6 Iconic SA attractions to get solar power boost

2016-05-04 10:30 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - Six of South Africa's iconic tourism attractions will be equipped with solar powered energy sources in the coming financial year, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told parliament on Wednesday, 3 May, during the annual Tourism budget speech. 

Recognising the environmental and cost benefits of moving towards renewable energy, the Tourism Department says it is supporting major destinations to install renewable energy sources as part of the Tourism Incentive Program.

"Contractors have been appointed to install renewable energy at various pilot sites, including Robben Island Museum; the Skukuza and Lower Sabi rest camps in the Kruger National Park; and the Karoo Desert, the Hantam and the Free State National Botanical Gardens," Hanekom said.

Climate change and the greening of SA's various economies, including tourism, has also been outlined as a vital part of SA’s National Development plan.

South Africa has just signed the Paris Agreement, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal aimed at getting 195 countries to look at limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.

The recognition of the 1.5 degree target is of central importance to South Africa as an African and developing country that is highly vulnerable to climate change – the recent droughts significantly affecting both industry and consumer. 

Having already invested R32.8bn into transforming its energy sector, with a legacy of inefficient and ageing coal-fired power plants, solar power forms a vital part of the overall clean energy plan. 

Hanekom said that South Africa "already has excellent infrastructure and offerings for all categories of tourism, ranging from safaris to beaches, shopping, major events and wine tourism. And we offer exciting adventure tourism, like zip lining, hang gliding, shark cage diving and bungee jumping." 

But SA's tourism offerings should also "continue to meet global demand for socially responsible tourism products that conserve the environment and benefit surrounding communities", hence the move to solar power. 

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