South Africa’s new National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (NMSRT) was launched on 12 September 2011 at the Knysna Featherbed Nature Reserve by the national tourism minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
The NMSRT is a standard to accredit certification programmes, which is sometimes referred to as “certifying the certifier”. It is not a standard for individual tourism businesses, nor a new form of certification or grading.
From next year (2012), the National Department of Tourism (NDT) in partnership with the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) will offer tourism certification programmes the option to become nationally accredited. The goal is to quality-assure the certification services provided to the South African tourism industry and enhance the integrity of South Africa as a tourist destination by ensuring that there is one national definition of Responsible Tourism and that certificates issued to tourism businesses are credible.
The NMSRT went through the rigorous processes of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) in order for it to become a South African National Standard. The draft was then subsequently published (gazetted) as a South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANMSRT) on 28 March 2011. Officially, it the standard is SANS 1162:2011.
The NMSRT consists of 41 criteria, covering the core aspects of sustainability and divided into four categories, viz: sustainable operations and management, economic, environmental, and social and cultural.