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Ecotourism Tourism in natural environments to observe wildlife, often that are under protection or contain endangered species. It also refers to the practise oftravelling to areas in order to support conservation efforts and uplift the lives of local people.

The attractions of touring south africa

South Africa is a beautiful country that boasts great diversity in its flora and fauna. There are many interesting cultural, historical and environmental placethat people from South Africa and other countries want to visit.

From what you learned from the different ecosystems, you can see that South Africa has a range of systems from desert, wetland, mountains, sea and our ownunique Fynbos biome.

South Africa encompasses about 1,200,000 km 2 and has about 10% of all plant species on Earth. It is the third most biodiverse country in the world, and together with seventeen other countries, isconsidered mega diverse which means those countries contain 70% of the planet's biodiversity. South Africa's unique geography allows the country to supportsuch a diverse population of plants and animals. This makes South Africa an interesting travel destination to many.

Benefits to visitors, locals and the environment

Eco-tourism is a mutually beneficial practice for visitors, locals and the environment.

Eco-tourism has the potential to alleviate poverty in South Africa through bringing money into the economy and creating jobs for locals, while at the sametime turning our great biodiversity and natural resources into a national asset that will be nurtured, protected and grown. Tourism is the fastest growing partof the South African economy. In fact, tourism generates more money in South Africa than gold mining.

Ethical issues

While tourism has great economic potential and gives people access to unique places and cultures, it can have a negative impact. Sensitive ecosystems suchas wetlands and coasts need to be protected so that the balance of organisms can be maintained. Too many visitors and visitors who are not informed abouttheir impact on the environment can have a harmful effect. In the same way tourists need to be sensitive to the cultures and people that they visit.

To protect the plants and animals in the unique ecosystems of South Africa, many areas have been declared National Parks and have strict rules about how tobehave. You can visit the South African National Parks website to learn more about them: www.sanparks.org

In the same way, places that are historically or culturally important have been declared national heritage sites that are protected and maintained. SouthAfrica is also proud to have eight UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) sites:


• Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs (1999)

• Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (2003)

• Robben Island (1999)

• Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (2007)


• UKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park (2000)


• Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (2004)

• Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (1999)

• Vredefort Dome (2005)

You can find out more about them here: http://www.sa-venues.com/unesco_world_heritage_sites.htm

How to be a responsible ecotourist

Many areas of South Africa are protected and to travel to these areas you need to respect the area and the people that you are visiting. These are a few tips:

  • Learn a little about the place you are visiting before you go to know the do’s and don’ts. For example, littering is not allowed in anyNational Park in South Africa.
  • South Africa is rich in cultural diversity, which means that people from different areas have different ways of doing things. Learn about the culture oflocal people so that you can make sure not to offend anyone by your behaviour.
  • When you are in a protected area, do not damage plants or animals or buildings.For example, writing graffiti on historical buildings or sites. Remember the saying “take only pictures, leave only footprints”.


This an interesting website where you can learn about being a responsible tourist

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula: life sciences grade 10. OpenStax CNX. Apr 11, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11410/1.3
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