Social & Environmental Commitment
Being a Responsible Traveller
Here are some tips and considerations on how to be a responsible traveller – a new way of enjoying your travel experiences – by sharing with locals the immense benefits of tourism and promoting a greater understanding of fair business practices. Responsible Tourism is about putting back into travel.
- Ask to see your tour operator’s RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL POLICY.
- Ask to see the ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY of the accommodation establishment that you have selected? Don’t be fooled by vague and unsubstantiated claims.
- Help the local economy by BUYING LOCAL PRODUCE in preference to imported goods.
- Ask your tour operator to establish the extent to which local communities enjoy benefits from your ECONOMIC SPEND during your stay at a location.
- IF BARGAINING to buy an item, bear in mind that a small amount to you could be extremely important to the seller. Be realistic and fair.
- Realise that often the people in the country you are visiting have DIFFERENT TIME CONCEPTS, VALUES and thought patterns from your own, this does not make them inferior, only different.
- CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF ASKING QUESTIONS and discover the pleasure that you can enjoy by seeing a different way of life through others eyes.
- USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT, hire a bike or walk where convenient. You will meet local people and get to know the place far better. Always be safe and considerate.
- USE WATER SPARINGLY. It is precious in many countries and the local people may not have sufficient clean water. Challenge any wasteful practice at your hotel or lodge.
- SWITCH SOMETHING OFF. Whenever you leave your room, switch unnecessary lights and equipment off.
- DON’T DISCARD LITTER when visiting out-of-the-way places and attractions, take it with you and dispose of it at your hotel or lodge. Waste disposal is often a major problem at outlying attractions and sites and it leads to litter and unhealthy environments for locals.
- RESPECT LOCAL CULTURES,TRADITIONS AND HOLY PLACES . For example, ask permission before you photograph local people. In some countries it can cause offence.
- LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCES THAT YOU ARE EXPOSED TO. Avoid “sound-byte” tourism and encourage tour operators to provide more insight into the traditional experiences that they present to you.
- DO NOT BUY PRODUCTS MADE FROM ENDANGERED SPECIES, hard woods, shells from beach traders, or ancient artefacts (which have probably been stolen). When visiting gift and curio shops, be aware of the source of the products on sale and if in doubt, don’t buy.
- READ UP on the countries you plan to visit. The welcome will be warmer if you take an interest and speak even a few words of the local language.
- When you get home drop your tour operator a note to let them know how you got on.
South Africa does not have an official environmental rating system for the tourism or hospitality industry at this time. The Heritage Programme is currently South Africa’s leading tourism and business-based environmental certification programme. Others include Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) while there are some that operate on a less formal basis. Visitors are urged to determine the environmental rating of their accommodation providers at time of booking.
Gratuities and Tipping
Tipping for good service is common practice in South Africa. The common standard is 10% of the bill or final charge. Certain restaurants practice inclusive gratuity policies and you are advised to check the details on restaurant bills before tipping. Tipping should only be considered based on your satisfaction of the service provided.