CapeNature’s Tourism Month Celebration Shines the Spotlight on Investing in People, the Planet and Prosperity

8 Sep 2023

The United Nations’ World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO) theme for International Tourism Month is, “Tourism and Green Investments”. This is a perfect fit for CapeNature, a trailblazer in developing award-winning eco-tourism infrastructure within protected areas. This year, Tourism Month has the ideal start as the entity hosts an event with likeminded stakeholders where a lively debate on the theme will spark food for thought.

CapeNature heeded a call for action by UNWTO to unite around rethinking tourism by hosting an event with key stakeholders and partners with an interest in eco-tourism. A debate on tourism and green investments was facilitated by Jo-Ann Strauss, renowned businesswoman and media personality, with expert panel members Sheraaz Ismail, Executive Director for Eco-Tourism and Access at CapeNature, Odile Hufkie, Marketing Manager for Cape Union Mart, Lillian Hlabangane, Head of Sales from Cape Town International Conference Centre, Julia Louw, Head of Leisure Tourism from Wesgro and Ilse van Schalkwyk, Chief Director for Economic Sector Support from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

CapeNature’s tourism development projects are carefully planned to minimise and mitigate environmental impacts while also optimising the use of green building technology. The entity’s post COVID-19 revenue performance has for the past two financial years set unprecedented records in revenue generation with a year-on-year growth of nearly 20%.

Minister Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, encourages the rechannelling of investments toward the betterment of humanity, our planet and shared prosperity: “Investing in our people is paramount. We need to nurture our workforce, enabling them with the skills, knowledge, and innovation required to propel our industry forward. We need to ensure that the tourism sector delivers on its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency. The green transformation of the tourism sector is very much needed, not just for the planet, but also for tourism itself, for boosting competitiveness and increasing resilience. Green investments and innovation in the tourism sector must play a leading role to support this transformation. Prosperity thrives on entrepreneurship and innovation and it's imperative that we foster a space where this can flourish. By increasing investments, particularly for our youth and women, we can catalyse new opportunities and innovations within the tourism sector.”

Dr Razeena Omar, CEO of CapeNature, welcomed the critical engagement between tourism industry role players. “We entered 2023 with strong support from our local and international visitors with tourist numbers increasing by a staggering 43% compared to the previous year, driven by an improved customer service model and innovative projects that have been pushing to excel visitor confidence. I am grateful to see our visitors continue to enjoy world-renown experiences in wide-open spaces right in our backyards.”

Tourism is one of the world’s leading employers. In 2019, the sector employed one in 10 people worldwide and has proven to be a tool for economic diversification and a major employment engine with a multiplier effect on other sectors that contribute to rural development. We need to invest in people by investing in education and skills. This will enable us to deliver on the sector’s potential to drive growth and opportunities for all.

CapeNature has upgraded existing tourism offerings and built new products by working closely with partners and stakeholders to ensure that we have a sustained growth path via a pipeline of products including public-private partnership opportunities, and green building technology practices. One of its nature reserves, Rocherpan, on the West Coast has gone completely off grid, embracing solar energy and mitigating loadshedding. This is a future consideration for a number of its reserves in the Western Cape.

Minister Anton Bredell, MEC Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Dr Razeena Omar, CEO of CapeNature, Sheraaz Ismail, Executive Director, Eco-Tourism and Access, CapeNature and Coral Birss, Executive Director Biodiversity Capabilities, CapeNature.

The panel discussing Tourism and Green Investments facilitated by Jo-Ann Strauss (far left) with Ilse van Schalkwyk, Chief Director for Economic Sector Support from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Julia Louw, Head of Leisure Tourism from Wesgro, Mpume Mabuza, African Association of Tourism Experiences and Attractions (AAVEA), Sheraaz Ismail, Executive Director for Eco-Tourism and Access, CapeNature and Odile Hufkie, Marketing Manager for Cape Union Mart.

Jo-Ann Strauss, former Miss South Africa and well-known media personality was both the Emcee and Facilitator of the panel discussion at the World Tourism month event hosted by CapeNature.

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