The increasing influx of tourists to the city has prompted calls for tourism and the hospitality industry to become more environmentally conscious. Picture Mxolisi Madela/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - The increasing influx of tourists to the city has prompted calls for tourism and the hospitality industry to become more environmentally conscious, because of the impact of their environmental footprint.

Stats SA data shows that 94.9% of foreign arrivals listed holidays as the reason for their visit to South Africa, while 25.5% of those tourists were from overseas.

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said: “Different destinations are competing for various reasons including infrastructure, scenic beauty and especially responsible tourism.

“For this industry to become more environmentally friendly, there needs to be a mind shift in the hospitality industry, and we try to create this awareness by showcasing small changes that can be made to change the environmental landscape of the industry.” Vos said if Cape Town’s tourism and hospitality sector did not become more environmentally responsible, it could also potentially drive away international tourists.

“When the drought happened in the Western Cape, the hospitality and tourism industry were almost forced to implement small measures to minimise water usage. Currently we also experience a plastic crisis, therefore it’s essential for the industry to find alternatives to plastics,” he said.

The city has created a declaration for responsible tourism that aims to make sure the city adopts sustainable methods within the industry to avoid the negative environmental impacts on society, such as reducing the amount of waste produced, using energy efficiently and conserving water.

Chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa in the Cape (Fedhasa), Jeff Rosenberg, said: “The local hospitality industry is clearly working towards more sustainable practices and protecting the environment. It’s evident in the number of establishments that have removed single use plastic straws from their hotels and restaurants. Many hotels are pursuing biodegradable, compostable and recyclable alternatives.

“There are many options establishments should consider, such as reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

“Some hotels recycle 90% to 95% of their waste, and making use of products that are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable allows establishments to reduce the amount of waste produced,” he said.

General manager of The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Michael Nel, said: “People are more aware of the effect they’re having on the environment and it’s becoming more difficult for travellers to control their footprints.”

Nel said the success of tourism could potentially undermine the long-term viability of the environment.

Developments created to support the success of the hospitality businesses across the globe could put the future of the business and its environment at risk.

“All organisations involved in the hospitality industry need to play their part. It’s the combined team effort that’s going to make the difference.

“The ocean is an important part of all our businesses and it’s in all our interest to take care of the resource to ensure its long-term sustainability.”

Nel said the industry had a responsibility towards areas in which they operate and it was important to be sensitive to the environment.

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus