By: Anna Majavu
The Tourism Department’s Green Tourism Investment Programme (GTIP) has opened another round of funding for small tourism establishments grants to install green energy and water systems in their businesses. The grants, of up to R1-million per business, are administered by the Industrial Development Corporation, and applications close on 30 June. They pay between 50% and 90% of the cost of a green energy system and the businesses have to be micro-enterprises with turnovers below R5-million per annum, or small enterprises with turnovers of less than R45-million every year, to qualify.
The department’s acting chief director of communications, Seapei Lebele, told Vutivi News that about 130 tourism businesses had been granted a total of R76-million in GTIP funds since 2017, and the grant paid for a broad range of green energy and electricity storage devices, and water systems. These include rainwater tanks, low flow taps, grey water systems and “energy efficient equipment and appliances such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar/ LED lighting, and gas stoves, and renewable energy generating and storage systems such as solar, wind, backup batteries”, Lebele said.
Each establishment also gets a free energy efficiency audit, which has so far shown that “by implementing energy efficiency measures and switching to renewable energy sources, the majority of enterprises can reduce their operational energy consumption and cost by 50% or more”, she said. The department would not say exactly how many black SMME tourism establishments in the township economy had received funding – only that “a substantial proportion of the beneficiaries are located in the township or rural economies”.
Allan Louw, an owner of the 29-room Cullinan Diamond Lodge in Cullinan, Gauteng, used the grant to install a solar system, replace all light bulbs with electricity-saving LED bulbs, replace all 30 of the lodge’s geysers with heat pumps and switch some of the air conditioners to inverters. “The process was quite easy. Not a lot of things were involved. They send an engineer to investigate where you can save energy. The engineer will tell you what you need to install if you want to save a certain percentage on your electricity bill,” said Louw.
From the first month, after he changed the geysers to heat pumps, he saved between R3000 and R6000 per month on his electricity bill. “Once the solar was installed, I saw a huge difference. I now save between R6000 and R9000 per month,” said Louw. He said green energy had been good for his business in other ways because his conference room ran entirely on solar power. “There is no effect of load-shedding – nothing, which is important because 99% of people who phone for a booking ask me what kind of backup power the conference room has,” he said. All plugs, lights, and fridges in the guesthouse also run on solar power and his ovens run off gas. “I think people should really apply for the grant because it is available so they must make use of the opportunity to serve their clients well and save money. It is also good for the environment”, Louw said.