For over 30 years, the term “eco-tourism” has been used to identify destination and travel practices that are intended to have a positive impact on the environments visited. While these efforts are well intentioned, there are no generally agreed upon standards by which a level of actual accomplishment can be measured. In fact, there are dozens of organizations in the world that offer varying levels of “certification” or recognition as an “eco-tourism” destination or company. In many people’s eyes, “eco-tourism” has become more of a marketing label than a meaningful measure of actual behavior or real achievement.
Many people came to realize that “eco-tourism,” even when highly effective, addressed only one dimension of the real world. As more effective strategies were examined, “sustainability” joined the language of travel descriptions and eventually led to the concept of Responsible Travel.
So what is responsible travel?
Simply stated, responsible travel encompasses actions that address three major issues:
1. Encourage and participate in the protection of the local environments within which we travel.
2. Respect the cultures and traditions of the local communities, including honoring their sacred places.
3. Provide benefits to communities – benefits that assist the communities on their terms. In other words, supports those aspects of their lives that the local communities determine are important to them – as opposed to supporting projects that visitors may feel are important.
Quoting Lonely Planet, “Traveling by the responsible travel ethos is one of the most direct and personal ways you can make a difference to some of the biggest issues affecting our world: poverty and peace. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem – and have the time of your life doing it.”
Please take a look at the IMPACT ON AFRICA page to learn more about how Safari Professionals and our friends and travelers make a difference in Africa.