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Caring for the Cape - How to be a responsible tourist in Cape Town!

6 min read
· Posted on
November 20, 2020
by Lucie Hett

What is responsible tourism?

Responsible tourism is about ensuring we only leave a positive impact on the destinations around the world that we choose to travel to.  The concept focuses on minimizing the negative impact tourism can have on local economies, people and environments, whilst encouraging a movement towards sustainability and the improvement of places for people to visit, and live.

ResponsibleTourismLogo - Cape Town

Responsible tourism is characterised by travel which:

  • Supports the local economy of a country and helps generate greater income for local people.
  • Directly supports and helps improve the well being and daily lives of local communities.
  • Acknowledges that local communities need to be involved in decisions that affect them.
  • Helps disadvantaged communities have better access to healthcare and education facilities.
  • Facilitates the exchange of skills between visiting travellers and local people - which can improve their opportunities.
  • Positively contributes to the conservation of local environments and natural heritage sites.
  • Provides a more enriching and rewarding experience for tourists through encouraging a greater understanding of local cultural as well as social and environmental issues.
  • Encourages respect between travellers and local communities, whilst building pride and confidence in the hosting country.

How to be a responsible tourist when visiting Cape Town?

We really value the power of voluntarism in South Africa and believe that in creating opportunities for yourself through participating in our programme, you will also be creating opportunities for the people of Cape Town.  As an intern or volunteer you will not only be contributing to the economy through tourism, but you will be volunteering your skills, knowledge and time to organisations which will benefit hugely from your help.  Responsible travel is the heart of our programmes and we want to aid you to make educated and responsible decisions which will only impact the country in a positive way.

Bridging Gaps Photography

Here are some tips on how to be a responsible tourist during your time in Cape Town:

  • Prepare yourself properly by researching everything there is to know about Cape Town. Read up about South Africa’s turbulent history and try to understand why the country still faces social and economic problems today.  Check out our guide on Why International Interns Choose Cape Town and look through our other blogs which cover useful topics such as the tipping culture in Cape Town.  By educating yourself about South Africa, you will learn about the country’s culture and customs and how you can be respectful towards them during your trip.

Please see our blog posts below:

How much does "Thank you" cost in Cape Town?

Is Cape Town really a dangerous place to visit?

What are the best ways to travel in and around Cape Town?

FAQ's about visiting Cape Town

6 Golden rules of visiting Cape Town!

  • Be aware of and respect local cultural practices. Cape Town has a colourful and vibrant cultural heritage which you will experience on a daily basis when spending time in the city.  Part of being a responsible tourist is embracing cultural differences and always making an effort to ensure you show respect to local people’s customs and traditions; observe local dress codes and wear appropriate clothing, always ask before taking pictures of people and familiarise yourself with the local tipping culture.
  • Help preserve and protect local environments. Cape Town is currently facing a serious water crisis due to low rainfall in the winter months.  Water restrictions have been issued so it is important to make yourself aware of these and conserve water as much as possible during your time in the country.  Cape Town is also known for its incredible natural beauty and it is home to a very delicate eco-system.  When exploring the beautiful nature reserves and hiking trails dotted all over the Western Cape, make sure to respect the environment by not picking flowers, sticking to marked paths, never dropping litter and abiding by rules such as no fires.
  • Support local communities wherever possible. The people of Cape Town are incredibly talented and you will experience beautifully unique paintings, wooden carvings, wire structures and much more, on nearly every street corner you explore.  By purchasing souvenirs from local artists, you will be positively contributing to the local economy and directly supporting local communities.
  • Become acquainted with the local people. When taking public transport, exploring shops or eating out, make an effort to chat to the people serving you.  Everyone in the Mother City has a story to tell and will be delighted to tell it to you with a huge smile on their face, regardless of the challenges it may entail.  Whether it is a 5-minute conversation with a taxi driver, or daily debates with new work colleagues, the people of this city will change your assumptions and encourage you to embrace a wider horizon.

Being a responsible tourist is about preparation, awareness and respect and we are sure that if you put these into practice during your time in Cape Town, your experience will be much more rewarding, enriching and unique!

Bridging Gaps Photography

What should you do next?

Easy - there's only one thing for it - download this free 37-page PDF guide we wrote just for you. It'll give you an overview of everything you need to know and do to have a rewarding and unforgettable learning experience abroad.

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