Africa Responsible Tourism Awards

On April 1st, I chaired the judging of the African Responsible Tourism Awards in Johannesburg with the benefit of the expertise of carefully chosen professionals from throughout the tourism industry in Africa.  Details of the judges can be found here

The judging of the Responsible Tourism Awards always creates and exciting and rewarding day as the judges debate,  back and forth, about who should win and why. It is an exhaustive process, often the difference between winning Gold and winning Silver is small. It is a significant achievement to be shortlisted and those who win medals should all be proud of their achievement.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of a growing family of Responsible Tourism Awards run according to the principles and procedures established by the World Responsible Tourism Awards.

ARTA

Overall Winner: Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya
“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. This in turn furthers the cycle for a sustainable future for community driven wildlife conservation.  Naboisho Conservancy pioneered controlled livestock grazing and holistic rangeland management. The co-existence between wildlife and cattle, where the interests of wildlife and traditional Maasai livestock practices are mutually respected and genuinely integrated is remarkable. The term ‘Naboisho’ literally means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language and this is exactly what Naboisho Conservancy represents.”

Best for Beach Tourism Gold Winner: Nkwichi Lodge
“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 Award winner Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Malawi is completely solar powered and plastic-bottle free. It is the engine behind sustainable agriculture and aquaculture farms where skills are built and produce for the lodge and community cultivated, a maternity clinic, schools and boarding house for girls, a range of community enterprises that generate income and reduce travelling distances, and community sport teams and events that also celebrate local culture.”

Best for Beach Tourism: Innovation  Gold Winner: Shark Spotters
“Shark Spotters’ 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. This pioneering and innovative approach netted a Gold Award.  Spotters positioned on the mountainsides surrounding swimming beaches look out for sharks near shore and use a series of flags as a warning system. Community members benefit from employment and skills development, and beachgoers get to learn about sharks and their place in the ecology.”

Silver Winner: Baobab Beach Resort
“The judges appreciated the wide range of in-house environmental management practices that reduce water and energy use and help to manage waste at Baobab Beach Resort. 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.”

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Best Contribution to Cultural Heritage Conservation

Gold Winner: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve|
“The Gold Award went to Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, custodian of over 130 unique San rock art sites. At its heart Bushmans Kloof is about the conservation of this remarkable heritage and culture. Over the past few months Bushmans Kloof has been one of the main sponsors of a unique troupe of dancers from Wupperthal – a small, impoverished village in the area. Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers has not only been reviving the art of the Rieldans – a traditional dance form – but has also placed Wupperthal on the world map – taking the 2015 World Champions of the Performing Arts by storm.” |

Silver winners: Segera Retreat  &  Wilderness Safaris
“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.”

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Best Operator for People with Disabilities

Silver winners: ATKV Goudini Spa Flamingo Tours
“Equitable access to holidays for people of all abilities and incomes remains a big issue in Africa. The judges’ decision not to award a Gold in this category reveals that much work still needs to be done in the tourism sector.  However, there are two Silver Awards. The judges recognised that 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.”

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Best for Poverty Reduction

Gold Winner: !Xaus Lodge
“The judges were particularly pleased to see so many worthy entries on the longlist for this category, as in the World Awards, competition is tough. More and more businesses understand the importance of using tourism to address poverty, in the Awards more emphasis is now being placed on the evidence which businesses can provide of their positive impacts. The Gold Award went to !Xaus Lodge a community-owned, commercially managed lodge in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The judges were 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 WinnersChitabe Camp & Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures & Simien Lodge
“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.”

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Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment

Gold Winner:  Spier
“The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff. This was a strong longlist reflecting the progress being made in raising employment standards by an increasing number of businesses. 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 WinnersChobe Game Lodge & Leriba Hotel
“Silver Awards went to Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana and Leriba Hotel in Gauteng, South Africa. The judges were 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.”

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Best Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign

Gold Winner: Great Plains Conservation
“In the Marketing Campaign category the judges looked for an example of a company which had run a successful campaign. 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.

There were businesses on the longlist which use Responsible Tourism well in their marketing but there were none to which a Silver could be awarded for a particular campaign.”

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Best for Public Policy and/or Support

Gold winner:  National Department of Tourism, South Africa
“It is 20 years since the new post-apartheid government in South Africa adopted Responsible Tourism as a fundamental part of its national tourism strategy recognising that tourism has a responsibility to make a significant contribution to making South Africa a better place to live in and uplifting the quality of life, particularly of the disadvantaged and economically poor. This was recognised in the Cape Town Declaration of 2002 which launched the Responsible Tourism movement internationally. This Public Sector Policy category was designed to focus attention on those government agencies which have adopted clear policy frameworks to encourage tourism businesses to take more responsibility – we placed less emphasis on “support” because tourism businesses too often look for financial incentives or subsidies. In a period when, internationally, governments generally have been reluctant to regulate, progress in securing private sector engagement and compliance has been slow although some businesses have contributed a great deal, many have failed to respond to the challenge.

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 winners: City of Cape Town & Ministry of Tourism, Morocco
Silver went to the City of Cape Town and Morocco. 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

Joint Gold Winners Mara Naboisho Conservancy & Ol Pejeta Conservancy
“The Wildlife Conservation category had a very strong range of initiatives on the longlist many of them outstanding. This year the judges focussed on wildlife conservation initiatives which use tourism to benefit local communities and to conserve wildlife rather than on tourism businesses which contribute to conservation. There were two Gold Award winners in the category both in Kenya and both conservancies:  Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

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 WinnerConservation Travel Foundation
“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.”

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People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism

Winner: Marine Dynamics

“Voted for entirely by the public, the People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism Award allows members of the public to vote for the most inspiring category winner from 2015. Winner 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.”

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For more information on the African Responsible Tourism Awards and the sponsors visit

For the list of Finalists go to

 

 

 

 

 

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Harold Goodwin