South African Tourism launched EcoThanda, its first-of-a-kind Sustainable Meetings Directory, at the Haworth Inc. showroom in Washington DC on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Marthinus Van Schalkwyk unveiled this major green initiative for the Business Tourism sector at an eco-friendly reception hosted by South African Tourism in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry.
The directory is an online listing of South African suppliers whose products and services have been vetted and approved for sustainable practices by an independent consultant, National Geographic’s Costas Christ, employing world recognized criteria. “This directory was developed in response to the demand from the meetings and incentives industry for more sustainable alternatives,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk. “Our goal is 200 suppliers in the first year, and we expect this to number to grow as we expand our outreach for the program.”
Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela, Director-General in the National Department of Tourism, South African Tourism CEO Ambassador Thandiwe January-Mclean, South African Tourism CMO Roshene Singh and Sthu Zungu, president of South African Tourism, North America, along with guests from the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), the Africa Chamber of Commerce and association executives were all present for the launch.
“This online platform is dedicated to offering incentive buyers information to make greener, more sustainable choices from the property offerings available in South Africa,” stated Sthu Zungu. “The directory is a first of its kind in the MICE world and once fully rolled out will create a point of difference for South Africa few other destinations will be able to match.”
South African Tourism went to some lengths to ensure a green evening for the launch. The venue, Haworth inc. is a global leader in the design and manufacture of organic workspaces, and the showroom was given a LEED Gold designation by the US Green Building council.