African tourism en­sur­ing longevity

Cape Times - - NEWS - 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. bet­ter­touris­mafrica.org.

Foat is a travel blog­ger and theatre pub­li­cist

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