Site logo

Sustainable Tourism and How To Do It

Author: Mishka Ramdas, Digital Copywriter

As the world evolves, so does the travel industry. Establishments, governments, and travel companies are slowly but surely introducing efforts to minimise their carbon footprint and boost their contributions to local communities. More and more people are becoming aware of how their habits affect the natural world around them, so we at Your Perfect Africa thought it would be a great time to share some tips on how to travel sustainably.

First things first, 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. But, 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 Your Perfect Africa comes in. Here are 5 ways to travel sustainably in South Africa.

#1 Buy Local

We all know that South Africa has so much to offer. Each province boasts their own eclectic culture that has been developed over generations. By supporting local establishments, you are consciously exercising your purchasing power which can redistribute money to developing countries. Local-level tourism has a profound effect on poverty alleviation. You can accomplish this by eating and dining locally in restaurants that make use of local ingredients, visiting local 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 are 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. With that being said, many of these 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

Experiences are limited when one only travels to all-inclusive resorts over touristed attractions. You would never truly experience South Africa if you did not experience all the unique destinations and regions it has to offer. 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 promotes 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 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.