Home > Destinations, Governance, Responsible Tourism News > South Africa implements a Responsible Tourism Standard

South Africa implements a Responsible Tourism Standard

It’s not an award, and nor is it a voluntary code of practice.  It’s not even another national certification scheme.  What it is is a national standard for responsible tourism, and a milestone in responsible tourism linked to governance and policy-making.

South Africa’s recently launched National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism is legally enforceable in that businesses claiming to practise responsible tourism will need to prove that their activities comply with its criteria.  This includes certification and accreditation by the South African National Accreditation System.

The standard

“establishes specific minimum requirements for the performance of organizations in the tourism sector in relation to sustainability, and enables an organization to formulate a policy and objectives, which take into account legal requirements and information pertaining to the impact of these requirements.”


“the minimum criteria apply to those aspects that can be controlled by the organization or on which it can exercise influence.”

South Africa has a relatively long history in responsible tourism terms.  It was one of the first countries to include “responsible tourism” in its national tourism policy, in its 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) followed this up in 2002 by producing the National Responsible Tourism Guidelines which emphasised the need to address the triple bottom line of sustainable development (economic, environmental, and social sustainability).

The addition of the National Minimal Standard sees the government of South Africa take further responsibility to promote the positive as well as negate the potentially negative outcomes of tourism.  It is hoped that such policies will feed through to further raise awareness amongst both tourists and tourism organisations of the value of conserving South Africa’s natural and cultural resources so the viability of its tourism industry is ensured for years to come.

News sourced via Harold Goodwin’s blog.

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