Renewable energy is potentially one of the biggest investment areas in the Western Cape, according to Nils Flaatten, the chief executive of Wesgro, the official agency to boost trade and attract investment and tourists to the province.

Flaatten said that it was expected that between 40 percent and 50 percent of wind power projects in South Africa and 15 percent of solar energy projects would be set up in the Western Cape, where the provincial government hopes to generate 10 percent of the area’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2014.

“This commitment is creating a market for companies in the renewable energy resources sector, as well as those in other sectors using these technologies, offsetting their carbon footprint and sending the message to potential suppliers and travellers who are interested in fair trade and responsible living.”

Cape Town Tourism is encouraging the locally based hotel industry to switch to renewable energy, in line with the UN World Tourism Organisation’s theme for this year’s World Tourism Day in September.

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said the fact that the city would have the title of World Design Capital in 2014 should encourage the design of “new and improved ways of doing things that will create more responsible experiences for our visitors. Sustainable enterprises in tourism are known to create economic prospects and jobs, whether in tourism, energy or other sectors.

“We are seeing an increase in commitment by our tourism industry to accelerate the transition to responsible and sustainable practices and change conventional practices to more sustainable solutions.”

Cape Town Tourism spokeswoman Skye Grove said businesses and services in the city were still making a gradual transition to more responsible practices but the benchmark and guidelines were in place to speed this process up, both in the city’s responsible tourism policy and action plan and its commitment to recycling waste and conserving energy.