I have written quite extensively about sustainability and the responsibility the Travel and Tourism industries have to ensure its execution. Airlines in particular are under fire as major participants in exacerbating carbon emissions and thankfully they are taking this very seriously and finding ways to improve their fuels and services so that we can all have a greener planet.
A totally different aspect, however, of sustainability and its impact on tourism and travel was a hot topic at a recent conference I attended where it was illustrated that the many efforts and initiatives relating to sustainability globally could prove to be a vital tourism booster for our country, particularly when this is assisted by our hospitality industry and us as individuals.
E-Fest and Formula E
One such example of a boon to tourism through a sustainability initiative is Africa’s Green Economy Summit, part of the E-Fest taking place in Cape Town in February next year, which according to a local publication ‘’will focus on the exciting investment opportunities to accelerate Africa’s e-mobility transition and host the continent’s first Formula E race. The City of Cape Town will host E-Fest from 22–25 February 2023. It will include a curated mix of content and events showcasing e-mobility in the week leading up to the first-ever E-Prix on the African continent.’’
According to David Ashdown, the CEO of VUKA Group, the organisers of the summit “A global event like the Formula E being held in Africa for the first time will create legacy impact projects that will shape the future of our continent. Meeting during the week before race weekend, global delegates will contribute towards two days of deep dialogue around the green economy, a day of exciting social activities around the Western Cape and concluding in a race weekend in the heart of Cape Town under the majestic Table Mountain.”
A boost that will hopefully drive us all
This is extremely exciting stuff and illustrates that just as the hospitality industry has a responsibility to boost eco-friendly practices, it can benefit too from sustainability events. Hopefully, these types of events will also spur not only the hospitality industry but South Africans as a whole into increasing our own drive to friendlier eco practices. I hope that the huge numbers of internationals who follow Formula E when coming here to boost our local tourism will be a good influence on our hospitality participants but better still that we will be ready and as equipped as possible to meet their expectations from a sustainability point of view.
I’m encouraged by initiatives already undertaken by hoteliers, lodges and restaurant owners like undertaking to green their properties, growing their own veggies, using solar lighting panels in the parking lights to power the property etc but it will take more of a concerted effort by all South Africans to get us anywhere near some of the much higher ‘green’ standards of other countries.
A glimmer of light behind the darkness
I have often been accused (in a tongue-in-cheek manner of course) of taking the ‘glass half full’ thing to extremes but even behind the darkness that ESKOM often thrusts us into I see a glimmer of light. The extremely worrying extent to which our load shedding has escalated should at least have most of us pushing the green agenda now in our homes and offices too and that’s what we need to become an eco-friendly conscious nation.
Very little is achieved by the individual, regardless of one’s enthusiasm or the dire need to act. The greening of our planet is a responsibility that the travel and tourism industries need to take seriously but it is not theirs alone to bear and their initiatives alone will not be a solution. However, I am quite confident that sustainability, taken as a collective responsibility, will help tourism to prosper and grow.LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER