Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world, contributing almost 10% of the global GDP (9.6% in 2008) and accounting for more than 225 million jobs around the world. The global tourism industry has shown significant growth in the last 3 decades, and total international arrivals increased by an average of 4,4% per annum from about 278 million in 1980 to 922 million in 2008. In South Africa there has also been strong growth in the tourism sector since 1994, with an average growth of 6% over the past five years and a contribution of about R79 billion, or 8.2% of national GDP. Tourism is also a job creation sector, and South African tourism jobs increased by 10% in 2008. Tourists rate the country’s natural scenic beauty highest in tourist satisfaction and this is seen as an economic driver.

However, tourism is not just a potential victim of climate change, it also contributes to the causes of climate change.

Tourism in South Africa is closely linked to the environment and climate itself with the country’s biodiversity, fauna and flora, beaches and weather being major tourist attractions. Tourism is therefore considered to be a highly climate-sensitive economic sector similar to agriculture, insurance, energy, and transportation. Impacts in the tourism sector are likely to manifest through:

  • Environmental resources and conditions such as wildlife, the beach, heritage sites, scenic beauty and properly functioning ecosystems are critical for tourism growth and development in South Africa.

  • Climate-induced environmental changes will have profound effects on the tourism sector at the local and regional destination level.

  • Changes in water availability, biodiversity loss, reduced landscape aesthetic, altered agricultural production (e.g., food and wine tourism), increased natural hazards, coastal erosion and inundation, damage to infrastructure and the increasing incidence of vector-borne diseases will all negatively impact tourism to varying degrees.

  • National or international climate change mitigation policies may have impacts for biodiversity tourism in South Africa, because they may lead to changes in tourist mobility and flows. International measures, such as the EU Directive on Aviation, and efforts to promote low carbon tourism destinations pose a significant risk to South Africa’s tourism industry. South Africais a carbon intensive destination, and relies extensively on long haul flights from key international tourism markets.

  • The hospitality industry is a large consumer of energy and other resources. It has a large potential contribution to energy efficiency and other efficient resource usage initiatives.

In response to the above challenges, South Africa will:-

  1. Mainstream climate change in tourism planning, policy and development.

  2. Build climate resilience and adaptive capacity of tourist attractions/destinations and encourage green tourism infrastructure investment.

  3. Promote domestic tourism in order to counteract a decline/shift in international travel that may follow the implementation of transport mitigation policies in other countries.

  4. Encourage both domestic and international visitors to participate in the protection and conservation of South Africa’s natural environment and to enjoy a responsible travel experience.

  5. Promote research, capacity building and awareness in the tourism sector.

  6. Support the establishment of energy efficiency programmes and the introduction of renewable energy into the tourism sector.

  7. Establish programmes that will allow tourists to offset the emissions generated through their travel to and in South Africa.


Environmentally oriented tourism

It would be helpful if item 5.5.16 could be elaborated to introduce other areas of tourism such as nature-based tourism, eco-tourism and responsible tourism; and to emphasise that these are important aspects of tourism as they not only actively promote the protection of the environmental, ecosystems and natural resources, but can also be utilised as a vehicle to meet local developmental goals, such as social upliftment and job creation.

New Business Minimums

New Businesses need to have carbon plans before their plans are approved.Hotels are the best example, if a new hotel is going to go up, it needs to be 'green' to a certain point before being approved by council.Solar geysers, insulation regulations..etc should be a minimum requirement. This should be included for all new businesses in South Africa, not just tourism entities.