Cape Town - It's no secret that a move to responsible tourism and economic practices in the country is no longer optional.
With human populations growing, temperatures rising and our overall dependence on natural resources becoming more and more, there has never been a time to be more aware of our effect on the environment.
South Africa has an ironic advantage on sustainable tourism, in that tourism growth is behind that of first world countries with leading economies. In Africa, the hotel industry grew nearly 30% over the past year, and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.
With the high pressure to go green, this means that new developments will be able to lay foundations for green hotels from the ground up, instead of having to adopt existing infrastructure to slot in with green practices.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town serves as a prime example. This hotel opened in 2013, and was built on green-only principles. Within one year of existence, the hotel was already named a World leading establishment when became the very first hotel in the world to be awarded double platinum for Ledership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
More recently, in April, Minister Molewa signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement on behalf of the South African Government – an agreement that is universally regarded as a seminal point in the development of the international climate change regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Although this is not only relevant in the Western Cape, the agreement means that new sustainable tourism practices will be further prioritized in the country.
In many ways, SA has to potential to keep leading the world in terms of sustainable development and tourism.
Here are three ways in which tourism in SA, and specifically tourism in Cape Town, is greening up:
Cape Town International is monitoring its carbon footprint
Testing vehicle smoke emissions as well as monitoring air quality regularly are just some of the things Airports Company South Africa [Acsa] are incorporating at Cape Town International airport to help curb its carbon footprint.
According to News24, Acsa met with the portfolio committee on environmental affairs and development planning on Tuesday, 10 May, to discuss its environmental protection plan and air traffic operational improvements following an increase in arrivals, and says that strategies will be implemented to ensure that the areas surrounding the airport are protected from gases emitted by aircraft.
Green accommodation transformation
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape says it will aim more intensely to assist hospitality industries in greening their establishments going forward.
Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s briefing on Economic Opportunities spokesperson, Fernel Abrahams told Traveller24 at a green economies update briefing on Wednesday morning, 11 May, the department will launch a specific programme towards the second half of 2016, focused on raising awareness and engaging companies in sustainable tourism.
Abrahams says hospitality industries are aware of the green initiatives available, but have been slow in implementing radical change.
The Department’s programme will hence focus on helping establishments to engage in sustainable practices.
Robben Island will go solar
During his annual Tourism budget speech Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told that solar powered initiatives will be launches at 6 iconic SA attractions, in a bid to step off the grid.
Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town will be one of the destinations were this pilot programme is first introduces. Robben Island currently depends entirely on diesel generated electricity, but contractors have already been appointed to install renewable energy on the island, the minister said.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- 6 Iconic SA attractions to get solar power boost
- New hospitality data grading to raise the benchmark of SA's tourism offering
- Africa hotel industry grows nearly 30% in one year