The birth of responsible tourism dates back to the international summit on sustainable development in 2002 in Cape Town with all countries participating in that event. Cape Town summit’s declaration identifying definitions and purposes of responsible tourism was signed by all the participant members. International organization of tourism called the international tourism day in 2007 as “responsible tourism” and pursued the progressive aims of that program. Surprisingly, more than 10 years after the introduction of the term “responsible tourism” into tourism literature, it is yet unknown in developing countries.


Responsible tourism is a kind of tourism that can be applied for achieving the sustainable development. In responsible tourism negative social, economic, environmental effects are diminished and more economic benefits are obtained for locals; moreover it promotes the host society’s health status. In Cape Town declaration the purpose of this type of tourism is spelled out as creating a better place both foe locals as well as for tourists. Locals, tourism activists, governments, and people should take responsibility as sustainable tourism would be achieved by establishing responsible tourism. By signing the declaration of Cape Town Summits, participating states announced their commitment to responsible tourism. Some of the principles members agreed to are as follows:

  • Standing against environmental effects of tourism in order to achieve stability and tourism development in line with development of local economy and the management of tourism effects on local communities.
  • Acceptance of international ethical codes such as children’s and human rights by the governments and tourism activists.
  • Safeguarding cultural and biological diversity and preserving cultural and natural heritage based on the principles of sustainable tourism.
  • Respecting religious, philosophical and social beliefs of host communities.

Paving the way for more dialog and direct contact between local communities and tourists.


You might wonder, “why responsible tourism is important?”

Tourism industry is one of the greatest flourishing industries throughout the world and has direct relationship with people, nature and generally with our planet. If we adopt a traditional approach to promotion of tourism, it will have negative impacts on our lives.  Destroying jungles, beaches and pristine ecosystems because of the surge of ecotourists, and destruction of the ancient heritage would be the immediate side effect of tourism. Increasing air pollution, amassing garbage, water pollution, unwisely abundant constructions in tourism destinations, etc. are evident negative effects. Developing tourism industry is beneficial for both host society and  for tourists if sustainable, responsible tourism is promoted.

Twelve main aims of sustainable tourism proposed by international tourism organization and environment plan of the UN which were proposed in 2005 are as follows:

  • Economic stability: to assure stability and competition between destinations and tourism companies, in a way that in the long term enables them to reach profitability and development.
  • Local prosperity: to maximize the tourism’s share in economic growth of the destination; it includes the costs that visitor pays at the place.
  • Job quality: to increase the quality as well as quantity of local jobs created and supported by tourism; they should have equal payments, job conditions and be free from any racial, sexual discriminations.
  • Social equality: wide and fair distribution of economic, social benefits all over the host community to increase opportunities and make services accessible for the poor.
  • Visitors’ satisfaction: to provide a secure, satisfactory experience for visitors without any discrimination based on race, sex, or disability.
  • Local surveillance: to involve and reinforce local communities in planning and decision making about management and future tourism developments in the area.
  • Health of society: to maintain and improve the life quality of local communities, improve social structures, and access to the resources, facilities and supportive systems and avoiding any social destruction or exploitation.
  • Cultural richness: to respect and develop historical heritage, cultural genuineness, traditions and difference in host communities.
  • Physical integrity: to preserve and develop the quality of urban and rural scenes, and prevent physical destruction of the environment.
  • Biological diversity: to protect natural regions, ecosystems and wild life and minimize any damage to them.
  • Efficient use of resources: to minimize consumption of rare, non-renewable resources while providing touristic facilities and services.

Cleanness of the environment: to minimize the pollution of water, air and earth and garbage production by tourism companies and visitors.


Responsible tourism is committed to leaving the least effect on the environment and local culture; it also contributes to creating job opportunities and positive experience of sustainable development for locals, tourism companies and tourists. Some concrete results of responsible tourism can be enumerated as:

  • Reducing negative economic, environmental and social effects of tourism on the destination and local community
  • Creating more economic profit for locals
  • Enhancing health status of host community
  • Improving work conditions of locals
  • Participation of local people in making decisions about issues that are influential on their life style
  • Positive cooperation to protect natural and cultural heritage and biodiversity
  • Creating enjoyable experience for tourists by connecting them to locals to perceive cultural, social issues as well as local community
  • Providing accessibility for tourists with special needs( e.g. handicaps )
  • As local communities would be culturally vulnerable, creating respect between tourists and local people is essential in order to have pride and local trust.

Choosing responsible behavior concerning environment and culture of the host community.


Travelling acquaints you with countries, new cultures, and a new world that you have not seen before. You, as a tourist, may do something that unconsciously harms local culture or the ecosystem of region.

Here are some suggestions for sustainable and responsible travel and what not to do in responsible travelling:

  • Do some research about your destination before you set out. Read about the experiences of other travelers in abundant websites and social media that are available today. Research about the culture, common traditions and history of the destination. For instance, when you are travelling to Iran you should know that in Ramadan most restaurants are closed for lunch or on Ashura and Tasua all historical and tourism centers are closed.
  • If possible, use trains or buses for travelling between cities as damage to the environment caused by airplanes is much greater than other transportation vehicles. Use public transportation systems such as bus, subway, taxi or bicycle and don’t use call
  • Respect the environment and don’t try to choose souvenir from the natural environment. On sea shores, national parks, protected regions you may find some coral, plants, seeds such as pine or chestnut, but they are not souvenirs and we should not take them.
  • Don’t pick up anything in archeological sites even small broken pieces of clay.
  • Don’t leave your garbage in the environment and take them as much as possible to the city and put in trash can. Remember this saying in responsible tourism: “we leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing except photos with ourselves”.
  • Don’t waste water and energy. Turn off the lights when leaving the room and make sure the air conditioner and water taps are off.
  • Don’t buy stuff made of animal’s skin or fur.
  • Don’t buy souvenirs made of rare soil or rock of the region.
  • Don’t buy endangered plants or seeds.
  • Don’t buy food that is made of hunted animals.
  • Respect regional traditions by what you wear. Don’t show your wealth in poor regions and don’t wear jewelry or an expensive watch.
  • Don’t give money to street kids coming around you. Most of these children are managed by groups and helping them will result in the growth of that faulty cycle. Giving them food or talking to them can be more beneficial. If you want to help them do it through local communities which work for education and empowerment of these children.
  • To help producers and local economy in developing countries, buy products from local markets.
  • Social media development has made all of us amateur photographers, we are always thinking about a new topic for our Instagram page. Remember this golden rule: ask for permission to take photo of people! Remember that they are living their normal daily lives; they are not in a museum; asking for permission shows your good intentions and most of the time they agree.
  • Have meals in the same restaurants as the locals do. These are far from tourist centers and expensive neighborhoods of the city.

Respect religious rules in mosques and other religious centers. Wear normal Hijab of that place and remember that it is a holy place for locals. If men and women use separate entrances, follow it and don’t argue about this issue to people. In Iran it is necessary for women to wear Chador when entering religious places such as holy shrines.


Travel, Enjoy, and Respect Campaign
The “Travel, Enjoy, and Respect” campaign was introduced in 2017 by the World Tourism Organization aligned with the sustainable tourism. The aim of this campaign is developing the sustainable tourism.

The main message of this campaign is summarized by the former UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai: “whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host. You can see the change which you want in the world. You can be a messenger for a better future. Travel, enjoy, and respect”.

This campaign known as #TravelEnjoyRespect in the social media, is a sub-branch of responsible and sustainable tourism campaigns. Protecting the environment and preserving tangible as well as intangible cultural heritage are promoted in the sustainable tourism but the most significant parts are the adherence to traditions and respecting the local communities. This campaign started [its activity] in 2017 while mass tourism had become problematic. Among the consequences of the mass tourism are local’s dissatisfaction and even feeling hostile towards the tourists. The mass tourism influences on the citizens’ life quality and has aroused negative attitudes within local communities towards tourism. One of the purposes of this campaign is: the growth of tourism is not the enemy of local people. It should bring about economic growth along with creating job opportunities and enhancing resources in order to protect the environment and culture. Tourism should equally crate a rich experience for both the visitors and hosts; in addition to the necessity of having policies and sustainable methods it demands for the government’s, private sector’s, local communities’ and the tourists’ participation [in that]. These points are all discussed in the instructions published for the tourists who are the supporters of this campaign:

  • Respecting the host and our common heritage
  • Protecting our planet
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Be an informed traveler
  • Be a respectable traveler
  • Be a responsible traveler according to the World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism


Your Actions Count – Be a Responsible Traveler Campaign
Three organizations related to the United Nations- World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Office on drugs and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – have all joined together in this campaign to cooperatively fight against the trafficking by tourists.

“Your Actions Count: Be a Responsible Traveler” aims to raise awareness among tourists about the means of fighting against trafficking in order to be aware of the criminal consequences of their decisions while they are travelling.

Information about this campaign is available on social media by #travelnottraffic.

Instructions prepared for the tourists suggests the following approaches:

  • Before buying or using anything obtained from a strange tree, plant, or wild animals think about it, as it may result in the extinction or exploitation of the rare species.
  • Before departing for the journey search about the destination’s local foods to make sure that they are not prepared by illegal materials. Remember that it is customary in some countries to eat foods prepared from protected plants or animals, but you as an informed tourist should not consume them.
  • If you feel that in the hotel, restaurant or wherever you visited, a person is exploited for doing a task or is being harassed, inform the local officials. Your report can prevent sexual exploitation, forced or child labor. Stop child labor as much as possible by reporting it to the police.
  • Make sure that what you buy as souvenir is not stolen goods, not made of illegal trafficked products, and it is legal to take it out of the country. Always bear in mind that the history and heritage of the country that you have visited is respectable and never try to take historical valuable goods out of there.
  • Do not make a purchase from organized vendors that sell forbidden goods. Apparently the seller is working in a local market, but actually they are controlled by a band and your shop will aid their unethical goals (Such as buying old manuscripts, coins and antiquities which are sold on Friday markets).
  • Be familiar with drugs and narcotic drugs. Some big bands use travelers as prey while asking them to take such substances as medicines across the border. Drug trafficking is not only dangerous but is also illegal and there are punishments for carrying. Imprisonment, life sentence and execution are the punishments of carrying drugs in different countries and being tourist would not exonerate you. Many tourists have to stay in prison because they carried drugs or illegal narcotic medicines.


Make Holiday Greener Campaign
This campaign is designed by ABATA in partnership with Travel life for Accommodation. It tries to encourage hotels and residencies to take positive social environmental actions to enhance the stability of the destination.

# Make Holiday Greener

The commitments of this campaign are:

  • Say no to plastics
  • Stay in residences with Travel Life Logo (a certificate for green stable residences)
  • Reduce, re-use, recycling
  • Keeping Biodiversity
  • Eating and drinking local foodstuff
  • Buying local souvenirs
  • Respecting local customs and talking to the locals
  • Protecting children
  • Carbon offset
  • Public transportation
  • Turn off the extra lights
  • Stop dripping faucet
  • Advertise about this campaign


Friends International – Child Safe campaign
This campaign that won the Responsible Tourism Campaign Award in2016, fights against child exploitation in the form of creating fake orphanage, beggary and illegal child labor, and the worst case child sex tourism.

Child safe was founded in Cambodia and is active in south west of Asia, trying to stop any type of child exploitation. This campaign is active in the following fields: forming a social responsibility among tourists to make the red lines of this campaign known and reporting if any case is observed. Providing a list of trustable centers for tourists. They educates active members in the tourism industry in hotels, airways, restaurants, and taxi drivers, etc. in order to prevent unwanted exploitation of children. The following slogan are used by this campaign:

  • Children are not tourist attractions
  • Don’t create more orphans
  • Keeping families together

7 tips for travelers:
Tip 1 – THINK! Children are not tourist attractions – let’s not treat them like they are.
Tip 2 – THINK! Volunteering with children feels good but could be harmful – look for better ways to help them.
Tip 3 – THINK! Children pay a price for your generosity – don’t give to begging children.
Tip 4 – THINK! Professionals know best – call them if a child needs help.
Tip 5 – THINK! Sex with children is a crime – report child sex tourism.
Tip 6- THINK! Children should not be at work instead of school – report child labor.
Tip 7 – THINK! Protect children – be a ChildSafe traveler.


Care for Petra Campaign
Petra located in Jordan is one of the seven wonders of the new world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the subject of” Care for Petra Campaign”. Eleven governmental and nongovernmental organizations have cooperated with Tourism Authority of Jordan to design this campaign which aims to raise the tourists’ attitudes and behavior towards working children, animals, and the ancient monuments of Petra.  Child labor, preserving ancient heritage of Petra and caring about animals are the three main focal issues considered.

There are many children in Petra selling souvenirs and this stops them from attending school. Injured weak donkeys and horses are used for riding up and visiting the site; this not only annoys animals but also damages the site as well. Visitors are asked to avoid standing or climbing on the monuments and also no to buy pieces of rock or pieces of Petra illegally offered for sale in the site.


World Heritage Volunteers Campaign 2018
UNESCO launched in 2008 the campaign of World Heritage Volunteers in order to gather youths to preserve, protect and promote world heritage. In 2018 this campaign planned for almost 50 world heritage site in 28 countries around the world. To become a volunteer in this campaign a list of selected projects is provided and people can choose based on the time table. This projects are implemented since June to December 2018 by 44 organizations to help preserving natural cultural sites and raising the local communities awareness about their own heritage.

UNESCO world heritage, Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVC), and volunteers of European heritage have jointly defined this campaign. A list of activities of this campaign is available on the UNESCO website.


Visiting Monaco Campaign
(Green is the new Glam)

Tourism authority of Monaco has launched this campaign with the aim of making Monaco an environmentally aware and fascinating destination.  To achieve this they launched the plan of 50% cutting greenhouse gas emission by 2030 and achieving total carbon production omission by 2050.  The government of Monaco takes different measures to reach sustainable development to make Monaco a luxurious, fascinating sustainable destination. Financial grants for using renewable energy sources in local businesses, devising intelligent programs for monitoring and reducing energy consumption in hotels, and planting trees by the guests by the hotels are just a number of plans in Monaco. Bike stations, solar- powered and hybrid bus, charging stations for hybrid cars are other actions of the government of Monaco.