Wilderness Safaris, operator of safari camps, lodges and experiences in seven Africa countries, was announced Overall Winner this afternoon at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2018 in Cape Town, sponsored by Wesgro.
Says Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel. “All of those longlisted should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved. As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards the judges looked for winners who might educate and inspire others, challenging the industry to achieve more by demonstrating what can be done by businesses and organisations to realise the ambition of Responsible Tourism. That ambition is simply put: to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. This also benefits the industry: great places to live are great places to visit.
The Global Sustainable Development Goals are now the touchstone for both governments and private sector; action by businesses will be critical to attaining the targets set for 2030. The tourism industry needs to recognise that we must be a lot more transparent about credibly reporting the positive impacts that businesses in the tourism sector have on peoples’ livelihoods and well-being – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards categories will be announced at Arabian Travel Market next week.
The judges were mindful of the Awards made in previous years in Africa and in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, of which these African Awards are a part. The Gold and Silver Award winners should be particularly proud of what they have achieved; they have been recognised as being leaders in a Responsible Tourism movement where more is expected each year.
If when reflecting on the winners of these and the World Responsible Tourism Awards you know of others you feel should be recognised then please encourage them to enter, the judges can only choose from amongst those who enter and complete the application process. We encourage them, and other businesses, to continue to take responsibility for increasing the positive, and reducing the negative, impacts of tourism; to communicate what they are doing to use tourism to make better places and to consider entering the Responsible Tourism Awards when there is an appropriate category for their business or organisation.”
Speaking before a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes the Award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa:
“Our winners have an ethos that extend beyond the commercial – linking thriving business with the wellbeing of local people and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate bottom lines that balance people, planet and profit, and won’t undermine sustainability in the pursuit of superior product quality. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They provide hope and inspiration for the future of tourism in Africa.”
Silver: Marine Dynamics
Marine Dynamics has been awarded many times for its achievements in conserving the African penguins and white sharks and in combatting marine pollution. They have contributed to both the practice and science of marine conservation partnering with national and international universities to understand the ecology of the species and the habitat. The judges were impressed by the continuing commitment to using tourism to fund conservation science and the success of practical interventions through the penguin sanctuary and the penguin nesting boxes. Marine Dynamics has long been educating the domestic and international tourists it attracts about the importance of conserving marine species and encouraging them to contribute to their conservation. This Award recognises their continuing and growing success in the battle to conserve marine life and in particular their DEEP three-year environmental education programme with young learners, the 3000 children in their outreach programmes and the 30,000 reached through their annual competition.
“The award highlights the work of the company and the team in terms of our commitment to the environment and community but more than that it highlights the plight of the species we work with. It puts the great white shark and the endangered African penguin on an international stage helping raise awareness of these iconic species that need our protection. We are inspired by other winners and the work they do and we hope to inspire other tourism companies to follow more responsible tourism initiatives.” _ Wilfred Chivell, Ceo, Marine Dynamics