Tourism Product Owners Deliberate On Greening and Resource | South Africa

South Africa

South Africa tourism

“South Africa leads the world in having a national policy for responsible tourism, and this should be celebrated and honoured.

” Mr Bekithemba Langalibalele, Director for Responsible Tourism at the National Department of Tourism said as the Greening and Resource Efficiency road shows got underway in Gauteng.

Emphasising the importance of sustainability in tourism and responsible tourism practices, speakers at the road show encouraged tourism product owners to begin using natural resources optimally and efficiently.

The road shows were held in Newtown and Kempton Park on the 26 and 27 October respectively, and form part of the country wide awareness campaign to educate tourism product owners on responsible tourism practices. To date, the road shows have also been hosted in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.

The platform was used to share progress on the development of Climate Change Action Plans and the Universal Access in Tourism programme; and to invite input from participants, who included business owners in accommodation establishments, bars and restaurants and tour operators.

“There is a growing and more conscious citizen of the world who is saying that I want to live in an establishment that is environmentally friendly and implements sustainability principles. The sustainability approach not only saves costs, but also adds competitive value to businesses as it can attract that kind of clientele,” Mr Langalibalele elaborated.

Fedhasa shared examples of best practices on how accommodation establishments can monitor and ultimately reduce or use energy more efficiently. Measures to reduce energy include using energy saving bulbs, heat pumps, and special shower heads that use less water.

The discussion on Universal Access in Tourism highlighted the link between universal access and responsible tourism. Participants were told that responsible tourism must also respond to the social needs of society and tourism establishments need to be made accessible to all people including people with disabilities, the elderly and families with young children.

Participants were informed of how this too made financial sense as their businesses would become more competitive by being inclusive and accommodating to every potential visitor.

ESKOM warned that the current and projected supply-demand gap showed an electricity shortage in South Africa. There was an urgent need to accelerate energy efficiency projects to reduce the energy shortfall.

The message was that energy resource efficiency is the responsibility of every individual and it can begin with switching the lights and air-conditioning off in unoccupied rooms. Tourism business owners who complied with energy saving measures were encouraged to apply for rebates from ESKOM.

An update on progress made towards the process to accredit agencies for the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (NMRST) was also presented at the road shows. The NMRST provide a common national criteria for tourism sustainability certification and can also be used as a baseline standard that any tourism business should aspire to reach.

The road shows also highlighted issues on the Green Economy, Waste Management in Tourism, Water Conservation and Demand Management in Tourism. Tourism establishments were advised to implement the philosophy of reducing, re-using and recycling

The road shows are a joint initiative between the National Departments of Tourism (NDT), Environmental Affairs (DEA), Water Affairs (DWA) and ESKOM.