Robben Island, the prison-turned-tourist-attraction that held Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment amidst the apartheid struggle, has moved to solar energy. The move will reduce Robben Island’s carbon emissions by almost 940 tons.

Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa handed over a solar power plant to the Robben Island Museum (RIM) as part of the Department of Tourism’s mandate to support sustainable and inclusive tourism development.

Minister Tokozile Xasa said, “Preserving our environment and reducing our carbon footprint is critical to the sustainability of the tourism industry. The construction of the solar PV mini-grid on Robben Island is a shining example of what can be achieved when government structures work together to preserve our ecological and cultural tourism assets for future generations.”

She concluded that this collaborative initiative has the capability to engineer sustainable energy solutions and inspires a hope that the business of tourism be conducted in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Chief Executive Officer for RIM, Mava Dada said that the initiative was an incredible advancement for Robben Island and explained, “Prior to the construction of the solar plant, we relied solely on expensive diesel generators to provide electricity on the Island. This transition will see the island largely powered by the solar plant. This will reduce the Island’s carbon emissions by almost 940 tons per year.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development– inviting a dedicated focus on tourism’s ability to contribute to economic growth, social inclusion, cultural and environmental preservation, peace and mutual understanding. South Africa is readying itself for these new age destination selection filters.

“Responsible tourism is everyone’s business, with an immense potential to increase our country’s global competitiveness and I urge the industry to embrace the Green Tourism Incentive Programme and help us build a sustainable and inclusive tourism sector,” said Xasa.