14 February 2013 by Julienne du Toit

A responsible wonder of nature

This is responsible tourism week, and a great time to celebrate the green credentials of one of South Africa’s most popular attractions.

The famous Table Mountain cableway

Of all South Africa’s attractions, Table Mountain must be among the most prominent, especially now that it is classed among the New7Wonders of Nature.

It is the Cableway’s project to educate children on the wonders of the mountain that might have the most far-reaching legacy.

It is also part of a World Heritage Site and a national park. As a result, of all the tourism operations on or near it, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway must be one the most visible and scrutinised. So it seems entirely appropriate that the company operating it has impeccable environmental credentials.

In 2010, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway became the first tourism attraction in South Africa to attain the prestigious platinum rating from the Heritage Environmental Management Company.

On top of Table Mountain, food is served on compostable tableware, just in case it blows away

In 2011, the company was the overall winner in the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism.

In 2012, it announced it had managed to reduce the waste being brought down from the top of the mountain from 203 tons to 77. Waste is sorted for recycling into special bins and, where possible, handed over to craft projects to ‘upcycle’.

The top of the mountain has a very delicate ecology, which is why the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway now offers only compostable dinnerware. Just in case a plate blows away in a gust of wind....

Water from basins is reused to flush toilets, resulting in great savings in water use

Water is critical, and the company has managed to cut down on waste by reusing water from the handbasins to flush toilets.

But it is the Cableway's project to educate children on the wonders of the mountain that might have the most far-reaching legacy. Since 2001, the company has taken 231 500 children up the mountain for its programme called Class in the Clouds. Here disadvantaged children who would never normally have the opportunity to explore the top of Table Mountain are shown around by a guide and taught about the fynbos ecosystem and small animals.

The rate of recycling atop Table Mountain improved dramatically in 2012

Category: Responsible Tourism

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