Responsible Tourism is a concept seldom applied to entire cities. But Cape Town is a departure from the norm. In 2009 it won an international award for being a best destination in terms of Responsible Tourism. There’s a way to go, but Cape Town has made massive strides.

Did you know?

Cape Town is the only city in the world to have aligned itself with responsible tourism practices.

In 2002, an historic international conference on sustainable tourism was held in Cape Town. It culminated in what is now referred to as the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism.

The enduring tagline from the conference was: 'Responsible Tourism creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.'

It was a philosophy that the city took to heart. In 2004, the City took the step of including the principles of Responsible Tourism in its Tourism Development Framework.

In September 2009, Cape Town adopted a Responsible Tourism Charter, involving the city itself and several hospitality and tourism organisations. It committed the signatories to work on seven initial issues.

Priorities include reducing water and energy use, decreasing waste generated, and upping contributions to the welfare and livelihoods of local people through skills development, buying local products and services, charitable giving and supporting local businesses. Organisations funded by the city are also required to adhere to Responsible Tourism principles.

Cape Town's efforts were rewarded when it was awarded Best Destination Category in the 2009 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards announced at the World Travel Market in London.

However the people involved in promoting Responsible Tourism Cape Town will be the first to admit that the city is a true responsible destination in progress. There’s still a long road ahead.

Cape Town Tourism encourages its visitors to get to know the city from the ground up through walking or cycling tours, exploring townships with local guides, buying local arts and crafts, and eating local foods.

It aims to be a city that is protected and showcased by this benign form of tourism, that allows Capetonians to benefit from and be part of tourism in the city.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

Cape Town has an international airport and is linked via bus and train routes.

Best time to visit

Most people visit in the sunny summertime (September to March). However, Cape Town also boasts about its green season from April to August. This is the traditional low season. Expect to be fussed over and get special accommodation and other discounts.

Around the area

The winelands are nearby, and over the mountains you'll find towns like Hermanus, famous for whale watching.

Get around

Public transport is one of the responsible tourism pillars. Cape Town is lucky enough to already have a fairly good rail network.

Length of stay

You could spend months in Cape Town and not fully explore all of its attractions, but you can fit a fair amount in over five days or so.

What to pack

In summer, don't forget your beach gear.

Best buys

Head to Long Street for excellent books, restaurants and night life. Look for African curio bargains at nearby Greenmarket Square.