In  South Africa,  more than half of the population lives below the established international scale, which has turned its image around and has proven to be a win-win situation for people in some parts of the country. Ecotourism  is the idea of ​​bringing tourism to a country without affecting the natural economy of a nation by promoting and supporting its biodiversity. Instead of foreign parties entering an African nation to hunt big game, the idea of ​​a “photographic safari” is promoted to attract a more “green” clientele. [1]This, among other things, allows a nation to tour without diminishing its ecological and natural resources while at the same time presenting a more pleasing image to the rest of the world. Ecotourism can help conserve biodiversity and reduce poverty in South Africa through the creation of local jobs. This is most likely to happen with proper local and regional management and planning.

Ecotourism has the potential to reduce poverty in South Africa by bringing money into the economy and creating jobs. The difference between ecotourism and  sustainable tourism  is that in ecotourism, the cultural legacies of the specific area are respected and preserved. In addition, in ecotourism, local populations living in and around the destination are included in the planning, implementation and maintenance of the ecotourism park (Guiterrez, 2006). Through ecotourism, local people living in poverty can have a say in how they would like to develop the park that will protect the land in which they live. It has the potential to help alleviate the poverty of the inhabitants of the areas the parks are built.

Current situation 

It is unclear whether there is a regulation of the term ”  ecotourism  ” as well as what a foundation / association / company must do to fall into the “eco-trip” category. However, there is a non-profit association that represents the private sector of “the incoming tourism industry in  South Africa  ” (which is a large group) called the  South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) ., they are “dedicated to providing and maintaining the highest possible standards in the tourism industry in South Africa.” (SATSA, 2007) SATSA focuses on the responsibility, integrity and quality control of tourism industry in South Africa as well as the companies and associations to which they are linked. In addition to SATSA, the website, in partnership with The Times, World Travel Market and Geographical Magazine, has created  responsible tourism awards . The objective of this award is to “recognize individuals, businesses and organizations in the travel industry who are significantly engaged in the culture and economy of local communities and make a positive contribution to the conservation of the biodiversity”. (, 2001)

A foundation that has won numerous awards in the name of ecotourism and travel is  Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA)(CCA, 2002), which is a privately funded organization and is the “leading African safari society” operating in five African countries, one of its most popular destinations being South Africa. (CCA, 2002) They promote land restoration and encourage biodiversity. Conservation Corporation Africa not only brings economic benefits to the countries in which they operate, but also educates local communities by building and improving schools and classrooms, and has funded a 24-hour clinic in Mduku, Africa. South. A six-bed prenatal facility allows pregnant women to stay nearby, and to spread awareness of HIV and AIDS, the foundation distributes approximately 200,000 condoms a year. [2]

For many communities, it is difficult to get clean water and they have to travel long distances to get it. It is often done by carrying “20 liters of water containers on the head” which leads to “spine, neck and other physical injuries, especially for children.” (BEST, 2001) So, for save time, energy and future injuries, CCAfrica has donated 1,200  “hippo rolls”which are rollers that “roll 90 liters of water along the ground”. (BEST, 2001) Conservation Corporation Africa strives not only to educate international travelers, but also to improve the lives of those who live in the communities and areas in which they operate. Conservation Corporation Africa is the ideal base for ecotourism; they promote travel to the region, educate travelers, promote restoration and, most importantly, provide a higher standard of living to the communities in which they are involved by creating jobs and using the local economy.

Another foundation that seems to lead a responsible eco-tourism in South Africa is  BAOBAB – Alternative Roots to Travelis a “UK-based eco-tourist specialist” on the short list of tour operators who won the Responsible Tourism Award (2004). (Baobab, 2007) The founders of Baobab know that travel and tourism can have a huge impact, especially on developing countries, but they also know that tourism can cause irreversible damage to the environment and local communities. Their goal is to provide a “life experience” to specific African destinations by practicing a form of sustainable tourism that does not have a negative impact on the environment or local communities; it benefits the economy and local people because it “offers alternative employment and income opportunities” while enjoying and observing nature. (Baobab, 2007) When traveling with Baobab, they avoid resorts that are made for tourists, but as an alternative introduce travelers to local people, to nature, and to culture so “people can learn from their cultures and traditions. (Baobab, 2007)

Economic benefits 

Ecotourism has the potential to reduce poverty in South Africa by injecting money into the economy and creating jobs. Tourism in South Africa is booming. This is the fastest growing part of the economy. With the growth of tourism, it is now possible to take advantage of ecotourism to ensure that people living in the regions visited benefit from economic growth. Instead of a simple tourism where the voices of local people are not heard, it is essential to use ecotourism by integrating local populations. The estimated amount of money coming to South Africa through tourism is R62 billion rand a year. Reinvesting a portion of ecotourism revenues directly into communities living near tourist destinations would be a good start to reducing poverty. theThe World Wildlife Fund  believes that responsibly owned parks can be an excellent “generator of jobs, income and overall economic livelihoods” (Wildlife, Protecting Communities to Protect the Planet, 2003). If local people are involved in the creation and maintenance of the park, there are great opportunities for employment and sources of income. There are jobs in the construction of the park structure and in the provision of tour guides of the land as well as many other possibilities

A specific area in South Africa, the  Eastern Cape  , has aligned its economic objectives with those of national governments and realized that tourism is a means to develop their regional economy and create jobs. According to Milazi (2003), “for most of the 75 cities in Eastern Cape, tourism is the only way to lift poverty out of economic growth and job creation.” They predict that with their new tourism plan, they will attract more than 100,000 visitors to their parks. This will bring in about R1 billion per year and create more than 5,000 jobs in this sector alone (Milazi, 2003). By employing local people and bringing money to the local economy, ecotourism is expected to reduce the poverty rate.

An internationally known park in South Africa is the well-established,  Kruger National Park. In 2002, this park welcomed more than one million visitors. The park employs approximately 60,000 people. Because each park employee in turn uses the goods and services of the surrounding area, the park as a whole supports between 300,000 and 500,000 people. Ecotourism and the inclusion of local employment have increased in recent years. In some companies, local job creation and the contribution to poverty reduction have become goals and criteria for success. Another step in the right direction is “a growing number of community-led and community-led tourism initiatives in which rural communities are capturing the bulk of the benefits. It is important that the money be used to help the poor living in areas where parks are created. The greater the power and involvement of local people in parks and tourism businesses in their region, the more likely they are to benefit economically. Improving the quality of roads, hospitals, schools and communication is another benefit for ecotourism residents. Most areas where ecotourism is developed are remote areas where people do not have access. When ecotourism is developed, roads, communication and schools must be visited and spent by travelers. According to Naughton-Treves et al. (2005), “Conservation can not solve poverty, but it can make a significant contribution to preventing and reducing poverty by maintaining ecosystem services and supporting livelihoods. Through the use of ecotourism,

Biodiversity and South Africa

South Africa is the seventh most biodiverse country in the world. The country covers about 480,000 square miles (1,200,000 km  2  ) and has about 10% of all plant species on Earth. [3]  South Africa and seventeen other countries are considered mega-diverse, which means that these countries contain 70% of the planet’s biodiversity. [4]  The unique geography of South Africa allows the country to support such a diverse population of plants and animals.

Importance of biodiversity

It is important to protect biodiversity in South Africa because people still depend on natural resources for food and treatment. Plants and flowers are widely used as traditional forms of medicine and treatment for common diseases. The Western Cape of South Africa has about 8,000 different types of flowering plants. [3]  Some of these plants are currently being researched for the treatment of HIV patients. [5]

Large mammals such as hyenas, lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants and giraffes also inhabit parts of South Africa. There are also millions of invertebrates that provide functions such as decomposition and pollination for life. A loss of biodiversity for wildlife would be very detrimental to the ecosystem and the human population as well. Residents along the country’s coast depend on fish as a substantial part of their diet.

Threats to biodiversity 

Forests in South Africa are under constant pressure because of population growth and economic reasons. Rural people depend on agriculture and grazing, both of which require a decent amount of space. Overgrazing can also cause soil degradation. Growing global demand for wood is another reason why native forests are disappearing. The timber industry is an important part of the local economy, but logging has many environmental consequences. Forest loss also means loss of habitat for wildlife. In fact, 90% of the wildlife in South Africa is in national parks and reserves. [6] This includes mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. In contrast, only 34% of plant life in the country is located in protected areas.