Nature Seychelles was at the tourism fair last week, organized as part of the activities to mark World Tourism Day. Held at the International Conference Centre, the fair was used as an avenue to promote sustainable energy. It saw the participation of local firms working in this area, the hotels and hospitality industry, local NGOs, and others.
World Tourism Day 2012 was held under the theme, “Tourism&Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.” The theme highlighted tourism’s role in sustainable energy.
“One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth, and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
“Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment,” he said.
2012 was designated the year of Sustainable Energy by the UN. Ban Ki Moon is leading the global initiative, “Sustainable Energy for All,” to mobilize action from all sectors of society to achieve universal access to modern energy services and a doubling of the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The initiative also aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
Seychelles is making its own efforts to reduce its overall energy consumption and to move on to more renewable sources of energy. The opening of the tourism fair included a presentation by the Seychelles Energy Commission (SEC) on energy-saving actions that tourism players can take to reduce the industry’s energy footprint. The SEC is also running a local campaign to urge energy efficiency by all.
Nature Seychelles used the fair to promote the carbon neutral status of the Cousin Island Special Reserve and to share tips on energy saving with fair attendees.
Since 2010, the organization has embarked on a journey to make Cousin Island carbon neutral. “Simply put, we are investing in carbon credits to offset our carbon footprint,” Kerstin Henri, the Director of Operations explained.
Cousin’s footprint was calculated by looking at the island’s operations, its visitor footprint - calculated as a percentage of visitor travel to Seychelles (this includes international flights, hotel accommodation, and internal transfers) and the carbon absorbed by Cousin’s own forest, which was worked out and netted against the footprint.
The final footprint was then offset through the purchase of credits in clean projects in Darfur - Sudan, Brazil, Indonesia, and now in Uganda. Fees collected from visitors to the island are used to purchase the credits.
“Making Cousin carbon neutral is an important tool that is helping us to market ourselves and Seychelles in a positive manner, especially to those tourists who are choosing eco-friendly destinations and providers,” said Ms. Henri.
Another powerful marketing tool for Seychelles promoted at the Tourism Fair was the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label, a voluntary sustainable tourism management and certification program designed to inspire more efficient and sustainable ways of doing business within the industry.