Responsible Tourism

There are many definitions available of what sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, ecotourism is. Here are a few definitions to get you started.

Responsible Tourism

“Responsible tourism is any form of tourism that can be consumed in a more responsible way.”

Responsible tourism is very similar to sustainable tourism, but it has been adopted as a term used by tourism industry.

Responsible tourism is tourism which:

  • generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities
  • minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts
  • improves working conditions and access to the tourism industry
  • provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
  • involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods
  • makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage
  • provides access for physically challenged people
  • is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence

Cape Town Declaration, 2002


Ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism – all forms of tourism can become more sustainable but not all forms of tourism can be ecotourism.

“Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy, study and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features – both past and present), that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations”

(Ceballos-Lascurain, 1993).
(The official definition adopted by the IUCN in 1996)

Sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.

“Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices among them.“

World Tourism Organization, 2004


Sustainable and responsible tourism can be defined as:

“A form of tourism based on nature which tends to be ecologically, socio-culturally and economically sustainable, while providing opportunities for learning and assessment of the natural environment or its specific elements”

Weaver, 2001

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