Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of Africa's biggest tourism draws

Tourism Department on Tuesday urged all eligible tourism enterprises to participate in the Green Tourism Incentive Program (GTIP), with the application window opening on January 25 until March 31.

For this financial year, the department has allotted R199,151,179 to distribute among the successful applicants.

The call to participate in GTIP is in response to the challenges faced by the country's tourism sector, including elevated electricity costs, heightened strain on the national energy grid, instances of load shedding, and prevailing scarcity and drought conditions.

The department said the GTIP program already assisted 173 tourism businesses nationwide at a cost of R104,285,673 and another 419 applications are at various stages of processing.

The solutions that were installed as part of this program helped reduce input costs and increase operational sustainability and competitiveness.

The department asked all the private players in the tourism sector to adopt sustainable solutions for management and use of water and electricity.

"This program is one that I am most proud of that the department is able to offer the tourism sector where by going green, tourism establishments are able to offer an uninterrupted visitor experience and ensure that the sector can continue to operate despite energy and water constraints," Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said as per SA News.

"This initiative is also vital to our efforts to adapt and mitigate to the impacts of climate change by helping businesses use water wisely and use clean forms of energy thereby reducing carbon emissions," she added.

The minister went on to urge all the private businesses to support the department in order to keep the tourism sector green in South Africa.

Some private businesses also shared success stories of this program.

Mehlomakulu Mehlomakulu from Fort Hook Guesthouse in Phelandaba outside Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape said this program had helped to install solar panels that is used for heating geysers, cooking and pumping of water from the borehole, resulting in increased bookings.

Anthony Maitland, the owner of Teniqua Tree Tops Guesthouse situated between Thatchfield and Knysna, said, "The water pumping system in my guesthouse as well as frequent load shedding in the area used to be a huge problem until the installation of solar panels which is assisting with the water pumping system as well as curbing load shedding in my guesthouse."

"I am now at ease to operate the business without any fear of energy outages. I can recommend this program to emerging and existing tourism establishments," he added.

The department said it has worked closely with the Industrial Development Corporation, which manages the funding applications and approvals for the program, to develop the GTIP for the sector to ensure an enhanced and uninterrupted visitor experience for tourists.

Two months back, the tourism department announced that it is all set to collaborate with Google to improve South Africa's use of technology in promoting its tourism offering.