Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ campaign effectively communicated to its 400,000 residents the severity of the drought crisis that the city inched towards in 2017 and articulated the need to reduce and limit water consumption to avoid such a crisis. Restrictions of 50 litres of water per person per day were advised, with some fines and cut-offs imposed for violators.
At the same time, the private sector put in place measures such as replacing soap with sanitisers, installing waterless urinals, removing bath plugs, and steaming vegetables rather than boiling them. Complementing this, the South African government fixed leaks free of charge. In September 2018, dam levels hit 70% for the first time since 2015 and restrictions relaxed to 70 litres per person per day.
This multi-stakeholder effort to cut consumption of water by 60% over three years, is a feat that no other city has managed to achieve. While lessons are to be learnt on the use of scare tactics and their effect on the destination as a tourist spot, this case demonstrates a wholesale change of behaviour that transformed the city from being on the brink of crisis to being considered a water-wise city and best practice leader.
Slovenia embodies the sentiment that if you make a destination more attractive for its residents, then tourists will follow. 46% of Slovenian land is covered with forest and almost all residential areas are situated within 300 meters of public green space. In 2007, its capital, Ljubljana, created an ecological zone free from motorised vehicles, and in the decade following, pedestrian areas in the city have increased by 620%.
It’s not a geographical accident that Slovenia is home to rich biodiversity, but a result of conscientious planning and environmental management. Green taxes are higher than OECD averages, which helps to keep 10% of all territory protected under conservation laws. Meanwhile, efforts are made to keep farming of a low intensity and to improve water and air quality. There is thus a wholesale commitment in Slovenia to sustainability both in terms of ecological stewardship and clean green infrastructure.
Home to the largest elephant population in the world, 20% of Botswana’s surface area is made up of designated wildlife reserves. To preserve its wildlife, Botswana positioned itself as a high-end destination whereby tourist numbers are kept to a minimum while tourist dollars are maximised. The country has financed anti-poaching forces and National Parks through its high-value, low-impact model of tourism, which is entrenched into national tourism plans. What is impressive about this plan is not necessarily its luxury appeal, but rather the commitment to reinvesting in community and conservation.
In a public-private partnership with the diamond group De Beers, the Botswana government has also had significant success with rhino conservation. Once a bleak situation whereby wild rhinos had to be moved away from the territory because of the threat of poaching, Botswana and De Beers have revitalised the population by hosting an undisclosed number of the animals in a secret location with 24-hour protection. To strengthen this group of rhinos, they now ship animals in from other parts of the continent to widen the gene pool and keep the population healthy.
Thompson Okanagan, Canada
In 2012, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) embarked on the implementation of a regional tourism strategy, which was produced through 48 input sessions over 18 months having consulted 1,800 stakeholders and gained endorsement from all affected communities, including 33 indigenous First Nations groups. At the core of this strategy is the notion that the region’s natural assets are the ultimate priority of both TOTA and its stakeholders; thus, tourism development must align itself with this ethos at every step.
Prior to the formation of this strategy, TOTA transitioned from a membership model to a stakeholder model, thus representing 4,500 local businesses, up from 300 previously, eradicating barriers to entry for tourism stakeholders in the region. This coincided with a shift in priorities from destination marketing to more holistic destination management.
Once implemented, one of the plan’s goals was to increase tourism throughout the year. Whereas local businesses once earned 80% of their revenue in just 45 days, in six years this spread to 110 days as the destination offers a greater diversity of products and experiences.
What’s more, the strategy’s focus on sustainability led to the destination becoming the first North American location to have gained accreditation across all 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after successfully addressing 137 criteria as outlined by UNWTO. This is now followed with annual action plans and audits to ensure that the region continues to progress on sustainability.
Costa Rica has made sustainable tourism part of its DNA, focusing its entire value proposition around the development of sustainable products and services with low environmental impact and a positive impact on the wellbeing of its local communities. The Costa Rican government strives to ensure that its entire offering is aligned with its brand, Essential Costa Rica, showcasing the nation’s compelling vision for the future and its commitment to the environment.
Understanding the long-term value of its rich natural resources, Costa Rica has created tourism offerings to enable tourists to discover its unique natural heritage, while making the preservation of natural assets a top priority. In fact, across a 26-year period, Costa Rica has recovered a significant proportion of its forestry, not only stopping deforestation but actively reversing the process. In 2013, 52.4% of Costa Rican territory was thus forestry compared to just 21% in 1987. The first tropical country to stop deforestation, the forest growth rate in Costa Rica stands at 0.5% per year.
For ‘Protected Areas’ of Costa Rica that are also tourist areas, management plans are devised assisting destinations in developing environmental standards and planning visitor flow so that overcrowding is avoided.