The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway won a silver runners-up award at the African Responsible Tourism Awards in the Best for Resource Management category, at a ceremony hosted today by World Travel Market Africa 2015 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.
The Best for Resource Management category is awarded to a tourism organisation using innovative and replicable activities to reduce and manage its water and energy consumption, as well as its levels of waste. Chobe Game Lodge won first prize for this category.
Sabine Lehmann, managing director of the Cableway, is delighted that the Cableway has been recognised for its responsible tourism practices, which over the past five years have resulted in a 6.6% reduction in electricity use, a 17% reduction in water use and a % reduction in waste to landfill. There has also been a whopping 950% increase in recycling volumes between 2011 and 2014.
“Being based in a national park and a World Heritage Site, the management of resources in an environmentally sensitive area poses a range of challenges when you consider we transported 850 000 visitors to the top of Table Mountain last year. So responsible tourism is at the heart of what we do,” Lehmann says.
To save water, the Cableway developed a unique toilet and waste-water removal system as far back as 1997. The urinals are waterless, while the toilets recycle water from the hand basins that get added to a central tank to reduce the amount of fresh water needed to keep the system going.
“We have also reduced the amount of grey water generated by a massive 1-million litres, by moving the production kitchen to the Lower Cable Station and introducing compostable cups, lids, cutlery and straws,” Lehmann says.
Regarding waste management, the Cableway has appointed an in-house recycler to ensure the maximum possible amount of recyclable waste is removed from the general waste stream, increased the number of recycling bins on site to ensure that more separation of waste is taking place at source, and installed soda fountains and beer on tap (sold in compostable cups) in the Table Mountain Café to reduce in the use of glass, soft drink cans and plastic bottles.
Electricity-saving measures include the fitting of timers and blankets to all essential geysers, the use of energy-efficient lighting and the regulation of all air conditioners. A little-known fact is that the energy generated by the descent of the cable cars sees 1 500kWh a month being fed back into the electricity grid.
“At the Cableway we take our role as a custodian of Table Mountain very seriously. We aim to make positive contributions to conserve natural and cultural heritage, as well as minimise environmental and social impacts,” says Lehmann.