Cape Town - A delegation from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC) did a site inspection at Hotel Verde in Cape Town’s airport precinct on Thursday.
“Fortunately, it is possible to build a tourism economy that is both responsible and inclusive,” said Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom during the visit.
“Working with institutions like the UNWTO, the UN's specialised agency for tourism, and the WTTC, the global industry association for travel and tourism, we must ensure that tourism growth is compatible and supportive of the global Sustainable Development Goals that we hope to adopt in September, and the global post-2020 climate change pact that we hope will be agreed to in December this year.”
UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr Taleb Rifai, and president and CEO of WTTC, David Scowsill, are on a 4-day visit to South Africa to deliberate with government and public sector stakeholders around the topics of responsible and sustainable tourism growth.
Hotel Verde made headlines as South Africa’s greenest hotel when the establishment was awarded the 2014 Imvelo Award for Best Overall Environmental Management system.
It is the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing. Hotel Verde is also the first hotel in Africa to achieve the Platinum LEED certification level, as assigned by the United States Green Building Council.
The hotel also drew global attention in the same year with a World Responsible Tourism accolade by the World Travel Market in London, for the Best City Hotel in the world.
Spearheading the growing movement in the country towards responsible tourism that reduces its carbon footprint, Hotel Verde has implemented a range of systems that save water and energy, as well as reducing waste.
“We commend Hotel Verde for the foresight of their innovations to go green, and encourage other tourism product owners to follow suit in order to capture the growing market for responsible tourism,” said Hanekom.
More and more international visitors are keen to offset the carbon footprint of their long flights by participating in carbon neutral activities while on holiday.
The minister declared that the drive from his department to bring green tourism into the mainstream would continue, in alignment with the National Tourism Sector Strategy. This document lays the foundation for tourism related businesses to focus on the triple bottom line of economic growth, ecological sustainability and social responsibility.
Topics on the agenda at Department of Tourism include: implementing and promoting minimum standards for responsible tourism, development of universal access standards, develop training programmes and funding mechanisms, specifically aimed at green issues and products, and facilitate the implementation of environmentally responsible practices within the tourism transport sector.
In conclusion Rifai commented: "I am very impressed by Hotel Verde and even though their environmental impact may be considered very small on a global scale, the fact that they are able to inspire their staff’s behaviours and spirit, in terms of being a leader in responsible tourism, make them stand out above the rest.
"Coupled this with the fact that they have proven on the triple bottom line, that going green can be economically, viable, profitable and sustainable, makes Hotel Verde an inspiration for the tourism sector and the Africa continent."