The DA has submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) seeking clarity on beneficiaries of the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) administered by the Department of Tourism.
Earlier this year, the DA submitted questions to the department requesting the details of all GTIP recipients and the corresponding funds issued since its inception. The department was unwilling to divulge the details of successful applicants in the private sector, insisting on a PAIA application before furnishing any further details.
The objective of the GTIF according to the department “is to encourage private sector tourism enterprises to move towards the sustainable management of water and energy resources whilst adhering to responsible tourism practices.”
In a water-scarce country such as South Africa, the sustainable management of water resources to secure the resilience and longevity of the tourism sector should not be a lacklustre tick-box exercise but a priority. South Africa has been hard-hit with multi-year droughts in the Northern and Eastern Cape whilst numerous other provinces face varying levels of water crises. This is compounded by poor water management and foresight by municipalities, as well as outdated and crumbling infrastructure. The litany of challenges to water security makes it vitally important to ensure that the tourism sector builds resilience through the adoption of sustainable water-use practices.
Unstable electricity supply and the projected effects of climate change as temperatures rise lend further urgency to the need for speedy green transformation of the tourism sector. Climate mitigation through transition to clean energy is not only driven by South Africa’s global commitment to decarbonisation, but by the demands of the global tourism market for responsible and sustainable tourism practice.
In light of the urgent need for Green Transformation, the department’s commitment to sustainable practice is dubious. In the Tourism Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) Green Tourism is briefly mentioned under Programme 4 Tourism Sector Support Services. The performance indicator for the GTIP is simply stated as “4 adjudication meetings”. There is no annual budget for the programme and neither a target for the number of applicants to be reviewed annually.
It is clear that the department lacks any ambition in the green and sustainable transformation of the tourism sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the sector – if tourism is to reach its potential as a significant contributor in post-Covid economic recovery, adequate foresight and planning are integral to build resilience.
The DA will continue to exercise oversight over the disbursement of public funds, and we await the outcome of our PAIA request. We recognise the need for sustainable transformation of the tourism sector and will continue to place this on the department’s agenda.
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