Sustainable energy for World Tourism Day

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has unveiled “Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” as the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day, which takes place on September 27 annually.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opened his World Tourism Day announcement message by saying, “Tourism is leading the way in some of the world’s most innovative, sustainable energy initiatives. Energy-efficient upgrades to aircraft, the shift to renewable fuel for aviation and cruise liners, energy technology solutions in hotels, as well as countless other initiatives are placing tourism at the forefront of the clean energy transformation… these initiatives are crucial for sustainable development.”

Perhaps due to economic constraints and logistical challenges, businesses and services in Cape Town are still making a gradual transition to more responsible tourism practice but the benchmark and the guidelines are in place to escalate this journey, both in the responsible tourism policy and action plan and in the city’s commitment to recycling, conserving energy and transforming Cape Town into a highly sustainable and liveable city for all its citizens.

Says Councillor Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing: “The City of Cape Town works in partnership with its tourism partners to create an enabling environment for responsible tourism and encourages industry to work towards a more sustainable destination. The city’s responsible tourism strategy is intrinsically linked to a range of other sector policies, programmes and initiatives aimed at the development of a sustainable city – a key driver in realising our vision of building the city on five pillars: the Opportunity City; the Safe City; the Caring City; the Inclusive City; and the Well-run City.”

Nils Flaatten, chief executive officer of Wesgro comments, “From a trade and investment perspective, renewable energy is one of the Western Cape’s biggest investment areas. The Western Cape Provincial Government would like to generate 15% of the province’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2014. We have serious motivation to get the Cape’s energy combination right and we estimate that about 40% to 50% of wind technology projects and 30% to 40% of PV solar power projects will come to the Western Cape. This commitment is creating a market for companies in the renewable-energy-resources sector, as well as those in other sectors making use of these technologies, offsetting their carbon footprint and putting the message out to potential suppliers and travellers who are interested in fair-trade and responsible living.”

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold concludes, “Our World Design Capital 2014 status also means that we will have the chance to design new and improved ways of doing things that will create more responsible experiences for our visitors. Sustainable energy enterprises in tourism are known to create economic prospects and jobs, whether in tourism, energy or other sectors. We are seeing an increasing commitment by the tourism industry to accelerate the transition to responsible and sustainable tourism practices and leapfrog conventional options in favour of more sustainable solutions. However, much still needs to be done to reach the United Nations' goal of achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 and position tourism at the centre of the clean energy economies of the future.”

A practical “online energy school” tool has been developed by the UNWTO to help hoteliers cut their carbon emissions and costs. Visit Hotel Energy Solutions to attend the “online energy school”.

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