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Back 19 / 01 / 2017

Sustainable tourism: Why it matters

2017 is the UN’s official Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. It is an opportunity for all of us — tourists and tour operators alike — to think about how tourism can make the world a better place. At Africa Exclusive, we care deeply about sustainability, and so in this blog we wanted to explain why we think it is so important, not only in Africa, but for communities around the world.

First of all, many of the greatest experiences we have had in Africa, and want to share with you, are dependent on the natural world. We want to show you pristine deserts, savannah, and mountainous landscapes; enable you to paddle on unpolluted rivers and hike to immaculate waterfalls; and for you to see, firsthand, herds of wild elephant in Botswana, gorilla in the jungles of Rwanda, and packs of lion in Zambia. Protecting the biodiversity of these fragile ecosystems is vital for the health of our planet, and it also ensures that these natural wonders will be there for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

We know that natural resources — in particular clean water and power — are in limited supply, especially in Africa, and so it is our ethical responsibility to use them sparingly. We’re keen to support safari camps and lodges which have a light environmental footprint, such as the Siwandu Camp in Tanzania, which uses solar panels to heat the water in its showers; or the Kicheche Bush Camp in Kenya, which harvests rain water and reuses or recycles almost all of its solid waste. Many of our partners also play an educational role, teaching local communities — and school children in particular — how to minimise their environmental impact by reducing waste and using clean, renewable forms of energy.

Sustainable tourism is about communities: we are all mutually dependent, and the human dimension is just as important, if not more so, as protecting wildlife and wildernesses. Tourism has a vital role to play in human development — improving access to education and healthcare, alleviating poverty, and reducing inequality — which is why we encourage you to meet local people and support projects which help everyone move forward. Many of the lodges and camps we recommend, including the Khwai Tented Camp in Botswana, are run by local communities, and the profits they generated are invested into local projects. When you join us in Africa, you’ll not only take away extraordinary memories, but will also have contributed directly or indirectly to essential schools and healthcare facilities, improving sanitation, providing villages with power, and ensuring that hundreds of people have rewarding, sustainable livelihoods.

The UN also states that sustainable tourism has a vital role to play in peace and security, something we all benefit from. Tourism creates education and employment opportunities in some of the most economically deprived communities in the world. It gives people a sense of purpose, and a reason to look to — and invest in — the future. When we travel, we learn and we exchange ideas with those we meet. The alien becomes familiar, and the stranger becomes a friend.

In 2017, join with Africa Exclusive to understand, and experience, the benefits of sustainable tourism. Together, we can help the world move forwards.

Sustainable tourism in botswana
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