SA tourist attractions to get solar power

2015-04-14 09:11
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South Africans have been shortlisted for an African technology innovation prize. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – In an effort to improve South Africa as a destination, the Department of Tourism will be launching a pilot project to introduce solar power at tourism-related establishments.

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said that the retrofitting project will form part of a larger Tourism Incentive project that was launched earlier this year and will start by focusing on some identified establishments such as national parks, world heritage sites and botanical gardens.

He added that apart from the obvious Eskom-related reasons, introducing solar power will allow establishments to become cleaner and greener.

“People are wanting more than just pretty scenery these days. If tourism in South Africa is eco- and socially-friendly, people will be much more inclined to pick it as their destination of choice,” he explained.

He mentioned that Robben Island would be one of the first sites to benefit from the retrofitting pilot project.

“At the moment all Robben Island’s electricity is generated by diesel engine. So, what we’re going to try to do is to allow all the energy requirements to come from solar, which would involve installing both solar panels and battery packs that go along with it,” he said.

Hanekom added that in the longer term the department was looking at helping establishments, businesses and accommodation offerings to be more resource efficient on a broader level, which would include waste and water management. They were also hoping to assist in making more places more disability friendly.

“However, right now we are concentrating on the more immediate challenge, with the limited amount of money we have, namely energy,” he told Traveller24.

In the meantime the launch of the pilot project will allow the department to learn valuable lessons regarding the installation of solar power to hopefully roll it out further afield in coming years.

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