“Leave it better than you found it”. This is the motto often attributed to responsible tourism and sustainable tourism. Responsible tourism and sustainable tourism are two sides of the same coin, both working toward the goal of sustainable development – but there is a subtle difference.
The main difference between the two is that sustainable tourism requires companies and organisations to take responsibility for their actions and their impact on the environment. In contrast, responsible tourism holds individuals accountable for their choices and impact on society and the environment.
This shift in focus from businesses to individuals is what makes the difference between these two types of tourism. So how can travellers contribute? We look at some innovative examples of responsible tourism initiatives in Africa.
Covering the carbon footprint
Move over carbon-neutral safaris, carbon-positive safaris are here. The Safari Collection in Kenya has launched a Footprint Foundation that tracks the impact of every helicopter flight and gets guests to contribute to a “re-wilding” project. For every hour flown, the company plants six indigenous trees, offsetting its carbon footprint by more than three times. The pilot also has a box of indigenous “seed balls” on board for guests to toss from the helicopter.
Being sensitive and conscious of societies
What is the best way to help improve the lives of people in the communities you visit on your travels? One great way is to buy gifts and souvenirs from local businesses. This way, you can be sure that your money will go back into the community and support the residents.
Kazuri Beads is a stand-out supplier in Kenya because their beads are made from clay from Mount Kenya and not imported from factories in China. This clay is eco-friendly and low-impact, making it a responsible choice for tourists. The locals also benefit from producing and selling these products, as it provides them with an income.
Offering travellers more choice
Tented safaris have always held a good place in terms of responsible tourism, as they are non-permanent and therefore have little impact on the environment. However, Zarafa Camp in Botswana has taken this further because the tents are built entirely from recycled canvas and hardwoods.
According to a survey by Booking.com, one in three tourists want to choose deals that are easy on the planet. The example of Zarafa Camp shows that it there are many ways to offer travellers more choices – even in a very saturated safari market – and it can be an innovative way to differentiate from competitors.