As you know, ethical travel is very close to my green heart and it is a topic I write about whenever I can to draw awareness to sustainability and conservation, be it through tourism, purchasing decisions or eco lifestyle choices in general.
I was therefore thrilled to be able to cover the African Responsible Tourism Awards that celebrate inspiring and enduring responsible tourism experiences throughout Africa. The ceremony was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) at World Travel Market Africa, that ran 18-20 April 2018.
(The original version of this article was placed in Cape Times News on Friday 20 April 2018)
Winners of the African Responsible Tourism Awards announced at World Travel Market
Wilderness Safaris, operator of safari camps, lodges and experiences in seven African countries, was announced as the Overall Winner at the African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA) held at World Travel Market Africa on Wednesday 18 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Founded in 2015 by Better Tourism Africa, the Responsible Tourism Awards rest on the principle that all types of tourism, across the board, should preserve, respect and benefit local people and destinations. They aim ‘to shine a light on the best of the best, and to inspire change in the African tourism industry.’
To this end, candidates with the most inspiring and enduring responsible tourism experiences are sought across the continent and honoured at the annual event at WTM.
Speaking before Ministers, VIP officials, tourism professionals and the media, Heidi van der Watt, MD of Better Tourism Africa explained that “our winners link business with the wellbeing of local people and the longevity of their environments – it’s about communicating bottom lines that balance people, planet and profit without undermining sustainability in the pursuit of superior product quality”.
The judges this year were impressed by Wilderness Safari’s success in significantly driving down the consumption of bottled water and the subsequent low carbon footprint achieved through a reduction in plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
In keeping with global trends towards sustainable and ethical tourism practices, the African Responsible Tourism Awards, sponsored by Wesgro, is one of the key events at WTM Africa that form part of the Responsible Tourism Programme at WTM Africa that offers panel discussions on new business models in sustainable tourism, issues around wildlife and tourism and a panel on carbon, water and certification.
Organisations were shortlisted in five categories this year and the winners are as follows: Best for Global Goals and Reporting: Wilderness Safaris (Gold), Spier (Silver), Basecamp Explorer Kenya (Highly Commended); Best for Decent Work and Social Inclusion: PEAK East Africa (Silver) and Spier (Silver); Best for Aquatic Species and Habitat Conservation: North Island (Gold), Marine Dynamics (Silver), All Out Africa (Highly Commended); Best Responsible Cultural Experience: Basecamp Explorer Kenya (Silver), Nande Junias Explorer Cultural Tours (One To Watch), Abang Africa Travel (One To Watch); Best for Innovation in Water Management: Wilderness Safaris (Silver).
The judging panel consisted of nine experts in the field of responsible tourism, namely Thembi Kunene-Msimang, CEO – Acting and Executive of Marketing and Communications, RETOSA; Professor Harold Goodwin, Emeritus Professor Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Founder of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism; Darryl Erasmus, Chief Quality Assurance Officer, South African Tourism; Dr. Alison Kock, Marine Biologist, SANParks; Chardonnay Marchesi, Portfolio Director of the Travel, Tourism and Sports: Reed Exhibitions; Greg McManus, Heritage Environmental Management Company and Event Greening Forum; Sadia Nanabhay, Operations Manager, African Responsible Tourism Awards; Dawn Robertson, CEO, The Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct and Heidi van der Watt, Managing Director of Better Tourism Africa, and the Institute of Development Studies, Massey University.
Invaluable support of the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards:
- WESGRO @Wesgro – Headline sponsor
- Bulk SMS @BulkSMS – Category sponsor: Best for Global Goals Reporting
- Cape Whale Coast @Cape_WhaleCoast – Function sponsor
- Singer Group – Accommodation sponsor
- MLT Corp @MLTcarhiretour – Car hire sponsor
- Responsible Traveller @RespTraveller – Category sponsor: Best for Marine Habitat and Species Conservation
World Travel Market (WTM), a leading global event for the travel industry, was launched in London in 1980, attracting 350 exhibitors and 7,753 trade visitors. Today, worldwide, WTM boasts six annual business to business events across four continents and through year-round content and digital tools, creates the best local and international opportunities for travel industry professionals to network, learn and find commercial opportunities that contribute to a successful travel industry in their regions.
WTM Africa, following flagship events WTM London and Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, is now in its fourth year and takes place annually at the CTICC, bringing together approximately 5000 travel industry professionals at Africa’s only B2B exhibition for inbound and outbound Africa travel and tourism markets.
For more information on the Responsible Tourism Awards and the new categories for 2019 visit www.bettertourismafrica.org