Responsible Tourism in Africa | Sustainable Tourism in Africa

Acacia Safaris defines Responsible Tourism as “that form of travel that involves traveling to natural areas with the objectives of learning, studying or participating in activities that seek to minimize negative impacts to the environment; at the same time protecting and empowering the host communities socially and economically”.

According to IUCN 1996, Responsible Tourism is defined as environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed areas, to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of the local population.

Responsible Tourism Background in East Africa

Responsible Tourism is a new phenomenon in the world as is in Uganda – dating back to the 1990s. It involves such activities as Nature guided Walks, Bird Watching, Village/community Walks, forest walks, butterfly watching, sport fishing, mountaineering/hill-climbing, Gorilla tracking, Chimp tracking, game viewing, boat cruises, canoeing, caving, scenery viewing/nature photography, primate watching/walks, and any other aspects that relate to Natural, Cultural and Rural tourism. The Responsible Tourism destinations in Uganda include all the ten national parks, wildlife and game reserves, forest reserves, events/cultural centers, community wetlands, Theme parks, resorts, and important bird areas.

Current status and trends

With the development of activities like Gorilla tracking, Chimpanzee tracking, Birding, Forest / Nature Walks, cultural trails, etc; Uganda has taken significant steps in what scholars may regard as a shift from traditional tourism to responsible travel to ecologically sensitive areas.

The liveliest example of a Responsible Tourism initiative in Uganda is KAFRED (Kibale Association for Rural and Economic Development) – a Community Based Organization which is entirely managed and run by the local community.

It was initiated with the main theme of protecting Bigodi wetland (adjacent to Kibale Forest National Park) while advancing health, education, and economic growth in the wider local community. 100% of employees are from the community and the participatory planning of the organization includes members and representatives of homesteads neighboring the swamp.

The project has contributed to the conservation of the wetland and the park at large and raised the socio-economic standards of the people through setting up a tourist reception; construction of the wetland boardwalk; advancing conservation practices in the area’s primary schools including Bigodi, Busabura, Busiriba, Kiyoima, etc; training local guides, formation and supporting women groups like the Bigodi women’s groups, Enyange drama actors, etc. All this has improved the image of the area and created conservation awareness amongst the local people.

Responsible Tourism benefits in Uganda

  1. The benefits of Responsible Tourism are divided into three; i.e., environmental, economic, and socio-cultural benefits. The following represents the general benefits of Responsible Tourism to the communities and the host governments.
  2. Preserves the natural resource by undertaking environmentally friendly activities
  3. Employment opportunities for the local people working as guides, and staff in parks and other establishments adjacent to the resource
  4. Increased household income from the sale of handicrafts and other food items
  5. Enhances awareness, and improvement of the social infrastructure like schools, libraries, and health care Institutions through involving the local people in participatory planning programs and channeling tourism income to community projects
  6. Improvement in local community access hence reducing the feeling of solitude among the local people. There will be the development of pride, appreciation, understanding, and respect for each others’ culture, increasing the self-esteem of hosts and tourists, and the preservation of local traditions.

General Responsible Tourism Challenges world over

The following problems present obstacles to the development of Responsible Tourism in most destination countries across the globe

  • Difficulty in preserving the Responsible Tourism resources due to lack of local people’s awareness and in some cases, tourists
  • Inadequate and lack of skilled, interested, and understanding personnel (especially public officers) involved in Responsible Tourism activities and Responsible Tourism interpretative services hence the problem of difficulty in securing a budget for Responsible Tourism development
  • There are no clear norms and implementation guidelines for Responsible Tourism in national wildlife reserves in most countries and other areas of interest due to a significantly low number of ecotourists thus a few programs have been produced and most travel agencies are mindless of its operation
  • Government intervention has posed a problem as regards the control and management of national parks, wildlife and game reserves, and other resources, and/or how to include local communities in Responsible Tourism activities. For example; the damaging of Responsible Tourism resources in a bid to promote industrialization and urban development in most destination countries.

Acacia Safaris Concept of Responsible Tourism

Acacia Safaris defines Responsible Tourism as “that form of travel that involves traveling to natural areas with the objectives of learning, studying or participating in activities that seek to minimize negative impacts to the environment; at the same time protecting and empowering the host communities socially and economically”.

Acacia Safaris Mission

To foster a shift from the traditional tourism to current and future market trends by exploring specialty market niches that detail nature, adventure, culture, education, wilderness ethic, environment stewardship enlightenment, benefits plus responsibilities, and green reality (eco ethnic)

Acacia Safaris offers a travel experience that helps travelers come to a better understanding of the unique and natural environments around Uganda. We offer specialized tours to small groups and take you to ecolodges in Ugandan natural areas to see the unique environments and cultures of the people of Uganda with local guides that are trained to interpret the cultural and environmental resources.

We also focus on helping our travelers to develop better instincts on how to travel and how to properly contribute towards environmental conservation, cultural survival, and other important sustainable development issues in Uganda.

Responsible Tourism related activities in Uganda that we specialize in include forest /nature walks, village walks, birding, community/rural tourism, Eco Camping, game viewing, primate tracking (mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, and golden monkey), mountain climbing, hill hiking, cultural tourism, sightseeing, wildlife/nature photography, biking, white water rafting, bungee jumping, bush camping, etc.