Our version of Responsible Tourism

Our version of "responsible tourism" is not perfect but everyday we are improving!

Responsible Tourism

As a Responsible Tourist please take personal responsibility for all of your thoughts, words & actions!  Only when there is demand for responsible tourism will the tourism industry change!

Responsible Tourism is tourism ‘that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.

The 2002 Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations defines Responsible Tourism as follows:

Responsible Tourism is tourism which:
• minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts
• generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well being of host communities
• improves working conditions and access to the industry
• involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
• makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity
• provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
• provides access for physically challenged people
• is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence”

Responsible tourism is the fastest growing segment of the Tourism Industry.  Tourism is one of the largest industries worldwide.  Responsible tourism is sometimes in conflict with "mass tourism" over the use of resources, and it is the responsibility of stakeholders (Government, communities, investors, etc.) to decide how they want to resolve this dispute.

How Responsible Tourism differs from Sustainable Tourism

Responsible Tourism and Sustainable Tourism have an identical goal, that of sustainable development. The pillars of responsible tourism are therefore the same as those of sustainable tourism – environmental integrity, social justice and maximising local economic benefit. The major difference between the two is that, in responsible tourism, individuals, organisations and businesses are asked to take responsibility for their actions and the impacts of their actions. This shift in emphasis has taken place because not much progress has been made on realising sustainable tourism since the Earth Summit in Rio. This is partly because everyone has been expecting others to behave in a sustainable way!  The emphasis on responsibility in responsible tourism means that everyone involved in tourism – government, product owners and operators, transport operators, community services, NGO’s and CBO’s, tourists, local communities, industry associations – are responsible for achieving the goals of responsible tourism.

Sustainable Tourism

Tourism depends for its very existence on quality natural environments; it is equally dependent on human environments, resources and cultures.

For a long time tourism was seen as a 'soft' activity, different from other forms of development, inherently conservatory given that its sustainability relied on the preservation of the natural resource base and the local cultures.

However it is now recognized that tourism is an industry just like any other, an industry which has been characterized by rapid, short-term ventures which have often damaged those very assets upon which they depend.

"Tourism kills tourism" is acknowledged as a widespread phenomena.

Tourism is essentially an exploitative industry, and as such it is justified to regulate tourism as is done for any other polluting industry. Obvious is the need for the tourism industry to become sustainable.

There is so much hype floating around on "responsible tourism", "eco-tourism", "sustainable tourism", etc. it is difficult for most people to know what is real and what is not!  in part the answer lies in national & international certification programs which customers can trust & rely upon (which has not happened todate).  

Finally it comes down to the individual action of each tour operator, the desires & needs of the customers & stakeholders (which includes local host families, local communities, local Government, etc.).  The only way to clear the hype is that there MUST be lots of open communication on the internet and other forums which sifts out the rubbish and gets down as quickly as possible to provide what is needed & of mutual benefit to everyone including the Government, tour operators, communities, environment, etc. 

Karma Waters & Responsible Tourism

The Karma Waters & Tara Co. Ltd. model of Responsible Tourism is based on maximizing benefit for the local community & environment within limits of sustainable development by creating a Tourism Cooperative owned & operated by the local community having the exclusive rights to develop tourism.  

By strengthening the Cooperative all tourists & tour operators must only work with the Tourism Cooperative in a way that benefits the community and the environment.  Karma Waters seeking "mutual benefits" together with other Responsible Tourism Operators works with the Cooperative on a non-exclusive basis.  

Tourism Cooperatives must own as many local assets as possible (tourist accommodation, transport, etc.) maxamizing local employment & benefits. This requires new relationships to be formed between community, Government, tour operators, investors, etc.

On 26 May 2009 the United Nations awarded the status of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Cu Lao Cham - Hoi An  to a large area which includes all of Hoi An, the river inlet, the sea between Cu Lao Cham and the islands.  This is a significant upgrade in terms of protection & enforcement (previously it was a Marine Park) and requires that UNESCO sustainable development goals & objectives for this scientific site are met (which sadly to date they are NOT!).  

Karma Waters and parent Tara Co. Ltd. has been doing voluntary (i.e. using our business or the Owners personal funds) community development work in Bai Huong since 2008 and in 2010 entered into a Development Agreement with Quang Nam Province and Netherlands Development Organization SNV to further develop Responsible Tourism in Bai Huong and surrounding area.  In 2011 New Zealand Government NZAID funded NZ$25,000 to Tara for poverty reduction in Bai Huong. 

In 2010 Karma Waters (and our parent company Tara Co. Ltd.) was sadly recognized as the ONLY tour operator providing significant benefits to the local community and environment!  

See reference letter from SNV.