How SA is becoming a global leader in eco-tourism

South Africa is prioritising the green economy as a sector for economic growth to hopefully verify the country as more than just a pleasant place to visit.

The South African government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% in 2020 and 42% by 2025.

“Investment into the green economy is also seen as key to helping the country achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The Western Cape specifically has adopted the "Green is Smart" roadmap with the aim of positioning the Western Cape as the green economic hub on the African continent,” says Annelize van der Merwe, Green Economy Investment and Finance Liason, Wesgro.

She also added that in order for this to be achieved, investment from the private sector is essential.  

It is needed for technological growth and solutions to existing challenges that would ultimately stimulate green growth. Thus far, South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer's programme has attracted more than R192bn of investment, with thousands of jobs having been created.

SA hubs - the green focal regions

The Western Cape is being pushed as the focal region for promoting the country as a green hub, primarily because Wesgro and GreenCape are both funded by the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town.

Currently, more than 70% of these manufacturing facilities are based in the Western Cape.  In addition, the Western Cape will also be host to the first greentech Special Economic Zone in South Africa with a focus on attracting investment into green tech manufacturing.

However, it is not only the Western Cape that’s contributing to SA’s green reputation… Uber recently partnered with Nissan and BMW for UberGREEN, giving their Johannesburg customers the option of having a ride in a 100% electric powered vehicle in effort of reducing carbon emissions. 

ALSO SEE: Uber SA goes green

Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom told parliament during his annual Tourism budget speech in May this year that project ‘Working for Tourism’, will be executed this year. The programme will comprise of 200 young people who will assist in retaining the blue flag status of the South African beaches and also keeping the environment clean and safe. 

He also added that the government is supporting SA’s key destinations with installing renewable energy sources as part of the Tourism Incentive Program. These destinations include the 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.

READ MORE: 6 Iconic SA attractions to get solar power boost

Likewise, Kimberley Airport in the Northern Cape became South Africa's second airport to operate on solar power after George Airport earlier this year. According to Airports Company South Africa News, The solar farm is located on 0.7 hectares of land within the airport precinct and uses an 11kV substation as it its main source of supply, which is also located on the airport's land.

Shortly thereafter, the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, publicised a solar plant at Upington International Airport in the Northern Cape last week, marking the third green energy airport in South Africa. 

Key developments in the Cape

Hotel Verde in Cape Town serves as a prime example of an independent pioneer in best eco-tourism practices. This hotel opened for business in 2013 and was built on the fundamental principles of 'green-only'. The hotel is 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).

ALSO SEE: Greening the Cape: 3 Exciting initiatives

Blue Rock Village, labelled ‘Africa’s first green village’ is in the process of expanding by adding the Santa Luzia Lifestyle Centre.  “The Santa Luzia Lifestyle centre is a vibrant hub of Cape life where sophistication and chic collide with history and tradition. Its universal appeal makes it one of Cape Town‘s foremost attractions for both locals and international visitors. The centre will be home to boutique shops, doctors’ centre, clinics, professional office space, and gastronomies” said Mr Reichmuth, director of Swisatec and owner of Blue Rock Village.

The Santa Luzia Village is located to the bottom left of the site map. This is the planned new addition to the green village:

Blue Rock Village Site Map

First Possible Impression of the Lifestyle Street

First Possible Impression of the Wellness & Sports

Furthermore, the communications office of Blue Rock Village delivered comment on the role of the Santa Luzia Lifestyle Centre in nurturing the tourism sector of SA, “In eco-tourism, conservation is key, what we enjoy now, we need to save it for more generations to come and that is key in our design philosophy. For example the Car Free concept allows one ring road to serve the village with all cars to be parked underground therefore minimising CO2 emissions and making available up 40% open space than the normal eco-estate.”

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