Feebearing - Cape Town - 141106 - The V&A Waterfront has been awarded as the best destination for responsible tourism. REPORTER: ANEL LEWIS. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Cape Town - The V&A Waterfront was one of two Cape Town destinations to clinch gold at the World Responsible Tourism awards in London, in recognition of the “scale and thoroughness” of its efforts to reduce environmental impacts with sustainable green business practices.

Hotel Verde near Cape Town International Airport won gold in the Best City Hotel category for involving guests, suppliers and delegates in its efforts to reduce waste and conserve energy.

The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance, which uses tourism to fund sanctuaries, won gold as the Best Animal Welfare Initiative and the overall World Responsible Tourism award.

Referring to the Waterfront, the judges highlighted the various measures it used to increase resource efficiency and reduce costs, such as the refurbishment of the local craft market and support for a food market supplied by 50 local producers.

Waterfront chief executive David Green said: “As a truly responsible corporate citizen, we regard it as our duty to future generations to constantly focus on sustainable practices, from reducing our carbon footprint to preserving our scarce energy and water reserves.”

The Waterfront has received numerous awards for its green initiatives, including the top Green Building Council of South Africa rating for its two Silo developments. The No 1 Silo has a six-star rating – the highest sustainability achievement for any building in Cape Town.

The Responsible Tourism awards are the flagship of the World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Programme, and recognise the role tourism can play in promoting cultural integrity and protecting the environment.

South Africa has also been named as the host city for the May 2015 international conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, as part of Africa Travel Week.

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said “substantial growth” was expected in SA tourism over the next two decades.

“While we welcome the additional contribution that this will make to the national economy, and the creation of more jobs in tourism, we must manage the physical footprint of the projected growth responsibly, especially its impact on local culture and ecosystems.”

Speaking of the Waterfront’s achievement, Hanekom said: “The V&A Waterfront has invested considerably to create energy efficiencies, water saving and waste recycling measures. Other tourist destinations can learn much from how this has been achieved, and the V&A Waterfront will be an inspiration to become sustainable in their own way.”

Hanekom said there were plans to put incentives in place that would encourage tourism attractions to retrofit facilities with energy-saving facilities.

“This could create new jobs for years to come, lower operational costs and do what’s best for the environment,” Hanekom said.

South Africa is only the second country in the world, after Brazil, to have national minimum standards for responsible tourism.

Cape Argus