Conservation and Research
September 28, 2022

Regenerative Tourism: Rethinking Travel to make a Positive Impact on People and Planet

Regenerative Tourism: Rethinking Travel
Photo by Priority Species Monitor, Kayleigh Webber

With World Tourism Day 2022 having just occurred on 27 September 2022, we thought we'd take the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of tourism when it comes to Wildlife ACT and its work, specifically looking at regenerative tourism.

Tourism is a large contributor to the world’s economy, and is especially important to economic growth and job creation in developing economies. In South Africa for example, over 17% of all jobs in the country are a result of tourism and tourism-related industries.

During the first 20 years of the 21st century, the concept of “responsible tourism” dominated much of the talk in tourism circles, as people tried to find ways to lessen their impact while traveling, and endeavoured to choose “eco-tourism” destinations: The definition of responsible tourism starts of by stating decisions that it “minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts”.

Regenerative Tourism: Rethinking Travel
Photo by Priority Species Monitor, Kayleigh Webber

We at Wildlife ACT are heartened by the recent, and might we say, more frank discussion around the need to not only mitigate the impact of your travel choices, but to ensure that tourism becomes a positive contributor to the social and environmental issues facing us all. It is called regenerative tourism.

So with this year’s theme of ‘Rethinking Tourism’ in mind, Wildlife ACT would like to explain how we have been shaping regenerative tourism (even before it became a recent buzzword), and how by joining Wildlife ACT you can make a positive impact in the world:

A few things to keep in mind:

Voluntourism is fast becoming a popular phrase for those looking to dedicate both their time and funds towards something meaningful. This has however erupted with a growing number of companies and organisations claiming to offer genuine conservation tourism experiences that are doing more harm than good, especially within the wildlife conservation sector.

Caged Lion - Blood Lions
Image courtesy of Blood Lions

Questions to ask yourself:

Thorough research is essential when choosing to volunteer with wildlife.

Regenerative Tourism: Rethinking Travel
Photo by Chantelle Melzer

Make it Count:

Travel less, but when you do, travel longer. Our itineraries begin with a minimum stay of two weeks, with people joining us on an average of four weeks. We try to encourage longer stays by decreasing the pricing as the length of stay increases.

The primary difference between us and many volunteering organisations is that Wildlife ACT has always been a conservation organisation first and foremost, and is led by serious conservationists. It is unfortunate that there are volunteer organisations who become involved in conservation with the purpose of creating work to attract volunteers to join them. Wildlife ACT volunteers come and join alongside us, as we perform conservation work, in the field. There is a true opportunity to make a difference that also encompasses regenerative tourism.

Regenerative Tourism: Rethinking Travel
Photo by Chantelle Melzer

Wildlife ACT's Regenerative Tourism Policy:

Wildlife ACT understands that true conservation is the protection and preservation of wildlife in the wild, with the aim of ensuring that animals can contribute to the growth or maintenance of wild populations.

The essential data that our volunteers help gather and analyse has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of priority wildlife species, as well as supplying information to the local conservation authorities.

Read the full policy here.

Join us in performing real, meaningful conservation work. We need your help to keep our projects going! Apply to Volunteer with Endangered Species here.