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Responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximising the positive economic, social and environmental impacts and minimising the negative impacts.

Simply put, Responsible tourism is tourism that:

‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places for people to visit’.

Its is sometimes called sustainable tourism and can be confused with eco tourism, green tourism, ethical tourism and so many other types of tourism. The point is responsible tourism can include many different forms of tourism, however ultimately there are only two types of tourism:

Responsible vs. Irresponsible

A responsible tourism approach aims to achieve the triple-bottom line outcomes of sustainable development, i.e. economic growth, environmental integrity and social justice.

It is characterised by travel and tourism which:

  1. minimises negative environmental, social and cultural impacts;
  2. generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the wellbeing of host communities, by improving working conditions and access to the industry;
  3. involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
  4. makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
  5. provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural and environmental issues;
  6. provides access for physically challenged people; and
  7. is culturally sensitive and engenders  respect between tourists and hosts.

Source: 2002 Cape Town Declaration

For more information on Responsible Tourism refer to some of these key sites:

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