/ 21 July 2023

De Lille emphasises need to grow tourism on visit to Kruger

Screenshot 2023 04 19 At 10.03.54
Tourism minister Patricia De Lille.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said on a recent visit to the Kruger National Park the government, the public and the private sector need to work together to boost tourism in South Africa. 

In a statement she said it is vital that the Kruger, along with many attractions in the country, be maintained to provide tourists with a world-class and authentically South African experience. 

She said this is achievable if all relevant parties work together to ensure the standard of tourist attractions is up to par. 

“To grow the economic contribution of tourism even further, we need to work harder on all fronts, with government, communities and the private sector working hand in hand, to grow our tourism offering and attract more tourists to South Africa from all over the world,” she said.

Tourism is vital for the country’s economy because it attracts people to the country and, most importantly, it creates jobs for people living in and near tourist attractions. 

One of the reasons for her visit was to check on the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP). 

Launched in 2017 and reviewed in 2020, the programme aims to address issues of climate change, water and electricity constraints in the country by installing solutions for the sustainable management and use of electricity and water resources, the tourism department said.  

“The GTIP provides grant funding of up to R1 million to qualifying small and micro tourism enterprises for the installation of solutions to reduce their energy and water consumption and costs,” the GTIP said.  

De Lille said the GTIP sees the department co-funding energy and water upgrade projects at privately owned tourism establishments to facilitate more sustainable operations and uninterrupted visitor experiences.

Rolling out projects

To date, eight application windows to apply for the GTIP have been opened for qualifying small and micro tourism enterprises, with the most recent one closing on 30 June. 

“While applications received during the eight application window are currently being processed, the previous seven application windows of the GTIP already yielded 130 approved applications with a total grant value of R76.1 million disbursed by the department for installation of energy and water-saving measures at tourism establishments across the country,” De Lille said. 

Before the rollout of the GTIP, upgrades for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations by the tourism department were done on Robben Island, at national botanical gardens in the Western Cape, Free State and Northern Cape, as well as four sites in Kruger. 

“The cost of retrofitting all eight attractions amounted to R98.5 million for a combined total of 2.7 megawatts of installed renewable energy generating capacity. Combined savings for all eight sites is estimated to be just below R40 million by the end of the 2022/23 financial year,” the statement said.  

Power cuts affect tourism

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa told Business Day TV with load-shedding at stage six, businesses have had to close and staff were being laid off. 

He said the sector is asking for predictability — a fixed schedule — so businesses can plan and know when to open and close.  

The tourism industry has had to find a way around the cuts by using power alternatives such as solar and inverters. 

Although these systems are not cheap they do help to reduce electricity bills. De Lille said Skukuza camp in Kruger, which got one of the solar systems paid for by the tourism department, has cut its  electricity bill by R136 000 a month. 

She emphasised the importance of maintenance and investment in Kruger and other tourism sites in South Africa, with projects such as the GTIP to promote the use of clean energy and renewables.  

“As we aim to continue attracting more tourists to South Africa, continued investment and maintenance of tourist attractions is of strategic importance and this can only be achieved by government, communities and the private sector working together. This partnership has been demonstrated in a number of projects within the Kruger National Park,” she said. 

Lesego Chepape is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa