Tourism sector called to action on sustainable energy this World Tourism Day

September 27 marks global World Tourism Day. Initiated and facilitated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), it is a day on which the tourism industry is called to consider its role in various pertinent global issues. The focus this year is on tourism and sustainable energy – powering sustainable development. 

Worldwide the tourism sector has a significant impact on energy consumption, accounting for 5% of global carbon emissions, according to UNWTO. Around 4% is attributed to transport, in particular flights, with nearly 1% coming from accommodation and small amounts from other tourism services. However, due to the size and adaptability of the tourism industry, it can play a key role in shifting perception and transforming its operations to intensify sustainable practice.

Critical to the success of a transformation to sustainability in tourism is the partnership between government, as well as international organisations, with the destinations, stakeholders and subsidiaries themselves. Despite, and perhaps because of, its serious challenges with regard to energy security and a high carbon footprint, Cape Town is a global leader in responsible tourism practice through various initiatives being spearheaded by the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism, Fedhasa and others.

The remaining tension is one of market demand and economics versus the willingness to change and the commitment to its implementation. A myriad of technology is surfacing that will make this transition easier, including clever gadgets that deactivate air conditioners when a hotel guest leaves the room, better design of hotels to allow for more natural light and temperature regulation and, particularly with escalating electricity tariffs, a shift to solar energy and heat pumps.

Says Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe, “As a long-haul destination, our carbon offset needs to be particularly good to attract travellers who may see this as a critical factor in their travel decision-making. From a general perception that each facet of the tourism supply chain is invested in a sustainability transition to the tangible proof – such as tree-planting programmes, energy efficient lighting and clever use of technology – we need to really roll up our sleeves when it comes to the sustainable development and conservation of energy.”

In partnership with the City of Cape Town, 21 hotels in the destination are currently engaged in a two-year programme to assess, monitor and share progress towards achieving responsible tourism practice in Cape Town.

Another City of Cape Town energy project that encompasses all commercial buildings, including hotels, is the Commercial Energy Efficiency Forum. Again it’s a forum to share best practice and to find out more about innovative management and viable technology as we transition to a new model for energy.

The UNWTO has created an online energy school – a free resource which is available to hotels needing to assess and understand the options and implications of a shift to sustainable energy. 

For further information, please contact:

Skye Grove, Cape Town Tourism PR and Communication Manager on +27 21 487 6800, email or visit

Daylin Mitchell, ESO to MAYCO Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing at the City of Cape Town – Councillor Grant Pascoe, email

Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications. Contact Tammy White on +27 21 448 9705, +27 73 202 5041 or email

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