Although several benefits can be obtained from implementing environmentally friendly management practices, the South African tourism industry has generally been slow to transform. The tourism industry places considerable pressure on the environment with high demands on resources such as food, water, and energy. It, furthermore, creates considerable amounts of waste to be disposed of, creating further pressure on the environment. With improved competitiveness and profitability, energy efficiency, and waste reduction, being potential benefits of implementing environmentally friendly practices it may seem peculiar that the South African tourism industry has not implemented more environmentally friendly practices.

This study, therefore, seeks to investigate which variables encourage the transformation of the South African tourism industry from traditional tourism to more socially and environmentally responsible tourism. As investigating the variables that encourage the transformation to socially and environmentally responsible tourism on a more general level would require much more time and resources, South Africa was chosen as a case study. South Africa was chosen as a case study as it is a developing country, where tourism is playing an important part in social and economic development, and the new Sustainable Development Goals specifically mention the potential of social and environmentally responsible tourism in achieving sustainable development.