Travel SA

Being a responsible Traveller

Responsible travel is a new way of enjoying the many sights, experiences and memories of the destination you have chosen.  It ensures that visitors and local communities alike share the benefits of tourism and travel equally, and it promotes greater understanding of and appreciation for fair and equitable business practice.

Responsible travel is about putting back into travel what you get from it, and here are a few considerations that you could make when next you travel.

  • Ask to see your tour operator's responsible travel policy
  • Ask to see the environmental policy of the accommodation establishment that you have selected ? don?t be fooled by vague and unsubstantiated claims
  • Help the local economy by buying local produce in preference to imported goods
  • Ask your tour operator to establish the extent to which local communities enjoy benefits from your economic spend during your stay at a location
  • If bargaining to buy an item, bear in mind that a small amount to you could be extremely important to the seller ? be realistic and fair
  • Realise that often the people in the country you are visiting have different time concepts, values and thought patterns from your own, this does not make them inferior, only different
  • Cultivate the habit of asking questions and discover the pleasure that you can enjoy by seeing a different way of life through others eyes
  • Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where convenient ? you'll meet local people and get to know the place far better ? always be safe and considerate
  • Use water sparingly ? it is precious in many countries and the local people may not have sufficient clean water ? challenge any wasteful practice at your hotel or lodge
  • Switch Something Off ? whenever you leave your room, switch unnecessary lights and equipment off and play your part in reducing greenhouse emissions
  • Don't discard litter when visiting out-of-the-way places and attractions, take it with you and dispose of it at your hotel or lodge.  Waste disposal is often a major problem at outlying attractions and sites and it leads to litter and unhealthy environments for locals
  • Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places. For example, ask permission before you photograph local people ? in some countries it can cause offence
  • Learn more about the cultural experiences that you are exposed to ? avoid ?sound-byte? tourism and encourage tour operators to provide more insight into the dances, songs and traditional experiences that they present to you
  • Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods, shells from beach traders, or ancient artefacts (which have probably been stolen). When visiting gift and curio shops, be aware of the source of the products on sale and if in doubt, don?t buy
  • Read up on the countries you plan to visit ? the welcome will be warmer if you take an interest and speak even a few words of the local language
  • When you get home drop your tour operator a note to let them know how you got on

Travelling South Africa with Heritage

Travel Advice and Assistance

South Africa occupies the southern tip of the African continent and it stretches from the Limpopo and Orange Rivers in the North and North-West to Cape Aghullus - the most southerly point on the African Continent. To the East, the coastline is brushed by the warm Indian Ocean and to the West, the powerful Atlantic Ocean provides a natural border.

The country covers over a million square kilometres ( over 400 thousand square miles), it has nine Provinces (States), 42 million people and eleven official languages. The Republic is bordered by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the North, by Mozambique to the North- East and it encompasses the small independent countries of Swaziland and Lesotho.

The country has a single time zone ? two hours ahead of GMT (one hour ahead of Central European Time in Winter) seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the USA.

Accommodation

South Africa has a good supply of internationally competitive accommodation establishments ranging from formal hotels and resorts, game and wildlife lodges and camps, guest and country houses and the informal home accommodation and B&B sectors. Most local authorities and municipalities have information offices where details on accommodation in their areas can be obtained.

Banks and Banking

Commercial banking takes place in a competitive environment in South Africa and visitors will find a bank in almost every town in the country. Banking hours are generally from 09h00 to 15h00 Mondays to Fridays and from 08h00 to 12h00 on Saturdays - depending on the policies of the various groups. Other than for a sophisticated and effective Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) network across the country, after-hours banking and banking on Sundays is not available.

Climate

Summer in South Africa occurs between October and March and the country offers one of the highest number of sun-filled days in the world. While generally mild, the South African climate ranges from 20 - 40 degree Celsius (68-104F) during summer to 0 - 15 degree Celsius (32-59F) in Winter.

Credit Cards

Most major international credit cards are accepted at businesses and accommodation establishments in South Africa. VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are the most recognized cards. Petrol cannot be purchased with Credit Cards.

Currency

The South African monetary unit is the Rand (R) which equates to 100 cents (C). Banknotes are issued in denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 and coinage consists of R5, R2, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c denominations.

Dialling Codes

The international prefix for South Africa is +27 and the following area codes may be of some use:

Cape Town

021

Johannesburg

011

Durban

031

Pretoria

012

Port Elizabeth

041

Pietersburg

015

East London

0431

Nelspruit

013

Kimberley

0531

Bloemfontein

051

Electrical Supply

The standard power source in South Africa is 200/230 volts AC. Should you make use of electrical equipment during your visit it is advisable to purchase an adapter compatible with your plugs and connectors on arrival. Adapters for international plugs are available in most rated hotels.

Environmental Rating

South Africa does not have an official environmental rating system for the tourism or hospitality industry at this time.  While a national standard for responsible tourism is currently under development, it has not yet been implemented, leaving the private sector to meet demand in this regard.

The Heritage Programme is currently South Africa's leading tourism and business-based environmental certification programme.  Others in the industry include Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) while there are some that operate on a less formal basis.  Visitors are urged to determine the environmental rating of their accommodation providers at time of booking.

Foreign Currency

While credit cards or travellers cheques are always recommended travelling currencies, US Dollars, UK Pounds, DM, FF and other international notes are accepted at many of the larger hotels as payment. There are currency exchange controls in place and visitors are advised to obtain Reserve Bank clearance should they wish to leave the country with more than R 500.00 in cash.

Gratuities and tipping

Tipping for good service is common practice in South Africa and 10% of the bill or final charge is a common standard to apply. However, certain restaurants practice inclusive gratuity policies and you are advised to check the details on restaurant bills carefully before tipping. Tipping should only be considered based on the service received or your satisfaction of the service provided.

Hotel classification/Grading

South Africa has a number of hotel classification systems including the AA Rating and other private, market driven systems.  However, there is only one official hotel classification system and that is operated by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA).

Only accommodation establishments that have been graded by the TGCSA may display or use the internationally recognised Star insignia (1 - 5 Stars).  Should you have any complaints regarding any graded establishment, you are urged to notify the TGCSA by visiting their website at http://www.tourismgrading.co.za.

Private rating systems are also available in South Africa, the most recognised of which is the AA Travel Rating System.  Hotels and accommodation establishments are able to display multiple gradings from competing organisations.

Malaria and Immunization

Visitors travelling to South Africa from countries or areas affected with yellow fever are required to produce a vaccination certificate on entering the country, but other than for this no immunization or vaccinations are required by visitors.

Certain areas of South Africa are prone to malignant Malaria strains and travellers to areas in high risk areas are advised to take precautions before entering such areas. The north-eastern lowveld of Mpumalanga, Zululand and associated areas along the Eastern side of the country are regarded as risk areas. Pharmacies and local health authorities can be approached for additional information and for prophylactics.

Medical Care

Although medical services and facilities are readily available, visitors to South Africa are advised to secure medical cover or medical insurance before arrival in South Africa. While state hospitals and clinics can provide emergency assistance for those without insurance cover, facilities in outlying areas are sometimes limited. The country has airborne medical evacuation services, ambulances and emergency medical assistance of international standard in most cases and the network of private hospitals provide an alternative for those with medical cover.

Should prescription medicines be required, these can be obtained from most pharmacies or through a doctor should a prescription be required.

Safety and Security

While our country offers some of the most breathtaking experiences and unmatched beauty in the world, we are subject to the same crime and safety concerns as other developed and developing destinations. Drawing attention to oneself by carrying large sums of money, cameras and video equipment and the unnecessary display of jewellery or other valuables will invite trouble and visitors are urged to be aware. Travelling on deserted roads at night should be avoided and if on self-drive travels, advice and recommendations should always be obtained from hotels, police stations or tourist information offices before starting your journey.

In the unfortunate event of an emergency, the South African Police Service have special Tourism Assistance Units in Johannesburg/Pretoria (082-653-3039), Durban (031-368-2207), Cape Town (021-418-2852) and Port Elizabeth (0471-2-6545). The 24 hour emergency number in South Africa is 10111.

Travellers Cheques

Travellers cheques in all the international currencies are gladly accepted by a growing number of retailers and accommodation establishments. However, in certain outlying areas or destinations away from the major centres, it is recommended that travellers cheques be cashed at commercial banks or bureau de change. Be warned however that transaction fees are generally higher at commercial banks.

Value added tax(VAT)

A standard 14% VAT is levied on most purchases in South Africa. Visitors to the country may reclaim their VAT on purchases exceeding R250.00 on departure with the exception of food, beverage or accommodation costs. VAT refunds are possible at all international airports and other ports of entry but have your receipts and goods at hand because you will be required to produce these as proof of expenditure when you submit your claim.

 

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