you are essentially promoting the conservation thereof – giving value to nature and providing the necessary funds to protect it.
#3 Take the Road Less Travelled
If you limit yourself to all-inclusive resorts, you truly are missing out on the beauty of Africa. Taking the road less travelled will not only offer you an abundance of memories but you will also have a better impact on the environment. While the hordes scuffle down the well-trodden tourist track, why not venture out of the fold and into the fray? Visit places that offer a less crowded experience and promote a human connection between locals and tourists. This ultimately reduces pressure on local environments and infrastructure allowing you to invest directly into local communities. If you are keen on visiting a popular site, try doing so during the low season.
#4 Reduce your Water Consumption
Several towns in South Africa are currently stricken with water restrictions and many communities are quite conscious of managing their water consumption. It is important that travellers do the same when in these regions. Not only is it respectful but it also assists the country in more ways than one. You can curb excessive water usage by re-using your towels and bedding, flushing the toilet less often and only when needed, limiting long showers, report leaking taps and toilets.
#5 Travel with Eco-Friendly Reusables
In South Africa, up to 84% of plastic waste is dispersed into oceans or overflowing landfills, and only 16% of plastic gets recycled. When travelling, the use of plastic items should be reduced as much as possible. You can combat this by, using a reusable water bottle, a travel mug, a foldable/cloth shopping bag, metal or bamboo straw and utensils. Also be on the lookout for ways to reduce your plastic consumption by opting for plastic-free packaging, purchasing items packaged in glass or tin, steering clear of cling wrap and chewing on less gum.
We hope that this list will help you become a responsible tourist which really is the gift that keeps on giving. If more and more travellers become mindful of their impact and take the above list into consideration when they travel, it will make a massive collective difference to the value of tourism in South Africa.