Cape Town’s responsible tourism priorities

The City of Cape Town and the local tourism industry worked together to develop a responsible tourism plan for Cape Town that focuses on local needs – our people, our environment, our resources, our culture and heritage, and our economy.

At first, seven priority areas were identified as a starting point for Cape Town, and an eighth priority was added later. These priorities are grouped under the three pillars of sustainability –economic, environmental and social.

cape town responsible tourism priorities

Economic priorities


Buying responsibly

A tourism organisation buys responsibly when the products and services that it buys minimizes their negative impacts and maximizes their positive impacts on human health and well-being, natural environments, communities, local culture and the local economy. A tourism organisation also buys responsibly when it buys goods and services from businesses owned by local people who were historically advantaged.

Read stories about responsible buying.

Supporting enterprise development

A tourism organization can encourage and support fledgling businesses through mentoring and coaching.

Read stories about providing enterprise development support. 

Environmental priorities


Conserving water

A tourism organisation can save water by measuring how much water it uses, setting targets for water usage and taking action to both reduce water usage and reuse wastewater.

Read stories about water conservation. 

Using energy efficiently

A tourism organisation can use energy efficiently by measuring how much energy it uses, setting targets for energy usage and taking action to both reduce energy usage. Electricity from the grid, wood, coal, gas and motor fuels like petrol and diesel are energy sources whose use tourism organisations should aim to reduce. Tourism organisations can also look to reduce the percentage of energy used that is created from fossil fuels by making use of renewable energy instead.

Read stories about efficient energy use. 

Reducing and managing waste

A responsible tourism organisation will have a waste management plan with goals for reducing, re-using and recycling waste, and guidelines on how to dispose of waste so that it does not harm either human health or the environment.

Read stories about responsible waste management. 

Social priorities


Developing skills

A tourism organisation can improve its employees’ skills by offering on-the-job skills training, capacity building, and mentoring.

Read stories about skills development in tourism. 

Building communities

A responsible tourism organisation supports social and community development projects, causes and charities. The support the tourism organization provides is decided on through discussions with community members, in which a plan of action is developed.

Read stories about community building. 

Universal access

Universal access is one of Cape Town’s eight responsible tourism priorities. A responsible tourism organisation will integrate the principles of universal accessibility into their services, facilities and products so that they will allow any person, regardless of any functional limitation they may have, to enjoy the tourism product confidently, independently and with dignity.

Read stories about universal access.