South Africa needs to join the green economic revolution and get long term profit says van Schalkwyk
South Africa needs to decide now where it wants to be in 2020 in terms of sustainable tourism, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said last Saturday.
Speaking at the opening of the annual Tourism Indaba in Durban, Van Schalkwyk said the country's tourism sector needed to take decisive action in joining the green economic revolution that was underway in order to avoid being an industry that "raids our natural resources for short-term profit".
"My challenge to the industry is: walk with us to transform the sector, to reduce its carbon and water footprint, improve sustainability practices and scale up sustainable tourism certification, and create green jobs," he said.
The Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three 'must visit' events of its kind on the global calendar. It showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa's best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world.
International arrivals in South Africa have increased to 12.25 million from 6.5 million in 2004. Of the figure, more than 8.3 million were tourists.
Van Schalkwyk told delegates attending this year's Indaba that they needed to invest much more seriously in energy-efficiency products, green building design, the roll-out of renewable energy technologies and consumer education.
"There are some areas in which we now need to cooperate with those international players against whom we also compete," he said.
Van Schalkwyk stressed that cooperation was urgently needed, especially on the African continent, where there was a need to work together to remove barriers to international travel and tourism.
He was confident that by 2020, some leading world economies, including South Africa, would have implemented a system of "e-visas" that would improve security while also facilitating hassle-free travel.
This matter would be raised at the T.20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting - a platform for deliberations between the tourism ministers from the G20 countries.
Van Schalkwyk also urged the tourism sector to partner with "like-minded" partners in other long-haul destinations to fight the aggressive unilateralism with which new unfair taxes on international tourism were imposed.
"These taxes distort markets and affect passenger numbers and tourism receipts in long-haul developing-country destinations, and will increasingly do so in the years to come."
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