South Africa - Africa’s greenest hotel, Hotel Verde has focused on sustainable tourism since opening in 2013 and its innovations in rain-water harvesting and grey-water treatment are proving to be a big help in drought stricken Cape Town.
For the South African hospitality industry, sustainable tourism has been in the spotlight in recent months, not only because 2017 was declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations, but also due to the drought inflicting the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
The drought has pushed many travel and hospitality businesses in the region to operate more sustainably.
With a commitment to the environment through construction, operation and maintenance, Hotel Verde has at its establishment, facilities to harvest rain-water and also recycles grey-water produced in its bathrooms.
The hotel’s grey-water recycling systems were included in the hotel’s original design and save close to R500 000 a year, resulting in the initial cost being recouped within four and a half years of operation.
The grey-water recycling system and other infrastructure such as water-efficient washing machine cycles and low-flow tap fittings, have allowed the hotel to provide guests with a consistent luxury product despite water restrictions.
Faced with the crippling drought, the city of Cape Town, which attracts large numbers of tourists, has instituted water restrictions that are affecting the hospitality industry.
Hotel Verde and other players in the hospitality industry in Cape Town have had to grapple with the question of how to save water while maintaining high standards and top facilities for tourists.
To address that question Hotel Verde recently hosted a Twitter chat to engage industry players on the topic of water wise tourism in Cape Town with the harsh tag: #WaterwiseTourismCT.
The chat provided a platform to share ideas and find solutions to the challenges arising from the Cape Town’s water restrictions.
A key area of discussion was how tourism and hospitality businesses are saving water and encouraging their guests and visitors to participate. Tying in with this was the challenge facing 4- to 5-star tourism products – how to save water yet maintain a luxury offering.
The Twitter chat revealed that many businesses are providing guests with water saving tips via signage or digital platforms, and have begun educating employees on water conservation. Similarly, the industry is realizing the importance of supporting water wise businesses when seeking partnerships.
To conclude the discussion, Hotel Verde asked participants how the water crisis can become an opportunity.
While the water shortage is indeed a crisis, the #WaterwiseTourismCT chat showed that it has inadvertently had a positive impact on sustainable tourism, creating a more thriving industry than before.
In 2015 Hotel Verde became the first hotel in the world to receive double LEED Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council, acknowledging the hotel’s commitment to the environment through construction, operation and maintenance.
As a pioneer in the sustainable tourism industry, Hotel Verde is continuously embracing green innovation and places strong emphasis on environmental education.
The hotel guarantees guests a sustainable stay, supplying them with a complimentary carbon-offset certificate, and offers an in-house rewards programme that encourages guests to make more eco-friendly choices; such as reusing towels to reduce water consumption in the laundry.
With an increasing number of travellers choosing green accommodation, sustainable operations will surely benefit in years to come.
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