South Africa’s tourism is about to change, as Robben Island is preparing to shift from diesel generated electricity to solar produced power, in the course of the current financial year.

Renowned for its history, Robben Island is one of the world’s leading tourist attraction sites. It holds the prison cell contributing to Nelson Mandela’s 27 years behind bars with various iconic figures such as the late Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada to name a few.

Robben Island’s decision to pilot solar energy was carried upon by the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, in a media briefing at the 2015/16 Budget Vote. The briefing took place at the Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town, on Thursday 14 May.

Presuming its success, this magnifying programme will see Robben Island roll out solar power to the 2015 International Garden of the year winner, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden as well as South African National Parks and world heritage sites.

“The Department of Tourism will leverage the 2015/16 budget of R1.8-billion to create job opportunities and implement programmes that will take the sector forward in an inclusive and sustainable manner.” – says the Tourism Minister, Mr. Derek Hanekom.

An additional R368 million is set to be budgeted for tourism incentives such as this in the following years.

This is a Tourism Incentive Programme aimed at advancing transformation in the sector, growing enterprises and developing tourism.

A 66% growth figure in tourism arrivals was recorded between 2013 and 2014, this is to show that tourism plays a vital role in improving the lives of South Africans.  This rectifying programme will help tourism create job opportunities, it’ll also look to strengthen the economy to aim higher than 2014’s successful 9.4% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure.

During the Freedom Month (April), the Google Cultural Institute took a tour inside Robben Island’s prison cells. This interesting moment caught on video resulted in the Tourism figures escalating. Tourists visit the site to further their understanding about the history of the place. Eskom’s load-shedding will not affect their journey as there’ll be solar power intact.

Robben Island’s shift to solar power is a change towards the future. The Department of Tourism aims to reach 12 million tourists by 2017/18 and increasing holidaymakers from 2014’s 2.8 million to 4.1 million by 2020.

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