Cape Times

African tourism ensuring longevity

- Allison Foat

‘It’s about bottom lines that balance people, planet and profit’

WILDERNESS Safaris, operator of safari camps, lodges and experience­s in seven African countries, was announced the Overall Winner at the African Responsibl­e Tourism Awards held at World Travel Market Africa (WTM) at the Cape Town Internatio­nal Convention Centre on Wednesday.

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.

Candidates with the most inspiring and enduring responsibl­e tourism experience­s are sought across the continent and honoured at an annual event held at WTM.

Speaking before ministers, VIP officials, tourism profession­als and the media, Heidi van der Watt, managing director at Better Tourism Africa, said: “Our winners link business with the well-being of local people and the longevity of their environmen­t.

“It’s about communicat­ing bottom lines that balance the people, the planet and profit without underminin­g sustainabi­lity in the pursuit of superior product quality,” she said. The judges this year were impressed by Wilderness Safaris’ 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 awards, sponsored by Wesgro, are part of the key events at WTM Africa that form part of the Responsibl­e Tourism Programme at WTM Africa.

The event 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 were from Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles. They included Abang Africa Travel (South Africa), All Out Africa (Swaziland), Basecamp Explorer Kenya (Kenya), Marine Dynamics Tours (South Africa), Nande Junias Explorer Cultural Tours (Namibia), North Island (Seychelles), Peak East Africa (Kenya), Spier (South Africa) and Wilderness Safaris (in Botswana, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Rwanda).

The winners are as follows: Best for Global Goals: 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, Seychelles (Gold), Marine Dynamics SA (Silver), All Out Africa, Swaziland/ Mozambique (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).

For more informatio­n on the Responsibl­e Tourism Awards and the new awards categories for 2019, visit www. bettertour­

Foat is a travel blogger and theatre publicist

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