Tourism must go ‘green’

Durban – The tourism industry must lead the way to take SA into a low carbon economy, tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Monday.

“Rather than waiting for government to regulate its carbon footprint, its recycling practices or its commitment to the environmentally responsible practices, I encourage the industry to initiate its own processes,” Van Schalkwyk, who was speaking at the SA Association for the Conference Industry held at Elangeni Hotel in Durban, said.

Van Schalkwyk said government would eventually come up with standards and regulations in promoting a low carbon economy but the tourism industry should be at the forefront and be able to lead.

“Not only does it make business sense, but it’s the right thing to do for the future generations. I am convinced that in a few years from now we will be looking back in disbelief about days gone by when all major conferences or events were carbon neutral.”

The conference was also attended by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu and SA Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-Mclean.

Van Schalkwyk encouraged tourism industry players to switch to greener or renewable energy sources, green procurements throughout the supply chain, promoting changes to consumer behaviour and promoting lower carbon transport options.

“We want to be dynamic leaders in this revolution and not the reluctant followers,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk said returns would be made from the money spent to build the new King Shaka International Airport in Durban. He was expected to visit the airport later on Monday.

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