Hoteliers based in KwaZulu-Natal recently learnt all about what it takes to be an environementally-friendly establishment after attending a workshop hosted by founder of online hospitality directories Hotelstuff/Greenstuff, Lorraine Jenks.
The workshop, a collaboration with Eskom, focused on greening and energy efficiency for hoteliers in and around Durban who will be hosting the COP17 Climate Change Convention delegates later this year
"We sat down with Eskom earlier this year and the discussion turned to COP17 and whether our lodgings were adequately prepared to demonstrate that we can be leaders in eco tourism and compete with other destinations on green travel. The general sentiment was that the industry could do with a course in implementing energy efficient technologies and where to start greening their operations - before COP17," says Jenks.
The How to Go Green workshop looked at how easy and cost effective it can be to go green, exploring related myths and greener procurement. Eskom presented on their funding and incentive schemes for energy efficient programmes, and industry experts Kinesh Chetty of GreenerFuture and Mike Nicholls of Interwaste spoke on the importance of choosing carbon auditors carefully, waste management and turning waste into energy. Green tourism certificates were also a hot topic.
"By December, every lodging in and around Durban needs to carry consistent in-room messaging about sustainability and also lighten their operational footprint, if we are to impress COP17 delegates. These are world leaders in environmental issues that we're hosting and a critical opportunity to position South Africa as a green destination of choice.
"We must put our greenest foot forward for COP17. I firmly believe that with good collaborative management and a little effort South Africa could be the greenest destination in the world. A set of clearly defined green criteria for certification, realistically priced audits and workshops on green operations are all it takes to start the journey," says Jenks.
"The focus of our demand side management programme is to balance electricity supply and demand through the promotion of more energy-efficient technologies and processes. We needed hotels and lodgings to better understand the funding and rebate programmes we offer to the hospitality industry and to implement change now," says Andrew Etzinger, senior general manager, Eskom Integrated Demand Management.
"Ironic as it is, we are collaborating with our national power supplier to motivate consumers to buy less of their product - power! For real change to happen, it requires the ongoing commitment of those at the top. I applaud Eskom's dedication to greening our sector and their ongoing investment in education," says Jenks.
According to Jenks, South Africa's hosting of COP17 has a nationwide implication. "It is not just Durban lodgings that need to start greening, but the whole of South Africa. Cape Town in particular will see an influx of visitors around this time," she says.
Plans are underway for Hotelstuff/Greenstuff and Eskom to host a similar greening and energy efficiency workshop in Cape Town in early November.
"Tourism is the very lifeblood of the Cape. For the Mother City to compete globally as a green destination, economic development and sustainability must occur in the same context. The Cape faces different sustainability issues compared to other cities, which is why we are responding to the call for a second localised greening workshop ahead of COP17. There are massive growth opportunities for the smart and eco-conscious hotelier," says Jenks.