South Africa is a paradise for tourists. From the shores of Cape Town to the Kruger National Park there are so many things to see and do, many of them unique to this country. One of the real advantages to holidaying here is the diversity. South Africa is sometimes described as ‘megadiverse’ – a term applied to a select few countries which host an exceptional number of different landscapes, animal and plant species.
It’s no wonder then that almost 10 million people visit South Africa on holiday each year. Such a high number means big gains for the economy, accounting for a significant part of GDP and sustaining many a local, family business. It does however, also come with costs. Any kind of tourism leaves a ‘foot print’ – the impact on the local area, the local people, the wildlife and its natural habitat.
This is where Eco Tourism comes in. It’s a global concept with a long history, but in essence is about encouraging people to visit places of beauty in a respectful way that reduces the negative impact of tourism, while looking to support the local people and environment as much as possible. There are lots of different ways this is done and to the uninitiated trying to be ‘eco’ on holiday can be a challenge. To help you get started here are some practical tips for an ethical holiday in South Africa, one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
- Do your research: Before booking anything, have a look online at the kinds of environments you’ll be visiting and the environmental threats facing them. When seeking out potential holiday options – accommodation, trips, meals out – evaluate the business by whether and how it references the natural environment.
- Use your holiday to learn about the environmental issues facing South Africa: While you’ll no doubt want to relax, there’s always time on holiday to learn new things – and being informed is the most important step to reducing your impact. Try a locally-organised scavenger hunt that involves seeking out species and wildlife in the area to learn more about it; this is a particularly great option for kids! Use the time to help them understand environmental issues both where you are, and around the world.
- Look for companies recognised for their eco credentials: Anyone can make a vague claim on their website, but to be sure have a look at South African businesses which have won awards like the International Responsible Tourism Awards, the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, and Fair Trade Tourism accreditation to name a few. Also, all accommodation listings on lovetostay.co.za has eco-friendly practices in place to help minimize your holiday`s carbon footprint!
- Spread the wealth: Eco Tourism is also about the impact on the local population, making sure they benefit from economic gains. So while holidaying in an area; be sure to shop at locally owned businesses, tip your waiting staff well and handsomely reward the hotel cleaner – it’s probably the most direct interaction you can have with the local community.
There are many other things you can do to ensure your holiday in South Africa has a positive impact. Remember the important principles of informing yourself and looking for local, sustainable holiday options and you’ll be making a good start. Good luck and enjoy!
© All rights reserved. This post was submitted by guest author Ame to publish on lovetostay.co.za.
Make educated decisions before you visit, cuddle, walk, volunteer or shoot. Don`t be duped by places that are treating wildlife as a commodity for profit under the pretense of conservation! The Blood Lions film does an excellent job at showcasing some of the successes that have been achieved in the global movement to end predator breeding and canned lion hunting; thereby empowering us to turn our sadness into support of their compelling call to action. Visit www.bloodlions.org for the full story.
THE ISSUE WITH SHARK CAGE DIVING
Shark cage diving has become one of the top Tourist Attractions in South Africa, offering an opportunity to view sharks underwater at close range from the safety of a submerged cage attached to a boat. This ecotourism activity can help develop a better understanding of these ancient and protected fish, but there are some undeniable issues around the question, with a lot of research being done on the topics of chumming and change of shark behaviour patterns and the effect it has on the ecosystem.
So should I go shark cage diving, is it ethical? Why I Won`t Go Shark Cage Diving is a post by Andrew Evans of National Geographic Traveler where here explains why he finds the shark cage diving industry to be inauthentic and unsustainable, how it perpetuates myths, and why he considers it to be poor conservation.
” True nature lovers act in harmony with nature. They do not make their number one priority the commercial exploitation of natural assets which should be to the benefit of everyone.” – Reprobate , The Shark Cage Diving Industry: above board or submerged in controversy?
UNETHICAL ELEPHANT ENCOUNTERS
Dr. Louise De Waal from Green Girls in Africa makes a solid case for ethical elephant encounters in her article The Elephant in the Room. She is passionate about responsible tourism and conservation, and being a scientist at heart, she extensively examined the facts of the industry in South Africa which has led her to the following conclusion:
Any activity that
- Allows the animal(s) to be touched
- Trains animals to perform, or
- forces animals into unnatural behavioursm such as riding or even walking with people
should not only be avoided, but banned forever.
Read the full blog post to educate and inform yourself on the issues, spread the word and raise awareness in your circle and community. Let`s work together towards protecting, respecting and loving our wildlife on all levels.