Responsible travel in South Africa – top 10 tips
You enjoy travel, you want to come to South Africa, and you want to make a positive impact. How do you start?
- Choose a responsible tourism destination from www.fairtourismsa.org.za, www.heritagesa.co.za or www.greenleafecostandard.net. You may also want to look at recent winners of the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards on www.imveloawards.co.za.
- Where possible, use public transport. In Johannesburg, for example, check out the Gautrain, which is safe and speedy, and which will get you from the airport to Johannesburg. Cape Town also has a reasonably safe urban train system. If you’re travelling from Johannesburg to Cape Town or Durban, consider Premier Classe trains. There are also good buses linking major cities, like InterCape and Greyhound.
- Want to take back a memento? Flip it over and make sure it’s not made in China! Buy local. Even better, buy from the very crafter who made it.
- By all means bargain for that object in a market. But be fair. That small amount you might pay means a lot to the crafter, who may have worked on it for many days.
You stop in a remote place, and have a picnic. There is a rubbish bin. Quick quiz: do you drop your papers and cans here or take them back to the city? Answer: take it back, every time. Cities have better disposal facilities. In remote places, baboons and wind can scatter your litter across the landscape.
That small amount you might pay means a lot to the crafter, who may have worked on it for many days.
- Spend time with people. Learn about their lives. Share yours. From authentic encounters like this great memories are made.
- Don’t just snap pictures of people. Be respectful and ask them first. Nine times out of 10, they’ll grin and say yes. South Africans mostly love to be photographed. Again, point #6 applies.
- Switch off something. Don’t swan out of your hotel room leaving every light on like a crystal palace.
- Be aware that South Africa is a water-poor country and don’t waste.
- How often haven’t you seen that sign in the bathroom that says if you don’t want your towel washed, hang it up. If you want it washed, drop it on the floor. And yet, you find them changing your carefully hung up towel. Complain to management! They’re being hypocrites if they don’t stick to what they say.