The tourism sector in South Africa plays an important role in the economy and in 2016 contributed R 402 billion to the economy (9.3% of GDP, forecast to grow to 11.5% by 2023) and was responsible for 9.8% of total employment. In 2017 there were 123,000 rooms available for tourists and 25million stay nights were provided.
Energy consumption per night at tourism institutions varies between 11 and 40kWh and many establishments have practices and technologies that are not energy or water efficient. Research indicates that simple interventions in many establishments could achieve energy and water savings of 30 to 40%. This indicates that an effective energy and water improvement programme could have substantial impacts that would not only benefit tourism organisations through reduced operating costs but also reduce the pressure on municipal water and energy supplies and support South African in meeting its climate change commitments.
South Africa has a Responsible Tourism Standard that has been developed by the Department of Tourism and the SABS. It will also be embarking on a large-scale programme to upgrade tourism institutions supported through grant funding by the IDC. There is, therefore, an opportunity to validate the benefits of aligning with the Standard and to assess improved performance. An assessment and rating process provides a way of measuring and validating efforts made to achieve improved sustainability standards and performance.
The Sustainable Tourism Assessment and Rating System (STARS) is being developed to assess and rate tourism institutions and is based on SANS 1162:2011 Responsible tourism — Requirements. The rating tool and guides will be piloted at selected sites.