Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and responsible tourism both aspire to contribute to sustainable development. EIA is the process of identifying, assessing and managing the potential impacts of new developments and is legally mandated in most countries of the world. Tourism developments are subject to EIA under South African legislation, which requires consideration of the full range of sustainable development objectives. This paper highlights the parallels found in the discourses of EIA and responsible tourism, identified through a focused literature review, and develops a framework comprising five characteristics that EIA should embody to maximize its contribution to responsible tourism. It tests the framework by evaluating three EIAs conducted in the Kruger National Park since 2011, when South African National Parks (SANParks) formally committed to responsible tourism. The evaluation process confirmed the utility of the framework and highlighted areas in which responsible tourism principles could be more explicitly reflected in SANParks EIAs.