Responsible Tourism was defined in Cape Town in 2002 alongside the World Summit on Sustainable Development. This definition, the Cape Town Declaration is now widely accepted and has been adopted by the World Travel Market in 2007 for World Responsible Tourism Day.

Responsible Tourism is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable.

Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit, in that order. It is different from sustainable tourism in that it focuses on what people, businesses and governments do to maximise the positive economic, social and environmental impacts to tourism. It is about identifying the important issues locally and addressing those, transparently reporting progress towards using tourism for sustainable development.

The World Travel Market has adopted the Cape Town Declaration definition of Responsible Tourism for its World Responsible Tourism Day which encourages the industry to take responsibility for making tourism more sustainable and demonstrate their responsibility.

The Cape Town Declaration recognises that Responsible Tourism takes a variety of forms, it is characterised by travel and tourism which:

  • minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts;
  • generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry;
  • involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes;
  • makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
  • provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
  • provide access for people with disabilities and the disadvantaged;
  • is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.

Behaviour can be more or less responsible and what is responsible in a particular place depends upon environment and culture.

Responsible Tourism is not the same thing as sustainable tourism. Sustainability is the goal, a goal which can only be achieved by people taking responsibility, together with others, to achieve it. Responsible Tourism is about taking responsibility for making tourism sustainable, it is about what people do to address the many specific challenges we face.

Garry Wilson, Mainstream Product & Purchasing Director, for the TUI Group argues in an interview specially recorded, for Cape Town and Africa, that Responsible Tourism is now core, mainstream business for TUI.  Video

Resources on the web
The Responsible Tourism Partnership

Cape Town Declaration
Responsible Tourism News
The Responsible Tourism Partnership
WTM Responsible Tourism Blog
International Centre for Responsible Tourism
International Conferences on Responsible Tourism in Destinations|
Responsible Tourism Around the World

Responsible Tourism Facebook Forums
RTNews
Responsible Tourism Practitioners 3,900 members
Responsible Tourism South Africa
Irresponsible Tourism
  2,750 members

Responsible Tourism Awards
World Responsible Tourism Awards
Africa Responsible Tourism Awards
Irish Responsible Tourism Awards

Responsible Tourism at World Travel Market
WTM Africa
Arabian Travel Market
WTM Latin America
WTM London

Key publications
1987 Krippendorf J The Holiday Makers Butterworth Heinemann
2001 UNWTO Global Code of Ethics
2002 The Cape Town Declaration is the founding document of the Responsible Tourism Movement
2011 Goodwin H Taking Responsibility for Tourism Goodfellow

Harold Goodwin