Responsible Tourism National Minimum Standards
Did you know?
South Africa is the only country to have implemented Fair Trade principles in the tourism sector.
If a South African hotel, B+B or adventure business claims to be a sustainable or responsible tourism operation, can you believe them?
To one business, being responsible might mean recycling and installing aerated showerheads. Another may prioritise paying staff members a fair wage and offering training and upliftment. A third could interpret responsible tourism as using more waterwise indigenous plants for landscaping and supporting local businesses.
So what eco-labels or responsible tourism accreditations can you believe? Surely they should all subscribe to the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economic responsibility?
Between 2002 and 2009, several prominent new responsible tourism ‘labels’or accreditation bodies emerged in South Africa, and Government saw there was a growing need to set minimum standards.
In September 2011, after 18 months of consultation with the stakeholders in the tourism industry, the South African Government launched its National Minimum Standard on Responsible Tourism.
Now, whether you stay at a destination certified by Fair Trade in Tourism, Heritage, GreenLine or Green Leaf, you’ll know that your money is helping to uplift and involve communities, helping to minimise environmental impact and is stimulating the local economy.
Although the standard is voluntary, they will make it easier to detect examples of false marketing or ‘greenwashing’. Tourism businesses can be asked whether and how they adhere to the ‘General Claims’.
The NMSRT, formalised through the South African Bureau of Standards, aligns this country’s responsible tourism offerings with international standards, specifically the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, first published in 2009.
Broadly speaking, here are some of the guidelines:
* Avoid waste and overconsumption
* Use local resources in a sustainable way
* Maintain and encourage natural, social, economic and cultural diversity
* Be sensitive to the host culture
* Involve the local community in planning and decision-making
* Assess the environmental, social and economic impacts before embarking on tourism developments
* Ensure that communities are involved in, and benefit from, tourism.