Tourism: Cape Verde goes greener with collaborative approach

Stakeholders from the tourism industry and local government representatives are joining forces for a greener Cape Verde. At the first ever Greener Hotels Business Impact Forum – to be held on October 18th– delegates will share advice and best practice to implement ambitious resource-efficiency action plans. By the end of 2018, it aims to reduce tourism’s waste-to-landfill by 20 per cent on the two main islands of Sal and Boa Vista, and to decrease water and energy usage in Sal by 10 per cent. TUI Care Foundation is enabling this two-year project in cooperation with international sustainable tourism NGO, the Travel Foundation.

After conducting research in the field, sustainability specialists will now advise hotels on how to enhance efficiency across all their operations – kitchen, restaurants, gardens, etc. - and install a monitoring system for water, energy and waste. Training will also be provided to employees, while promoting collaboration between hotels for a synchronized approach to meet targets. Finally, the programme will develop and advise on communication strategies for customers, as a lasting impact for a greener Cape Verde will only be possible in cooperation with guests of the islands.

Sixteen hotels, representing approximately half of all tourism in Cape Verde, have already pledged to participate in the initiative. And more hotels on the islands are being encouraged to join.

According to Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, a collaborative approach is crucial: “Resource efficiency is important for any business, anywhere, but on islands like Cape Verde, it becomes essential. Our project with the Travel Foundation has taken an evidence-based approach to focus on the issues that really count both for tourism, and the people of Cape Verde, to thrive. By working together and finding concrete solutions, we can ensure tourism plays its part in forging Cape Verde’s sustainable future. I wish the participants of the first ever Greener Hotels Business Impact Forum great success.”

The tourism industry in Cape Verde has experienced continuous growth over the last decade. Having contributed to 44.5% of total GDP and generating, directly and indirectly, almost 39% of total employment in 2016, the sector has become a critical factor for the country´s overall development. As the industry grows it becomes ever more important to direct efforts towards laying the foundations of a sustainable approach to protect the island chain and upon which tourism can serve as a force for good.

Ms. Salli Felton, CEO of the Travel Foundation, explains: “Cape Verde is a special but fragile environment. Public and private organisations must come together to ensure that best practices, already evident in Cape Verde, are adopted more widely. Only by working together will we find solutions at the scale required to keep pace of growth. Through this initiative, Cape Verde is a step closer to safeguarding its future as a great place to live, work and visit.”

Indeed, the project builds upon previous experience and a range of already existing good practices. For example, RIU hotels have a partnership with suppliers to return plastic bottles to the capital city of Praia. Another hotel in Boa Vista encourages its guests to save plastic waste by refilling water bottles for free rather than pay for imported bottled water. Also, hotels are installing solar panels to heat all their water solar energy. In 2013, Travel Foundation set up a Destination Council on the island of Sal. This served as a platform for local organisations to work together to better manage the impacts of tourism and create new opportunities. Since 2017, the council is focusing on water, energy and waste.

Building on this experience, the Cape Verde Goes Greener project is promoting further small interventions that are meant for big impact when applied at large scale and in a coordinated manner.