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Responsible tourism in Cape Town, South Africa

Responsible tourism in Cape Town, South Africa

Responsible Tourism is tourism “that creates better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.”

In 2002, representatives from tourism sectors in twenty countries attended the CapeTown Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, at which a declaration on responsible tourism was agreed upon.

In 2009, the city of Cape Town adopted the Responsible Tourism (RT) Policy and Action Plan, which commits to adopting Responsible Tourism as an approach to destination management, to bring about positive economic, social, cultural, and environmental influences. It facilitates the city-wide adoption and implementation of responsible tourism actions and serves as a decision-making reference point for divisions within the city, as well as for external stakeholders.

In September 2011, the Climate Smart Cape Town campaign was launched. The campaign aims to highlight actions that Capetonians can take to reduce carbon emissions. The campaign recognizes that climate crisis is our joint responsibility. Real solutions can only come when addressed by everyone - from the public sector to business, from NGOs to civil society and academia. Climate Smart Cape Town brings the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engages the people of Cape Town in conversations about how to solve it. The campaign encourages citizens to discover the truth about climate change and take meaningful steps to bring about change. The Climate Smart Cape Town Campaign is action-oriented with a slogan calling on Capetonians to “Take Action.”

In addition, Cape Town tourism officials always ask that tourists be sensible and provide travel tips on being a responsible traveler with regard to Cape Town’s communities and environment.


One tourism stream that is steadily growing and contributing to the overall sustainability of tourism in Cape Town is voluntourism. This worldwide trend sees long-term travelers choosing to spend any length of holiday or gap year time in the service of a foreign community or project. Volunteers from across the globe come to Cape Town to assist in community projects that uplift people, animals, and plant life, and there are literally thousands of NGOs in and around Cape Town that can provide placements.

Cape Town was acknowledged by the Ethisphere Institute of New York as “One of ten cities in the world most likely to become centers of sustainability by 2020,” and Ethical Traveler listed Cape Town as one of the “Top Ten Ethical Destinations in the World 2010.” It was one of the first urban centers in the world to receive the coveted “Best Destination” Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in 2009.

Green Initiatives that are putting Cape Town on the map include:
The Cape Town Green Map is powered by Open Green Map, an interactive mapmaking tool that allows users to share green sites such as biodiversity hot spots, green spaces, sustainable living projects, alternative energy sites, recycling projects, and green attractions among others:

City Cycle Tours offers cycling tours operated by passionate, local guides, and storytellers. Suitable for both seasoned Cape Town travelers and first-timers, these eco-friendly tours promise to open your eyes to the beauty of the Mother City:

AWOL Tours offers hiking and cycling tours in Cape Town, which also allows for genuine and real interactions between locals and tourists:

Walk in Africa offers several walking tours around Cape Town including The Sex&Slaves In The City tour and the Walk to Freedom tour:

Traveling by train is affordable, fun, and can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. The most beautiful of Cape Town’s train routes must be the Southern Line Tourism Route. A rail trip from the central business district of Cape Town across the Peninsula to Simon’s Town, which takes about an hour and a quarter; the Southern Line meanders through varying urban landscapes before hitting the rugged False Bay coastline. Hop on and off at some of the Cape’s biggest attractions, while whale spotting from your train carriage - views of the mountain on one side and ocean on the other:

Use green road transport initiatives such as Green Cab. Green Cab has reduced its carbon footprint by converting the petrol component of its fleet to run on dual-fuel; and the diesel component on Biodiesel which achieves a saving of fifteen to twenty percent in carbon emissions: