Green Tourism in South Africa

In line with COP17 held in Kwazulu ñ Natal last year, the South African tourism sector has set out to preserve one of the countryís biggest assets ñ nature, in addition to fighting climate change.

A green rating system for the tourism industry has been developed by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA). This system certifies tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in South Africa against standard environmental criteria in addition to taking into consideration fair trade labour, socio-economic and management practices. The green rating system promotes
responsible tourism, recycling and green procurement, building design and construction, environmental management, low energy and water use, waste avoidance and low chemical use.

South Africa is also the first to launch a unique concept in the international travel industry by offering Tourists the ability to book entire tour packages that boast a minimised carbon travel footprint.

To be certified, a business needs to undergo an assessment by a FTTSA team as well as an independent review panel of South Africaís top tourism experts. There are 14 sections of standards and criteria, with sub-sections, depending on the type of business being assessed. This is undergone in conjunction with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and the Tourism Grading Council and the businessí credentials will be re-assessed every two years.

There has been a noticeable increase in travellers inquiring about fair trade and environmental criteria before booking accommodation or a tour. The certification system promotes a more mindful approach to tourism that aims to sustain and improve land, water and air by lessening travellersí impact on the environment.

Although being certified is an investment, in the long term, the business will benefit not only from preferential market access, but will save money due to reduced running costs.

With this green rating system, South Africa is set to become a global frontrunner in “green” tourism.