Responsible Tourism Week – are you in?

On 10 February 2012, in Environmental Diary, News, by Andrew Bennett

Now in its fourth year, Responsible Tourism Week takes place from 13 – 19 February 2012. What is the week about? It is a week in which the tourism industry explores and brainstorms the practical application of sustainable tourism ideas and raises awareness around responsible travel concepts using cost effective and successful social media campaigns. The internationally supported week uses social media, facebook, twitter and virtual meets to collaborate and converse- its effectively an “unconference” and it’s free. And, because you can take part without leaving your home (or even straying too far from your laptop, tablet, or smart phone), there are no travelling costs, no bulging goodie bags and ridiculous amounts of packaged foods.


This year the Cape Town announced that they will join the world in discussing responsible tourism around the chosen theme ‘A responsible approach to tourism is good for business’. Throughout the week, the Responsible Cape Town website ( will feature guest blogs and news about how responsible tourism is working for local tourism businesses as well as international organisations. Many of Cape Town’s tourism businesses have embraced Responsible Tourism as one of their key drivers. Responsible Tourism week gives the tourism industry the opportunity to share international best practice through social media and online communications, demonstrating in a very practical way how environmental and social responsibility makes good business sense by exploring sustainable ideas such as cost-effective ways of reducing electricity use, buying locally made and fair-trade products for interiors and guest amenities, and supporting community development and conservation projects.

You can participate by joining the conversation online, at work, or with friends. Write a blog post, share your thoughts on Facebook, make a video and post it to YouTube, or Tweet with the hashtag #rtweek2012. Take it to any lengths you like – be creative. You’ll find more resources online at


So what can you do to be a more responsible tourist?


  • Holiday closer to home, offset your carbon footprint by planting a tree, or buying local produce.
  • Local is lekker: Talk to locals, employ local tour guides and stay in accommodation establishments that have invested in the local community. Experience local and regional cuisine, gaining an insight into the culture of the area. You will also be supporting the local economy.
  • Purchase souvenirs directly from community markets and crafters so that the money goes directly to local businesses.
  • Rather than giving money to beggars and street children, make an effort to donate to a local charity that supports community projects. Ask the local tourism beuro to recommend a reputable charity.
  • Experience local and regional cuisine, gaining an insight into the culture of the area. You will also be supporting the local economy.
  • Use water as efficiently as possible. Drink tap water, not bottled water. Do not leave your towels in your hotel room to be washed if they have only been used once. Try to use biodegradable shampoos and soaps.
  • Use electricity as efficiently as possible. Switch off the lights, electric fan, air conditioner and television when you are not in your room.
  • Make sure the seafood you want to buy and eat is not on the SASSI list of endangered species. Text (or SMS) the name of the fish to +27 (0)79 499 8795 and you will receive an answer within seconds.
  • Use of public transport when possible or take a walking tour….

You can read more  responsible tourism tips and take the online pledge at


Other reading:

Cape Town- responsible tourism destination of choice

White Paper on Sustainable Tourism Development and Promotion in the Western Cape


Responsible tourism policy for the City of Cape Town

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