Winners of African Responsible Tourism Awards announced

Africa RT awards

The winners of this year’s awards were announced at WTM Africa in Cape Town on Thursday 7th April. They are as follows:

Overall Winner

Mara Naboisho Conservancy

Judges’ comment: “Prior to setting up Naboisho Conservancy, four years of consultation with the 554 landowners lead to 94% of them signing over their land to a holding company with their own appointed directors who have in turn entered into a management agreement with Naboisho Conservancy. The community gets direct and tangible benefits from wildlife conservation; no other activity provides as much income to as many people as Naboisho Conservancy. With these direct benefits there is less need for the community to rely on other destructive practices such as intensive farming and over grazing by too many cattle.”

Best for Beach Tourism

Gold Winner: Nkwichi Lodge

Judges’ comment: “To help bring the world’s most biodiverse freshwater lake and a 120 000 ha of lakeshore and escarpment under formal protection – in partnership with 16 villages – are remarkable achievements.”

Gold Winner (Innovation): Sharkspotters

Judges’ comments: “Sharkspotter’s solution to safe beaches removes the fear factor from enjoying Cape Town’s beaches while working to protect sharks, particularly the Great White Shark – a globally threatened species.”

Silver Winner: Baobab Beach Resort

Judges’ comments: “Efforts to protect children from exploitation, conserve the coastal forest environment, reach out to communities through tours for guests and a weekly village market, contributed to a Silver Award.”

Best Contribution to Cultural Heritage Conservation

Gold Winner: Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve

Judges’ comments:“The Gold Award went to Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve, custodian of over 130 unique San rock art sites. At its heart Bushman’s Kloof is about the conservation of this remarkable heritage and culture.”

Silver Winner: Segera Retreat

Silver Winner: Wilderness Safaris

Judges’ reasons for winning: “Silver Awards went to Segera Retreat in Kenya for the range of traditional cultures with which travellers can authentically engage to the benefit of local livelihoods and the conservation of diverse cultures and to Wilderness Safaris for their efforts, since 2011, to ensure that their safari camps express and present the cultural heritage of the local communities.”

Best Operator for People with Disabilities

Silver Winner: ATKV Goudini Spa
Silver Winner: Flamingo Tours

Judges’ reasons for winning: “ATKV Goudini Spa sets a good example of creating an accessible leisure environment not only for people with mobility limitations, but also people who are blind and deaf. The resort’s relationship with the disabled community is admirable. And the affordability of the product is especially important for a people who are burdened by significant financial constraints. Similarly, Flamingo Tours caters for a wide spectrum of functional limitations, and like ATKV Goudini Spa, is very committed to run an operation that does not harm the environment. “

Best for Poverty Reduction

Gold Winner: !Xaus Lodge

Judges’ comments: “particularly impressed by both the scale of the contribution and the transparent quantification of the economic and social benefits flowing to the economically poor and marginalized communities of the Khomani San and Mier from their lodge.“

Silver Winner: Chitabe Camp

Silver Winner: Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures

Silver Winner: Simien Lodge

Judges’ comments:“There were three Silver Awards reflecting the strength of the longlist in this category. Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta was recognised for its commitment to raising the living standards of their employees to ensure that their whole family is raised out of poverty through higher than inflation annual salary increases, annual school education donations and generous profit share pay outs. Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures has made a major contribution to local livelihoods and poverty reduction over many years and by involving Basotho stakeholders created opportunities for communities to proudly showcase their unique cultural practices, engaging with guests in an authentic manner, thereby earning their respect. The Simien Lodge in the remote Simien Mountains National Park of Ethiopia has adopted a broad approach to addressing poverty by improving livelihood standards and education, by encouraging creativity in sports and contributing to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage, consistently addressing local issues identified by the community.”

Best for Accommodation for Responsible Employment:

Gold Winner: Spier

Judges’ comments: “The Gold went to Spier in the Western Cape of South Africa for the transparent reporting and the breadth of their approach to improving the employment conditions of their staff ranging from addressing the issue of safety on public transport to their provision of Individual Learning Spend budgets to support the development of skills and knowledge, for personal development and innovation for the employee and their family for example by using it to pay school fees.”

Silver Winner: Chobe Game Lodge
Silver Winner: Leriba Hotel

Judges’ comments: “impressed by the breadth of the approach being taken to improving employment conditions of the staff at Chobe Game Lodge and in particular by their success in addressing gender issues, with a full team of 14 female guides. At Leriba Hotel & Spa there is a broad commitment to upliftment, training and recognition. The Green Diamonds initiative was created when Leriba Hotel Group identified the need to empower its employees above the standard legal requirements. The judges were particularly impressed by their ABET centre which provides continuous staff development training.”

Best Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign

Gold Winner: Great Plains Conservation

Judges’ comments:“The judges gave the Gold Award to Great Plains Conservation operating in Botswana and Kenya for their success in raising awareness of the importance of conservation through traditional and social media and in converting the public into ambassadors for wildlife. In just one talk in 2015 in China the Jouberts reached 195 million and Great Plains Conservation’s social media channels are followed by over 1.5 million daily.”

Best for Public Policy and/or Support

Gold Winner: National Department of Tourism, South Africa

Judges’ comments: “The National Department of Tourism in South Africa won Gold for its steadfast commitment over 20 years to the principles of the 1996 white paper, the legislative and policy work and support programmes which have flowed from it, including the Responsible Tourism Standard, Tourism Incentive Programme and the adoption and application of Responsible Tourism principles by provinces and cities and by agencies like SANParks.”

Silver Winner: City of Cape Town

Silver Winner: Ministry of Tourism, Morocco

Judges’ comments: “The 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations took place in Cape Town in 2002 and there have been many initiatives to encourage businesses to respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges experienced in the City. In Morocco the Ministry of Tourism has secured support from other government departments, local authorities and the private sector for its Vision 2020. Based on a multi-stakeholder process, using UNEP’s Sustainable Consumption and Production approach, the Ministry of Tourism has taken the lead and created the policy framework – it remains to be seen how the industry responds.”

Best for Wildlife Conservation

Gold Winner: Mara Naboisho Conservancy

Gold Winner: Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Judges’ comments: “The judges recognised that these are two outstanding examples of how tourism can be used by conservationists to protect habits and species and to uplift local communities. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy has increased lion density and providing 142 jobs, secure income to 554 local Maasai households and further indirect benefits to ~10,000 local people. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy still maintains a herd of 6,000 beef cattle, it is one of the few conservancies in the world able to cover almost all of its basic operating costs (US$ 6 million) through its own, sustainable, commercially generated revenues from tourism and agriculture.”

Silver Winner: Conservation Travel Foundation

Judges’ comments:“Silver went to the Conservation Travel Foundation, a non-profit organization in partnership with and supported by Ultimate Safaris in Namibia for its innovative Conservation Safaris where guests pay a premium in exchange for the privilege of being able to interact with those involved in local conservation projects, and get satisfaction from making a significant contribution to conservation”.

People’s Choice

Winner: Marine Dynamics:

Judges’ comments: “Marine Dynamics provide very high quality shark cage diving experiences. They are industry leaders, a commercial operation which operates to the highest conservation standards, where every trip has a marine biologist aboard to provide interpretation and collect data for scientific research. An operator that makes a significant contribution to conservation and the local economy.”

Travindy
Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive. We take no advertising, and will always be 100% free to use.

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