When I go on holiday, I want to stay in certified green establishments. I have tried, believe me, but have I failed? The last time I was sent an invitation to visit and promote a new so-called green tourism site, I browsed through the list of beautiful places in search of the answer to my obvious question: What makes them green?
Eventually I gave them a ring and asked for their criteria according to which they selected establishments to join their green initiative. Deadly silence. Uh, we don’t know. They had no idea why they call them green!
It has been said that greenwashing is doing more harm to the environment than global warming. Not because it directly depletes our natural resources and pollutes our world, but because opportunistic marketing is feeding a crowd of skeptics, who now view any green claims with disbelief. It is the best excuse for simply continuing life and business as usual, at the expense of the planet. You need to ask the right questions and know what you’re looking for. Let’s rather get informed, then to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Certainly, if you have a buck grazing in your garden, or even if you offer a game drive, this doesn’t make your business environmentally sustainable. South African tourists are wanting the see the proof that you are practically reducing your impact and working towards carbon neutrality. Show me your environmental policy. Have you done an energy and water audit? What are your future plans for reducing your footprint on the earth? Surely you want to meet your customers’ expectations and show that you are informed and care about the crucial sustainability principles you need to have in place?
That’s why I was excited to find out that NaturCert – an international tourism certification body – has now arrived in South Africa to help us get our houses in order. NaturCert develops sustainability criteria and programs recognizing green & sustainable travel & tourism organizations. ETC-Africa, a KwaZulu-Natal based environment and consultancy firm, was appointed to handle this work in our country.
We now also have a Western, Northern and Southern Cape agent in place to assist you with your transition. So write to us if you’re keen to start working towards international certification at affordable rates, and have your tourist accommodation third-party audited.