Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes the award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa:
“Our winners have a vision that extends beyond the commercial – linking business success with the wellbeing of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate balance sheets alongside beliefs, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism in Africa.”
Harold Goodwin, chair of the judging panel, said: “All of those longlisted should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved. As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, the judges looked for winners who might educate and inspire others, challenging the industry to achieve more by demonstrating what can be done by businesses and organisations to realise the ambition of responsible tourism. That ambition is simply put: to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. This also benefits the industry: great places to live are great places to visit.
In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the industry needs to recognise that we need to be a lot more transparent about credibly reporting the positive impacts that businesses in the tourism sector have on peoples’ livelihoods and well-being – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards will be announced next month – in this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development there is a particular emphasis on the SDGs.
The judges were mindful of the Awards made in previous years in Africa and in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, of which these African Awards are a part. The gold and silver award winners should be particularly proud of what they have achieved; they have been recognised as being leaders in the responsible tourism movement where more is expected each year.
If when reflecting on the winners of these and the World Responsible Tourism Awards you know of others you feel should be recognised then please encourage them to enter, the judges can only choose from amongst those who enter and complete the extensive application process. We encourage them, and other businesses, to continue to take responsibility for increasing the positive and reducing the negative impacts of tourism; to communicate what they are doing to use tourism to make better places and to consider entering the Responsible Tourism Awards when there is an appropriate category for their business or organisation.”
The awards were sponsored by Wesgro. Tim Harris, chief executive officer of Wesgro, said: “We are pleased to recognise the vision of the Award winners for providing leadership in their respective sectors throughout Africa, and effectively contributing to growing tourism in a sustainable manner. Today, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.”
Overall Winners - supported by Wesgro
This year there were joint overall winners Blood Lions and Coffee Shack.
The ambition of the Responsible Tourism Awards is to educate, inspire and challenge. The Blood Lions campaign demonstrates how awareness raising and engagement can achieve change, successfully engaging the industry though its “Born To Live Wild” campaign. Coffee Shack demonstrates the major positive impact which a small business in a remote rural area can have.
Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion - supported by Better Tourism Africa
Silver: Wilderness Safaris Damaraland Camp (Namibia)
Best for Engaging People and Culture - supported by Transfrontier Parks Destinations
Gold: Ilha Blue Island Safaris (Mozambique)
Silver: Maboneng Arts (South Africa)
Best for Habitat and Species Conservation - supported by Cape Nature
Gold: All Out Africa (Swaziland)
Silver: Wildlife ACT (South Africa)
Best Partnership for Poverty Reduction - supported by Africa Ignite
Gold winner: Isibindi African Lodges
Silver winner: Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge
Best Responsible Event - supported by BulkSMS
Gold winner: MTN Bushfire (Swaziland)
Silver: Tour de Tuli (Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe)
Best Responsible Tourism Campaign - supported by Cape Town Pass
Gold: Blood Lions (South Africa)
Best Tour Operator for Impact in Urban Areas - supported by Marine Dynamics
Gold winner: Uthando (South Africa)