SOUTH AFRICA: Environmental clean-up to boost tourism industry

South Africa's new environment minister is contemplating a ban on plastic bags as well as the introduction of a compulsory returnable deposit scheme for glass bottles in a bid to tackle the country's litter problem.

Mohammed Valli Moosa’s cabinet portfolio combines Environment Affairs and Tourism, and Mr Moosa believes that a cleaner South Africa would be more attractive to foreign tourists. Valli Moosa took up his post in June after South African voters returned the African National Congress to power.

On the issue of plastic bags and other litter, he said: “It’s not good enough for companies to produce paper and plastic and bottles and not bother with the garbage it becomes.”

South Africa’s poverty relief programme has funded Valli Moosa’s department to the amount of R70 million. The money is to be spent on a waste management scheme that will deal with issues such as air pollution, litter and the development of waste management systems.

“I have given serious consideration to restricting the use of plastic bags,” said Valli Moosa, “which have virtually become our national flowers – either banning them completely or severely restricting their use.”

Keen to overcome the perception that environmental improvements will put a brake on development, Valli Moosa argued that the tourism industry would benefit from such changes. South Africa has recently agreed a new initiative to market the country as a holiday destination. The tourism industry is expected to grow more quickly than other economic sectors and the government-backed marketing exercise will be undertaken on a global basis.

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