African tourism ensuring longevity
‘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