World Responsible Tourism Awards: the Judges’ Reasons

World Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

Organised by WTM, London

To become a Finalist in the World Responsible Tourism Awards is a significant achievement, it marks you out as a leader in Responsible Tourism; it carries a responsibility to exercise leadership. The purpose of the WRTA is to inspire, educate and challenge. Our purpose in organising the Awards has not changed since they were launched back in 2004 – we want to encourage change in the industry, to single out for recognition those who are taking responsibility and can evidence that they are having a positive impact, that they are making tourism better.  The bar for winning a World Responsible Tourism Award rises every year reflecting the progress which is being made by some in the sector.

Overall Winner

Barcelona quickly moved beyond denial and recognised that tourism needed to be managed if the interests of residents and visitors were to be addressed and balanced. Since 2012 overtourism has become a widespread major challenge for urban and rural destinations around the world more often addressed in the mainstream media and on social media than in the travel trade. Barcelona recognised the challenge earlier than most and clearly separated the functions of promotion and management shifting resources from the former to the latter. The judges chose Barcelona as the overall winner in this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards because of the importance of the issue and the range of management methods which Barcelona has used to address the challenge. Their experience has the potential to educate, inspire and challenge other destinations to respond to the issue and do more.

Best for Wildlife

The judges were looking for leadership in Responsible Tourism policies and practices where clear positive impacts can be shown on the conservation of species or on animal welfare; proven achievements, including demonstrable measures of success and novel ideas that can be adapted and developed by tourism providers around the world. The judges are particularly interested in nominations that focus on improving wildlife conservation and animal welfare in wild or natural settings. This may include fenced sanctuaries or rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction programmes with demonstrable evidence of successful reintroduction, but does not extend to zoos or other purely captive (or captively-bred) animal experiences.

This category combined the conservation of species and animal welfare – it was always likely that the category would produce two Gold Awards.

World Animal Protection  Gold

World Animal Protection has a clear strategy at the heart of their work: educate and mobilise public support through compelling, evidence-based campaign communications, so as to  engage and influence the travel industry as intermediaries to stop promoting and financially supporting cruel wildlife activities, as well as governments to adopt, improve and enforce policy and legislation. They work with both to catalyse sustainable solutions on the ground. The judges recognise the success of their Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign. They have moved from awareness raising and encouraging tourists to make informed choices, to tackling demand from tour operators. They have encouraged the sector to listen to the evidence and to lead rather than to wait for a consensus to develop. They now have over 200 travel companies taking responsibility by no longer selling elephant entertainment.

Fringe Ford Wayanad, Kerala, India Gold

Fringe Ford is a former cardamom and coffee plantation stretching over 1000 acres, 520 acres of which have now been rewilded. The fences with the Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forests have been removed creating a borderless reserve of Malabar rainforest and creating a wildlife corridor between reserves.  There are just five rooms, a very low impact wilderness guesthouse. The only activities offered in the wilderness reserve are guided walks. The Travancore flying squirrel, Nilgiri marten, Lion-tailed macaque, Brown palm civet and the Nilgiri langur can all be seen in the reserve along with elephants, gaur, tiger and leopard. The regular presence of wildlife enthusiasts and fieldwork students in the forest has significantly reduced poaching, cannabis cultivation and illicit liquor manufacture. The guesthouse has grid hydroelectricity; grey water is cleaned through a reed bed, brown water goes into septic soak pits. All the staff are from local villages, fresh fruit and vegetables come from the villages, spices and honey come from the local tribal co-operative in the village. Fringe Ford won Gold in the India Responsible Tourism Awards in 2018 – the World Awards judges wanted to recognise the significance of this rewilding initiative in India, a conservation strategy more common in Africa. This is an example of tourism being used to achieve conservation objectives.

Wildlife ACT, Africa Silver

Monitoring and data collection is essential to conservation, only if you have the data can you know whether or not the species or habitat is being effectively conserved. Wildlife ACT (the Africa Conservation Team) is ten years old this year, and the judges wanted to recognise the cumulative contribution that they have made to conservation, working in partnership with conservation practitioners in Botswana, Seychelles and South Africa. Their volunteers, some of the very few real eco-tourists, have been instrumental in helping to collect the data required to make informed decisions about the effective conservation of endangered and threatened African wildlife species. Wildlife Act was able to provide considerable detail on the volume and impact of their work. The volunteers play an active role in genuine conservation in daily wildlife monitoring, rescuing and treating animals caught in snares, translocating animals to other reserves and essential data collection to inform management decisions.


Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society – one to watch
For more than 20 years SLWCS has, through research, education and sustainable economic development, been working to bring about a more harmonious co-existence between humans and elephants. They are carrying out long-running scientific research, collecting critical data about elephant movement, feeding patterns, and other indicators of their health and impact on local villagers. They have taken a wide range of initiatives to achieve their conservation objectives: solar powered fencing, growing oranges as a buffer crop and bee-keeping and the 24-passenger EleFriendly Bus, launched in 2016, which enables children to get safely to school through an ancient elephant corridor.

Best for Employment

The judges were looking for businesses with a demonstrated commitment to, and a clear emphasis on, decent and fair working conditions and with recruitment practices which are either demonstrably based on equality of opportunity or practising positive discrimination. The winner will be able to demonstrate a holistic approach to the welfare and skills development of its staff and a commitment to employing local people and upskilling them. If you have evidence of progression through the company and beyond as employees leave to find promotion beyond your business, please include it.

Intrepid Group Colombo Gold
The judges have long been looking for applications which calibrate their remuneration against the national minimum wage, and Intrepid Colombo has done that. In Sri Lanka, the minimum wage for tour leaders is set at LKR 2500 per day. Intrepid’s salary range for leaders is LKR 4,000-5,750 per day, plus allowances and an annual bonus. The national minimum wage in Sri Lanka is LKR 10,000 per month, Intrepid’s lowest-paid staff member is paid LKR 27,000 per month. They also provide health insurance, paternity and additional maternity leave, 14 days annual leave, five days of educational leave per year; and a guaranteed annual festive bonus. Staff also have the opportunity to travel on an educational Intrepid Group trip free of charge anywhere in the world every year.

Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park Silver

Patrick Langmaid, the owner of Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park, is a keen campaigner for the Living Wage, winning the Living Wage Leadership Award for the South West region in 2015. Since 2015 they have paid at least the Real Living Wage to all their staff.  They pay £8.80, plus 20p per hour additional payment paid in a lump at the end of the year, or end of their seasonal contract. This Real Living Wage is £1.62 per hour more than the minimum Living Wage and Mother Ivey’s pay above the Real Living Wage.  The end of contract bonus helps seasonal workers’ transition between jobs or benefits. The owner cites productivity, loyalty and staff retention as important factors which translate into an overall cost benefit for the business. Staff retention increases the resilience of the staff and reduces training costs.  Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park is the only accredited Living Wage campsite in the UK. Cornwall is not a wealthy county and investing in the tourism industry to provide high-quality seasonal jobs, and all year-round jobs have had a positive impact on the locale.


Best for Communicating Responsible Tourism

The judges were looking for businesses able to demonstrate the way in which they have successfully used their responsible business approach as part of their marketing or campaigns able to show a degree of success in addressing a tourism or tourism-related issue.

This category combined marketing and cause-related campaigning – it was always likely that the category would produce two Gold Awards.


TUI UK & Ireland Gold
TUI UK & Ireland have given the same marketing weight to TUI’s ‘Better holidays, better world’ as their other five key messages. They have embedded better business’ storytelling and experiences into the core brand and by doing so have put responsible tourism at the heart of their offer. In 2017 TUI’s market research revealed that consumers are critical of the lack of information and choice around sustainability and that two-thirds of holidaymakers are prepared to make lifestyle trade-offs for ecological and social sustainability. The TUI UK Board approved marketing guidelines for sustainability which have put sustainable and responsible tourism communications to customers via all owned marketing channels including blogs, social media, retail brochures, inflight & cruise magazines, retail (billboards, radio adverts, posters), SEO, digital marketing, video production and PR – bringing exposure on responsible tourism issues to over 4.5 million TUI customers.

Intrepid Group Nepal Gold    

Intrepid has campaigned on animal-welfare, orphanage tourism, carbon-offsetting, and gender equality. The judges want to recognise their year-long Namaste Nepal campaign run in response to the 2015 earthquake and designed to contribute to rebuilding Nepal faster and stronger. The campaign delivered on fundraising and sales objectives and changed Intrepid’s approach to responsible business, showing how to work with NGOs after a crisis to create shared value. Intrepid facilitated Nepal trips in the year after the earthquake for 88% of the number carried in 2014, the year before the quake. In 2017 they carried 36% more than in 2014. The campaign raised AU$750,000, including dollar-for-dollar match funding in the emergency appeal and the commitment to returning all profits to the country. Following a damage assessment of the trekking route, more than 80 improved heating stoves were installed in teahouses and lodges along the Langtang Valley trek, 20 households on the Gosainkunda Trek Route had solar lighting installed, and three new water purification plants were installed for communities in the area.

Rethink Orphanages Australia Silver
This is an Australian cross-sector network that aims to prevent the unnecessary institutionalisation of children by shifting the way Australia engages with orphans though overseas aid and development. The network comprises over 27 member organisations from international aid and development, tourism, philanthropic, education and faith-based communities and works with stakeholders from a range of sectors including government and media. They use clear and consistent, evidence-based targeted and customised messaging and have contributed to Australia’s decision to regard orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery which has set, the judges believe,  a global precedent for countries with children in institutional care. Intrepid Travel, Projects Abroad and World Challenge have ceased offering visits to orphanages and developed education modules to assist schools in ethically transitioning away from orphanage tourism and volunteering.


Best for Local Economic Benefit

The judges were looking for businesses with a demonstrable commitment to local economic development through local sourcing and employment and significant achievements in doing so. We are looking for practices and initiatives that will inspire others and that are replicable across the industry. Our ambition is to showcase great examples of Responsible Tourism in practice and to use them to educate others, including consumers, about what can be achieved and to challenge others to do as well or better.

OneSeed Expeditions  USA Gold
OneSeed Expeditions links exploration with investment to develop a completely local supply chain, incentivizing and educating their partners on Responsible Tourism practices, and using revenue from OneSeed clients to invest in local businesses through microfinance and mentorship. 79 cents of every dollar of revenue is spent on local suppliers including guides, porters, drivers, cooks, and lodges in the local economies where they operate. A further 10% of every dollar of revenue is invested in micro-finance loans to local entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors helping to expand and diversify local economic benefit from tourism. Since 2011 they have invested over $303,000 in six countries with more than 90% of investments supporting women-owned businesses. They have funded 619 loans averaging $560. They partner with local microfinance institutions (MFIs) to lend this seed capital to small-scale entrepreneurs as collateral-free, shared liability microcredit. Microfinance is not seen as a solution to poverty, but rather a tool to empower individuals looking to create opportunities through entrepreneurship. OneSeed publishes detail of the impact of the traveller’s investment on its site:  They won silver in the Best for Poverty Reduction in 2015, the judges recognised that they have significantly grown their programme and their impact since then.


African Ivory Route South Africa Silver
Transfrontier Parks Destinations, which manages the African Ivory Route, has won Best Tour Operator in the World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2017 and in the African Awards won Gold for Poverty Reduction and Silver for People and Culture. They are widely recognised for their pioneering work in making a success of community-owned lodges, taking them effectively to market, upskilling the communities which own the lodges and training and employing community members. In this application, the judges recognise the achievement of creating this functioning trail of cultural and safari camps and the reporting of the substantial economic and social impacts of the African Ivory Route and in particular the microenterprises which it has financed and mentored: Sacred Baleni Salt, Sacred Lake Fundudzi, the Ribola Art Route and with local weaving, furniture, craft and toiletries.

Coconut Lagoon, Kerala, India Silver
Coconut Lagoon is a destination resort in the backwaters of Kerala, an extension of the village of Kumarakom. They have consistently worked to create shared value for the local community, by creating opportunities for local people which go beyond employment and the sourcing of local produce. Sukumari, an old lady from the community, makes a living by weaving and selling screw pine from her shop within the grounds, she makes Rs.10,000 (135USD) per month. Smt. Shantha, the owner of a small tea shop in the village, provides chai from a copper samovar on the old plantation tea canoe within the Coconut Lagoon and a local man is employed as the resident naturalist. All these are examples of creating additional shared value for the local community ( and enhancing the guest experience), in addition to the economic impact of employment and local procurement.

Madi a Thava Limpopo, South Africa Silver
Located in Venda, previously a homeland, Madi a Thava works with the Venda, Tsonga and Lobedo people researching, documenting, presenting and promoting their rich cultural heritage through art and craft. They employ local people and source produce locally; when it was opened the building was renovated by local craftsmen and the furniture was made by a lodge employee. The art and craft of the local people is the attraction and Madi a Thava provides training and support to 30 artisans and craft producers, 9 of whom in 2018 were amongst the 50 artisans shortlisted for the South African National Crafts Competition. Their work is now being extended to the Makuleke people, and they are opening a CraftArt centre at Victoria Yards,and inner city regeneration project in Johannesburg, to enable artisans forom Limpopo to display and sell their work.

International Institute for Environment and Development, Uganda – one to watch
The judges were pleased to see this initiative to raise the earnings from tourism of those who live closest to the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and who consequently suffer significant costs from crop raiding. This UK Darwin Funded Initiative has worked with 14 small enterprises and trained over 300 local people in basket weaving, guiding, carving, horticulture and apiculture. In the final phase of the project, there should be evidence of the impact of the intervention on the livelihoods of the beneficiaries, the judges look forward to seeing it.

Associacio Marques de Pastor . El Cinque LlAC, Catalunya, Spain – one to watch
In the Pyrenees in the Pallars area of Catalonia, a group of rural accommodation providers and other small tourist businesses have come together to create and bring to market El Cinquè Llac, a walking (or cycling) journey that links several “casa rurals” in seven different rural settlements along historical pastoral pathways. For them, “local” refers to the businesses, young people seeking new opportunities, the farming community and those they work with to increase self-esteem and pride in their local area. This is an exciting Responsible Tourism initiative which is growing organically and deserves to be replicated.


Best for Managing Success

The judges were looking for destinations able to demonstrate the way(s) in which they have addressed the challenge of managing success – where there is a risk that the destination or attraction may experience unacceptable change (for hosts or guests) because of the very success of the destination or attraction in attracting visitors. The purpose of the Awards is to educate and inspire. The judges were looking for replicable and inspiring examples of the management measures which can be taken on the supply and demand side to manage success.

Barcelona Gold

Following the Barcelona Olympics tourism to the city grew rapidly, and by 2004 there was critical comment about tourism and sustainability in the city. By 2008 adverse comment was being voiced more regularly in mainstream and social media and long before overtourism became an issue in the elections the Council had approved a Strategic Plan of Tourism. Both the City Council and Turisme de Barcelona have consistently avoided negative and divisive language in discussing the impact of tourism and tourist behaviours in Barcelona emphasising “identity and coexistence”, the imperative to manage tourism better and referring to tourists as temporary residents have framed the discourse since 2008. Barcelona has developed a wide range of demand and supply-side strategies and tools to manage tourism better and to ensure that the city remains a great place to live and to visit. The judges recognise that Barcelona has developed and tested a great many methods of managing tourism to “ensure that tourism fitted better with the needs of the city.”

Kumarakom, Kerala, India  Gold

When Kumarakom was transformed into a tourist destination, the sector offered remunerative employment for local villagers mainly in construction and landscaping. As the resorts and hotels moved into the operational phase employment in the sector fell dramatically as the industry employed semi‐skilled workers from afar. There was considerable ill feeling about the consequences of the growth of tourism with litter and sewage pollution of the backwaters and the filling of paddy fields for building. Kerala increased the regulation of the industry and worked with the panchayats to control and remove waste. The Responsible Tourism programme addressed the environmental challenges and increased the positive socio-economic impacts through encouraging the growing of produce for the industry and creating Village Life Experience tours to improve the visitor experience and ensure that local people had a stake in the industry and benefited from it. There remains some criticism of tourism impacts but the community’s view is now overwhelmingly positive. An extensive household survey in 2015 found that for households not involved in tourism 61% that that tourism had positive impacts (it was 70% for households engaged in tourism). 34% of those not engaged in tourism thought that it had both good and bad impacts, less the 0.5% thought the impacts wholly bad. In Kumarakom tourism has been used to make better places for people to live in and for people to visit and what has been learnt in Kumarakom is now being rolled out across Kerala

National Trust, Northern Ireland – one to watch

At the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede the Northern Ireland region of the National Trust has introduced timed ticketing and carefully managed coach arrivals and departures to prevent overcrowding. Visitor Experience scores dramatically improved as a result – from 56% in July 2016 to 88% for the first 8 months of 2018. The National Trust has employed a Responsible Tourism Manager recognising the need for further action to be taken. The judges recognised the willingness of the National Trust to act to ensure that the quality of the places and the visitor experience will not be undermined by crowding.




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Loving them to Death? Terrestrial & Marine Protected Areasw

Responsible Tourism in Destinations 14
Plymouth 16th-18th September 2018
Tourism and Protected Areas


Limited places available, if you have not already registered please email  

Can we stop Loving them to Death?
From 16-18 September 2018 The University of Plymouth is hosting a small research-oriented conference bringing together those involved in managing tourism in national parks and protected areas, conservationists, tourism businesses, guides and researchers to discuss the management and conservation challenges and the research needs Loving them to death? Published in 1993. The report was a siren call for the dangers posed to wildlife and habitat in Europe’s national parks and protected areas. The challenges were great then, they are larger now: over tourism, plastic pollution, declining habitat quality, loss of species diversity, the growth of the cruise industry and the recreational use of sea and land. This free conference is an opportunity with other professionals to do some thinking and make some new connections – we need to up our game.  There are still opportunities for speakers and posters
For further details and booking information:

If you would like any information about traveling to or staying in Plymouth for this event please contact

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Africa Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

Wilderness Safaris triumphs in the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

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.

Wilderness Safaris took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of finalists gathered from around Africa at a special ceremony at World Travel Market Africa 2018.

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 wellbeing – 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.”

The Awards were sponsored by the Wesgro. Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, said:

“As the proud headline sponsor of the inaugural African Responsible Tourism Awards, Wesgro is delighted to pay tribute to this year’s inspirational winners. As the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we continue to show our commitment to responsible tourism development both in our province and on the African continent.

We are pleased to recognise the vision of the Award winners for providing leadership in their respective sectors throughout Africa, and effectively contributing to growing tourism in a sustainable mannerToday, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.

Read below for the full list of this year’s winners, or log on to to read their stories or watch videos from the Overall Winners.

A photo library of winners images is accessible here.

Overall Winner – Wilderness Safaris (Botswana)

supported by Wesgro

The judges were impressed by the success of Wilderness Safaris in driving down the consumption of bottled water and the consequents savings in plastic waste and the greenhouse gas emissions which result from transporting bottled water. By measuring their use and reporting reductions year on year in their Annual Integrated Report they demonstrated how it is possible to report progress against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Their robust approach to tackling the consumption of bottled water sets an example and challenges the industry to do far more. The industry needs to take much more vigorous action to reduce its water consumption; the resilience of individual businesses and the sector requires it.

Best for Global Goals

supported by BulkSMS

For the Global Goals category, the judges were looking for tourism organisations that leverage tourism to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and then transparently report on the impacts of their responsible tourism efforts.  The SDGs are a set of 17 interconnected transformational goals with 169 related targets that explain what needs to be achieved across social, environmental and economic aspects. Most tourism businesses do not yet acknowledge the private sector as a critical actor in the attainment of the Global Goals or are not fully engaged in tracking or reporting progress against the targets.  To encourage greater rigour in reporting positive change against global sustainable development priorities, this new category will be a standard feature of future African Responsible Tourism Awards.  To determine the winners the judges reviewed the responses of all contenders to a specific question in the application form about the SDGs.

Gold – Wilderness Safaris (Botswana)

Contact:  Tarryn Gibson   I   Email:   I   Twitter: @WeAreWilderness

Wilderness demonstrated that active engagement with the SDGs is their business imperative. There is clear, credible evidence of the alignment between the company’s efforts and the relevant SDGs and specific targets. Performance is transparently reported.

Target 12.6 under SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production encourages companies to adopt sustainability practices AND to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle. As a company listed on both the Botswana and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges, Wilderness Safaris is required to produce an Annual Integrated Report (AIR). The Global Reporting Initiative, widely recognized as best practice for triple bottom line reporting, guides the preparation of the Wilderness Safaris’ AIR. By identifying relevant SDGs and detailing how the business is working to contribute to them, the company goes beyond compliance requirements for listed companies.

The quantification and reporting of performance against indicators is fundamental to the SDGs. Wilderness Safaris’ disclosure of progress against indicators for carbon emissions, water and waste usage and compliance with the Group Environmental Minimum Standards is exemplary.  Furthermore, in addition to reporting on areas of good performance areas of weakness are also indicated. Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to gaining shareholder and stakeholder trust through transparency is noteworthy. The annual report and a consumer and guest-focused version (Sustainability Review) available on the website, and the Sustainability Review in all guest rooms.

Silver – Spier

Contact:  Heidi Newton-King l Email: l Twitter: @spierwinefarm l

External evaluations by the likes of Fair Trade Tourism and the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) have given Spier vast experience in collecting and reporting evidence against a range of sustainability indicators.  This proficiency was evident in a wide-ranging response on the SDG component of the questionnaire. Spier articulated how its work relates to all but one of the 17 Global Goals, supplying credible and well-thought-out examples of how its sustainability efforts link to the SDGs.  The entry clearly shows that the business is skilled at quantifying impact; hence the judges would have liked more clarity on key indicators related to SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Highly commended – Basecamp Explorer

Contact:  Petronilla Gichimu  l  Email:  l Twitter: @basecampexplore  l


Though Basecamp Explorers corporate documents and communication platforms are not explicit on the SDGs, the judges wanted to commend Basecamp Explorer for a comprehensive and sound response to the SDG in the entry.  There is also evidence of quantification of impact. The judges believe that, given specific effort, a good basis for stronger integration of the SDGs in the corporate strategy and future Global Goals reporting is in place.

Decent work and Inclusion

supported by the Singer Group

The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff, and a creative and long-term approach to including local producers in the supply chain.

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Spier

Contact:  Heidi Newton-King  l  Email:  l  Twitter: @spierwinefarm l

Silver: PEAK East Africa

Contact:  Mehalah Beckett l  Email: l  Twitter: @PeakDMC I

Spier in the Western Cape of South Africa and PEAK East Africa in Kenya have much in common when it comes to creating shared business value.  Both businesses demonstrated a comprehensive approach to improving working conditions, including various internal engagement tools, training, employee wellness and health programmes, staff awards and beyond-the-norm employee benefits. A strong commitment to going beyond compliance in relation to pay, health and safety, freedom of association and fostering purposeful work environments is evident at both Spier and PEAK East Africa.   To track achievements, employees are annually asked for feedback and suggestions, and results compared year-to year.  Both achieve exceptionally high staff engagement and positive feedback on the general working environment in these surveys.

Spier’s inclusive business philosophy is actioned through a 30km preferential radius for recruitment, a focus on youth employment, providing internships and sourcing more than 70% of goods and services from the Winelands district and Cape Metro.  The judges thought that allowing staff to spend individual learning budgets on sustainability solutions at home is a constructive and practical way for employees to apply work-based sustainability learnings outside of the workplace.

Extensive engagement with and support for local NGOs spoke volumes for PEAK East Africa’s commitment to an ethos of ‘Purpose beyond Profit’. They contract locally-owned and marginalised suppliers preferentially, and their Supplier Code of Conduct encourages suppliers to operate in a more environmentally and socially responsible way.

Responsible cultural experience

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver – Basecamp Explorer (Kenya)

Contact:   Ginger Green I Email:   marketing@alloutafrica   I   Twitter: @basecampexplore  I

For Basecamp enabling tourist to engage with local people and culture is fundamental to their vision of demonstrating how the conservation of ecosystems requires co-existence between wildlife and humans. They regard consistent support for local people and cultures as fundamental to preserving the heritage of the land to ensure it remains habitable for people and wildlife. By including the cultural aspects of the local Maasai, Basecamp raises the standard of living of the Maasai people and provides a richer better guest experiences for their clients. Basecamp established the Basecamp Maasai Brand (BMB), a community-based handicraft workshop that empowers 158 Maasai women while preserving the traditional Maasai beading practice. As a fair-trade practice, the Maasai women receive about 55 percent of the proceeds which goes towards providing food, clothing and shelter for their families while the remaining 45 percent goes towards management costs and purchase of materials. Basecamp also supports a capacity building program through education sponsorship at Koiyaki Guiding School (KGS).  Over the last 13 years, KGS has trained over 270 students, 20% of whom are young Maasai girls, young Maasai men and women continue to wear their traditional costumes and jewellery.


Ones to watch: the judges wanted to recognise Nande Junias Explorer Tours (Namibia), for his work in developing township tours for community upliftment in Mondesa Township in Swakopmund; and Abang Africa for their new Goedverwacht mission village tour and homestays.

Best for Innovation in Water Management

supported by Better Tourism Africa

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Wilderness Safaris (Southern Africa)

Contact:  Tarryn Gibson   I   Email:   I   Twitter: @WeAreWilderness  I

The judges were looking for innovative and replicable practices with measurable achievement in reducing water consumption. Wilderness Safaris has a Group Environmental Impact System (GEMS) and in 2012 they determined to reduce the consumption of bottled water across their whole operation. They committed earlier than most to reduce plastic water bottle usage by introducing reusable water bottles and reverse osmosis water filtering systems in all their camps. Wilderness Safaris have reduced bottled water consumption across all their camps by 77%. In 2012 they were consuming two litres of bottled water per bed night in Botswana, in 2017 they used an average of 0.23 litres per bednight. This well exceeded their group target of 0.8 litres per bednight. Across the group in 2012 average bottled water consumption was 2.7 litres per bednight by 2017 they had reduced it to 0.46 litres per bednight. Their new group target is 0.4 litres per bednight by 2023.

In addition to its success in reducing the consumption of bottled water Wilderness Safaris is fitting tap aerators, flow restrictors, efficient shower heads, dual flush toilets, recycles grey water, monitors leakages. Further, Wilderness, along with another industry leader in sustainable tourism, is developing benchmark water usage figures for safari camps. The judges were pleased to see the commitment to reduce water bottle use across the whole operation and the consequent reduction in plastic waste and carbon emissions. Water scarcity and security is a major issue in Africa and the judges were surprised and disappointed not to receive more applications addressing water sourcing, the reduction of water use and grey water recycling and the disposal of wastewater.


Best for Aquatic Species & Habitat Conservation

supported by Responsible Traveller

Gold: North Island (Seychelles)

Contact:  Tarryn Retief   I   Email:  I  Facebook: @NorthIslandSeychelles  I

Twenty years ago, North Island was purchased and a set of Conservation Goals – marine, terrestrial and island sustainability – we established. A key goal was to protect the four coastal beaches and safeguard the nesting sites of two species of sea turtles, the Critically-Endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Endangered Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). The turtles have been monitored since 1998 and there has been systematic data collection since 2004. There are daily beach patrols, nest monitoring and tagging and only turtle-friendly light is allowed.  Since 2004 the number of Hawksbills using the island has doubled and the Green Turtles have increased six-fold. North Island now has the highest density of nesting Green Turtles in the inner islands of the Seychelles. The judges were impressed by the success of this luxury resort in increasing the population of turtles and its ambition to become a gazetted marine reserve in pursuit of which biannual scientific marine surveys to quantify the diversity and abundance of reef fish; marine invertebrates; hard and soft corals and predatory species have been conducted since 2011. The resort has a strict Fishing and Menu Policy which precludes the capture of fish known to be either locally or internationally threatened. North Island demonstrates the significant contribution a commercial tourism resort can make to conservation and we hope that it will inspire others to do more.

Silver: Marine Dynamics (South Africa)

Contact:  Brenda du Toit  I  Email:  I   Twitter: @MarineDynamics  I

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.

Highly commended: All Out Africa (Swaziland/Mozambique)

Contact:   Ginger Green I Email:   marketing@alloutafrica   I   Twitter: @alloutafrica  I

In 2017 All Out Africa won Gold for habitat and species conservation in the African Responsible Tourism Awards. This year the judges wanted to commend them for the publication of a paper on the research undertaken through their volunteer and science programme on “Satellite tagging highlights the importance of productive Mozambican coastal waters to the ecology and conservation of whale sharks” and their advances in local educational outreach work.

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2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards longlist revealed

The competition for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards has moved into the second round, with over 15 tourism organisations competing for top spots at the awards ceremony at WTM Africa in April.

Sponsored by WESGRO and organised by Better Tourism Africa, the awards recognise African organisations that offer a shining example of how tourism can benefit the local people, the environment,  and destinations. The awards are part of a family of regional Responsible Tourism Awards which culminate each year with World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London.

This year, the longlist names tourism organisations from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Seychelles and Namibia. Longlisted organisations compete in five categories, among them aquatic habitat and species conservation, good working conditions, cultural experiences and a new category in 2018 – reporting on the Global Goals.

The quality of entries which have made it through to the longlist this year confirms the power of responsible tourism as a force for good in Africa. Each one of these organisations is playing an important role in championing responsible tourism. We’ve reviewed the entries and are excited about the possibilities,” says Heidi van der Watt, founder of the African awards and director of Better Tourism Africa.

The longlisted organisations submissions of the longlisted organisations will now be rigorously reviewed by the judging team. Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says:
The field for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA) is again an indication of the strength of responsible tourism in Africa! Entrants have already completed a detailed questionnaire, and now we’ll take up references and make some inquiries. On judging day we’ll identify those that demonstrate the difference that taking responsibility can make, and have the capacity to educate and inspire others to be more responsible.

The general public can also offer support or otherwise for longlisted organisations by emailing Based on all the evidence, the independent judging team, made up of industry experts, will debate the entries and select the shortlist and winners. The shortlist will be announced on 9 April 2017.

The 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony that will be held on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The ceremony is part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa, which takes place from 18 to 20 April 2018.

Chardonnay Marchesi, Portfolio Manager for Reed Exhibitions, organiser of WTM Africa, says:
Now in its fifth year, WTM Africa is firmly established on the African travel and tourism event calendar. Responsible Tourism has been a cornerstone of WTM Africa from the outset. In recent months we’ve seen the tourism sector rallying with inspiring innovation to respond to the drought in the Western Cape. Just further proof that responsible tourism is integral to the success of tourism on the continent. All stakeholders have a duty to ensure education, sustainability, and authenticity when promoting the unique experiences that Africa has to offer. We look forward to an exciting fourth edition of the African Responsible Tourism Awards, here in Cape Town at the CTICC at WTM Africa.”

The 2018 ARTA longlist

Congratulations to all longlisters, and best of luck during the judging round!

Follow #ARTA18 and @RTAwardsAfrica for all you need to know about the awards ceremony and after-party and to discover who goes through to the finals.


For more information, high res logos or interviews contact:

Better Tourism Africa
Sadia Nanabhay
Tel: +27 72 662 5410
Inge Dykman
Tel: + 27 21 487 4800



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The India Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

The India Responsible Tourism Awards 2018 were presented at the Outlook Responsible Tourism Summit in Delhi on February 10th.

Outlook Responsible Tourism Awards

Outlook Responsible Tourism Awards

Posted by Responsible Tourism on Saturday, 10 February 2018


The Indian Responsible Tourism Awards is a regional partner of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards in London. Founded in 2004 by Responsible Travel, it has established itself as a global touchstone of responsible tourism with chapters in Ireland, Africa, and of course, India.

In keeping with the international standards, the judging process for IRTA was intensive and rigorous, and spread over months… And the winners were chosen by a formidable jury of 17 experts! The jury spent a significant amount of time and effort on judging the Awards this year, and there were a lot of debates. The judges’ reasons were specific, and it is important to note that few if any businesses or organisations are responsible in every aspect of their business. None are perfect but by far, the winners selected by the judges this year are leaders in Responsible Tourism across India.

Family owned Homestay


Granny’s Inn, Varanasi
Jilling Estate, District Nainital
Ghoomakad, Rakkar Village, near Dharamsala
Maheshganj Estate, Balakhana, Nabadwip
Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay, Salawas, near Jodhpur

Gold: Ghoomakad, Indian Himalayas.

Developed by a family in the village of Rakkar, near Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh Ghoomakad offers co-living in a traditional mud-house setting with a co-working space, a 20+ seater studio with reliable internet and power. The judges were taken by the way in which organic farming and waste management and recycling have been turned into activities for guests; and by the survival camp experience which enables guests to connect with nature and mountains and to learn about them and about themselves. This is a homestay in a village in the mountains, which offers young techies an opportunity to experience village life. Offering a village life experience with modern technology enables Ghoomakad to attract guests keen to take a bath in the mountain stream, work on the internet during the day and enjoy the cultural life and peace of the village at night.

Silver: Chhotaram Prajapat

Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay describes itself as “an initiative in reality” they have “taken an initiative to offer the unaltered and the real-time panoramaof their civilization. The village of Salawas is in the outskirts of Jodhpur. The Prajapati’s are the weaver class, and that remains the main income of the family, the homestay provides a supplementary income. The family offers their guests a traditional family experience. The fifteen members of the family are the staff of the homestay and guests eat from the family kitchen the judges were impressed by the extent of the guests’s engagement with the family and the opportunity to learn from the family how to make a durry.


Village Ways, Uttarakhand
Demul, Spiti
Friends of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
The Goat Village, Uttarakhand
Baramati Agri Tourism, Maharashtra

Community-owned Homestays & Agri-Tourism

 Gold: Friends of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

The Friends of Orchha is a registered non-profit organisation formed in 2006 to create livelihoods, preserve the built heritage of Orchha and to promote cultural exchange between visitors and locals. The Friends of Orchha initiative was a response to four years of drought in Bundelkhand to spread the economic and cultural benefits of tourism to the families of small farmers, artisans and labourers. The Friends of Orchha provided the capital to build a sanitary block in the family compounds. The judges were impressed by the business model. The Friends of Orchha provided the loan capital for the sanitation block repaid from tourism earnings. The families provided the labour to build the blocks and gain additional income. This business model enabled poor families to engage in business, earn an additional income while avoiding risk. Each of the families has at least tripled their incomes and acquired an asset. There is obvious scope for replication. The women from the six families currently engaged in the project are the key actors. The fact that foreigners stay with them, and eat food cooked by them, has countered discrimination, boosted their confidence and social status and empowered them.

Silver: Demul Homestays, Himachal Pradesh

Demul Village Homestays was started in 2004 with the help of the Spiti based social enterprise Ecosphere in order to diversify livelihood opportunities ion a community otherwise dependent on agriculture in an environment where only one crop can be produced each year, during the six months of winter temperature often drop below 30⁰C. The judges were impressed by the scale of what has been achieved in Demul. There are 55 households in the village, 48 of them have had a room converted to a guest room, guests living with the family. Using traditional patterns of village governance guests are allocated to homestays on a rotational basis and at the end of each year the money is distributed equally amongst all of the homestays, the cooperation avoids the damaging impact of excessive competition and falling room rents.

Heritage Property


Parsi Manor, Matheran
Ahhichatragarh Fort, Ranvas, Nagaur
Chapslee, Shimla
Bhuj House, Guajarat
Patan Mahal, Rajasthan


Gold: Bhuj House, Kutch,

In 2013 the Bhujwala family decided to restore the Bhuj House, their traditional Parsi home into a heritage homestay in the historic town of Bhuj in the Kutch district of Gujarat. One of only two Parsi houses remaining in Bhuj, its future has been secured, and the Bhujwala family has protected the Agiary through a trust maintained by the family. This is a homestay designed to conserve the Parsi heritage through tourism. “The house is filled with family treasures, photographs and memorabilia which offer a sense of the past, as well as a mix of vintage and contemporary Kutchi fabrics which can be found throughout the region. The food is typical of the Parsi community and served in the inner courtyard of the house; a peaceful oasis in the midst of a bustling town.” The Bhuj House is an authentic symbol of the community which once thrived in Bhuj .

The Bhuj House stood alone in this category, standing comparison with previous winners in this category internationally. Based on the applications before them the judges did not identify worthy Silver in this category.

Urban Neighbourhood


Mumbai Magic
CYCLIN’ Jaipur
The Preserve Alleppey Society
Reality Tours & Travels
Calcutta Photo Tours

Gold: Reality Tours & Travel, Mumbai

Reality Tours & Travel was created in 2005 by Krishna Pujari and Chris Way. Their objective was to show the positive side of slums and to break down negative stereotypes about its residents, and Dharavi, in Mumbai, in particular. In 2007 Reality Tours set up a Community Centre in Dharavi to provide English and computer classes. In August 2009, the NGO Reality Gives to provide education; they have trained 15 local women to provide training in English, computer and soft skills to 400 students using child-centered and interactive teaching methods. They have engaged with 130 children through a variety of sports programs. Reality Gives is funded by donations from travellers and Reality Tours & Travel which gives 80% of their profits, about 30% of their revenue, to support local development projects in Dharavi. To date that amounts to Rp100, 000,000. Around 15,000 people go with Reality Tours into Dharavi led by local people. The tours provide employment for 50 people and for their clients provide an authentic experience and contribute to breaking down harmful stereotypes of slum areas and increase the pride and confidence of local people. Recently the co-founder, Krishna Pujari, was featured in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Transforming Our World” series.

In 2012, they were recognised as overall winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, London. Since then they have expanded to Rajasthan and Kerala by offering multi-day tours and in 2014, they began working with the New Delhi slum, Sanjay Colony.  The initiative has been replicated in Metro Manila by Smokey Tours. Just short of 85% of clients reported that their perception of life in Dharavi had changed. Independent research by a Durham University student found that 79% had a positive view of Reality Tours, only 5% had a negative view, the remainder were either neutral or did not know of them.


Silver: The Preserve Alleppey Society

The Preserve Alleppey project was started by the Lion’s Ladies Club of Alleppey in 2000. They recognised that tourism could be used to preserve the character of the town. The group initiated the first garbage collection in Alleppey in 2003 and undertook a canal cleaning and beautification project on St George St. in 2004. Registered as a Charitable Society in 2004 the 15 members provide walking tours with local guides who point out local features which otherwise would be missed and introduce local food and crafts. . Educated women not formally employed found an opportunity to work creatively and to do something to better the town. The funds raised in 2006 -2007 were donated to a Self Help Women’s group set up by the local women’s college to manufacture paper bags providing employment and reducing the use of plastic. The Society is now in the process of documenting Alleppey with a view to publishing a guide to its history and buildings and the different local and migrant communities which have made it their home. The judges recognised that the Alleppey Society is successfully using tourism to create local pride and to contribute to conserving the town. It is a model which could, and should, be replicated elsewhere.

Best Boutique


Pepper Trail, Kerala
Glenburn Tea Estate, West Bengal
Maachli, Maharashtra
Shahpura Bagh, Rajasthan
Meena Bagh, Himachal Pradesh

Gold: Maachli

At Maachli in they offer guests an immersion in nature, an opportunity to be rejuvenated by listening to the rhythmic sound of nature, they aim to “tune man’s cord with nature.” They offer village themed cottages raised above coconut, beetlenut, bananas and spices. Guests engage in the practical and cultural life of the village, and in agriculture and nature. Maachli offers a boutique farm stay; guests are provided with an opportunity to indulge in abundance in a preserved forest where in the last 15 years they have planted 1,000 habitat friendly trees. 90% of the staff are female and local sourcing and recipes ensure that additional incomes are created for many villagers.

Silver: Meena Bagh

Recently constructed in the Himachali style with wood-panelled and mud-plastered walls the Meena Bagh Shimla reflects the local culture in music, food, architecture and hospitality. They encourage writers and artists to stay and work in the Meena Bagh offering a 50% discount. The resort harvests rainwater, recycles grey water and biodegradable waste, solar heats it hot water and uses LED lights throughout and the property is fully thermal and sound insulated. Only waste wood was used for the panelling and the furniture, local people built the property and have subsequently been employed to run the resort.

Best Outdoor Operator


White Magic Adventure
Planet Abled
Quest Expeditions
Konkan Explorers
Global Himalayan Expeditions

The judges were pleased to see that Planet Abled recognised in 2016 for the Award of Best Innovation by a Tour Operator and the Overall Winner in the India Responsible Tourism Awards has continued to grow and that it now offers outdoor soft adventure holidays for people with disabilities. In the last year Planet Abled has organised a river rafting expedition including people with spinal cord injury and a solo zip wire trip across the Ganga for a blind traveller.

The judges continue to be impressed by Planet Abled. However, although there has been some further development in the last year the judges were unable to award hem with gold again, there was not sufficient growth or innovation to justify this in the Outdoor Operator category. Having in mind winners in similar categories with the Responsible Tourism Awards family the judges were unable to recommend a Gold Award this year. However, there are two very worthy Silver winners.

Silver: Quest Asia Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
Quest promote activities using non-motorised power: paddle, pedal or wind. They have five activity centres along the coast reducing the local dependency on fishing by providing employment in water sports and hospitality. They employ elderly gardeners to provide them with a livelihood. This Award is for their sea kayaking Paddle for the Environment experience. With core values of environmental and social responsibility Quest employs eight underprivileged boys from the Don Bosco Shelter Home for orphans and street kids as guides, they teach local children kayaking and give life-guard an d snorkelling training to local fishermen to help them find work in tourism, they employ and source locally offering low-impact non-motorised adventure activities. They use solar power to heat water, no bottled water, they use filtered water. All the guides are trained and certified life guards. They have worked with local villagers to clean the beaches.

Silver: Konkan Explorers-Morjim, Goa

The experience of crossing a forest and experiencing the wildlife and habitat in 90 minutes-they promote soft ecological impact nautical activities, to weave a more proper relation with the environment. Each experience is customized according to the wishes of the client as well as their physical and technical skills. The judges were impressed by this approach to low impact ecological experiences. Drawing on Brahmanic socio-religious thinking they seek to create through Grass Roots Ecology a closer relationship between their clients and the natural environment. The act of beaching on a virginal desert tidal island has a major emotional impact. The unsinkable kayaks they use are exceptional tools for delivering proximity to nature and to wind, tides and currents. Where outboard motors are used they operate with 40hp outboards, the lowest safe in that environment. Rather than use a houseboat from Kerala they use a Goan trawler, all the employees are Goan and 40% are women…  The judges also recognised high level of training provided for the guides and the company’s expectation of personal fitness when taking clients into the wild.

Best Cultural Immersion Operator


Culture Aangan
Dirty Feet
Kerala RT Mission
Sound Travels
Folk Tales

Gold: The Folk Tales


Established in 2013 as a “Responsible Rural Travel organization” offer a deep cultural immersion and “hands-on experience of local culture, food, art & craft, music, architecture, wildlife and natural beauty.” The experiences are designed to have positive social, economic and environmental impacts. The judges were impressed by the ethics of the business and their commitment to the principles of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. They have a Code of Conduct which defines the character of the services and experiences which the traveller will receive and which ensures that the travel experiences they provide are based on Responsible Tourism principles including local sourcing, respect and meaningful interactions. The judges were particularly impressed by their immersive tour to Meghalaya where tourists spend two days with weavers in the village and weave their own local silk or cotton cloth on a handloom before spending a day with the tea pickers working through the whole process from plucking to drying and packaging. Guests then spend two days living with the indigenous tribes of Meghalaya, their engagement with the folktales, traditional ceremonies and honey extraction practices helps to maintain the culture. They have eliminated the use of plastic water bottles by providing safe potable water. Operating in 11 states they have capped numbers at 500 guests annually so that no village receives more than 50 guests per year. Enough to secure a sustainable additional income without hampering their way of life.

Silver: Culture Aangan

Formed in 2010 and based in Mumbai Culture Aangan’s purpose is to build communities through tourism providing education and using a self-help group model developing branded homestays and the reviving endangered traditional art forms. The judges were particularly impressed by their Sindhudurg tour which over four days offers the guest the opportunity to engage with their hosts’ community life and to understand the four pillars of an Indian village: the panchayat, the temple, well and the school. The guest has an in-depth experience of Indian village life enjoying folk theatre; setting up and dancing Pinguli shadow puppets, visiting the market and mango and cashew orchards; and engaging with the marginalised camel herders.  This tourism intervention has revived the Pinguli puppet craft. The community is asked whether they wish to receive guests before any booking is accepted, they have an effective veto over the arrival of visitors if they choose to use it. Culture Aangan now offers similar programmes in two additional states: Rajasthan and Uttrakhand.

Wildlife Property


SAI Sanctuary Trust, Karnataka
Wildernest, Goa
Off the Grid, Karnataka
Fringe Ford, Kerala
Habre’s Nest, West Bengal

Gold: Fringe Ford, Wayanad, Kerala

A former cardamom and coffee plantation stretching over 1000 acres, 520 acres of which have now been rewilded. The fences with the Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forests have been removed creating a borderless reserve of Malabar rainforest.  There are just five rooms, a very low impact wilderness guesthouse. Guests eat in the kitchen where local delicacies are cooked. The only activities offered in the wilderness reserve are guided walks. The Travancore flying squirrel, Nilgiri marten, Lion-tailed macaque, Brown palm civet and the Nilgiri langur can all be seen in the reserve along with elephants, gaur, tiger and leopard. The regular presence of wildlife enthusiasts and fieldwork students in the forest has significantly reduced poaching, cannabis cultivation and illicit liquor manufacture. The guesthouse has grid hydroelectricity, grey water is cleaned through a reed bed, brown water goes into septic soak pits. All the staff are from local villages, fresh fruit and vegetables come from the villages, spices and honey comes from the local tribal co-operative in the village.

Silver: SAI Sanctuary, Karnataka, South India

The SAI Sanctuary Trust (SST) is a registered non-profit organisation located in the Western Ghats of southern India—the heart of the watershed area for the entire south Indian peninsula. From the initial purchase of just 55 acres of private forested lands in 1991, the Sanctuary has grown to more than 300 protecting a biodiversity hotspot. They have recently opened two eco-friendly cottages each having two three bedded with attached baths. The sanctuary has strong environmental credentials, and the judges wanted to recognise this as an example of a wildlife sanctuary using tourism as a supplementary income. Guests are welcome, but the flora and fauna of the refuge come first, all travel through the sanctuary is on foot with small groups, trekking through the core area is done only once a day and only with an experienced guide. Silver: Wildernest, Chorla Ghats, Goa,

Sixteen eco-cottages designed out of eco-friendly acacia wood, Wildernest has strived to make living in the wilds a totally new experience to cherish. They actively market both the winter and the monsoon experiences. With foot trails, hides and machans (tree platforms), guided close encounters and talks the judges recognised that Wildernest offers a special wildlife experience; combined with an Ayurshala, local ethnic traditional food, cultural experiences and visits to traditional sanctuaries, holy forests conserved for generations by local people. A mere 10 acres of the private sanctuary of 700 acres sustains the flora and fauna of the sanctuary, and supports 200 families, directly benefitting seven villages.


Overall Winner

Fringe Ford

The judges recognise the importance of the Fringe Ford model, rewilding former plantation land to create a wilderness reserve which creates a larger contiguous reserve by linking Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forests. Too often the most biologically productive land is take for cultivation and denied to native flora and fauna. Fringe Ford has been championing a White Paper on “Private land participation in preservation and conservation of forests” at the national level. This approach to re-wilding former plantation or agricultural land is increasingly common in southern Africa bringing benefits for wildlife conservation and rural communities. The judges recognise the national importance of the re-wilding initiative at Fringe Ford as a harbinger of change, critical to the future of wildlife in India.

Outstanding Achievement

Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission

The judges were pleased to receive an application from the Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission in the Best Cultural Immersion Tour Operator category. The judges wanted to recognise the outstanding achievement of Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Initiative which over the last ten years has piloted a range of approaches to securing additional livelihoods for local communities and enhancing the guest experience. The Village Life Experiences provide a cultural immersion for guests who benefit them and the villagers who create and share those experiences with their paying guests. These interactions are based on mutual respect and create shared memories and provide an additional income, an incentive, for those villagers to maintain their traditional practices. Forty farmers have restarted paddy cultivation and local arts have been granted a new lease of life. Some 1,100 local people are benefitting from tourism to Kumarakom. This is an exemplary initiative which has been recognised internationally. Now moving beyond the development phase, Village Life Experiences will in 2018 be extended to 20 new villages in all 14 districts of Kerala. Rarely are initiatives piloted, tested, assessed and fine-tuned and then rolled out at scale. This is an outstanding achievement and one that should be widely replicated.

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In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK

Leading children’s charity ECPAT UK will mark today’s Anti-Slavery Day (18th October 2017) with the release of an animated film aimed at tackling the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation.

The Secret Gardeners, created by Ruth Beni of Animage Films and Oscar-nominated animator Erica Russell, aims to inform professionals about the plight of children who are forced by organised crime gangs to grow drugs in houses across the UK but who often face criminalisation and prison.

It is hoped that the film, which is based on real-life experiences of children ECPAT UK has supported, will also educate members of the public who use cannabis about the ‘dirty’ supply chains of marijuana that may include child exploitation.

In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. From In the first six months of this year alone there have been 169 referrals of VN children into the NRM, making it the top country for children being trafficked into the UK.

The film will be premiered in London’s historic Frontline club on October 17th 2017.

The Secret Gardeners will also be launched in Vietnam in partnership with the Pacific Links Foundation as part of an innovative education programme in schools to help prevent young people being trafficked.


Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at ECPAT UK, said: “ECPAT has been receiving referrals about children from Vietnam exploited in cannabis cultivation for more than a decade yet this is still a shock to many who use marijuana in the UK. I think many people are unaware of the exploitation in cannabis supply chains and will want to consider the providence of their drugs in the future.


“In our experience, many vulnerable young people from Vietnam are treated as criminals before they are seen as victims of modern slavery, which only retraumatises them and makes it more difficult to gain their trust. We want this film to help inform frontline workers about the rights of child victims of trafficking, as well as to reach out to children in Vietnam who may be at risk.”

Ruth Beni, Director of Animage Films, said: “In creating awareness and prevention campaigns, using animation has proved to be a very effective way to convey the heart-breaking, often harrowing stories of real trafficking victims in an engaging and accessible form.”

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Future Proofing Tourism in Pembrokeshire

I had the privilege of speaking at a Pembrokeshire Tourism event on Future Proofing Tourism, they recognise that the future of the sector is in the hands of the industry. It is a rare thing now to see the sector coming together to consider competitiveness and sustainability. It was a remarkably young and dynamic and mixed group of people, all committed to making tourism better. They were enthusiastic about using tourism to make Pembrokeshire a better place to live in.

It was clear in the open space session that there was energy and commitment in the room with people ready to take responsibility and collaborate to address a range of issues including market segmentation, extending the season cluster by cluster and creating a skilled workforce able to provide decent jobs.

Like CoaST in Cornwall Pembrokeshire Tourism, has an inclusive membership open to anyone who is directly involved in the tourism economy including those who provide professional and supplier services.#

Regrettably, I had to leave at lunchtime but I am told that the 50 or so who were present “will set about defining more distinct destinations and markets — and re-doubling our ongoing conversations with politicians at all levels. ”

Tourism is looking good in Pembrokeshire. Together and with the support of their communities and politicians they will develop and maintain a great destination, one which because of its diversity can provide a great holiday offering “temporary residence” to like-minded people.

I hope to go back soon  for a holiday.

My presentation is available on Slideshare

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Celebrating the decline in the value of the £ – incredible.

The pro-Brexit Mail on Sunday ran this story last weekend.

This is close to celebrating the decline in the value of the £ and the earnings, savings and pensions of anyone holding sterling.

Since the UK referendum vote, the British pound has seen a dramatic and sustained fall in value.

1 USD = 1 Euro =
June 22nd, 2016 68 pence 76 pence
August 24th, 2017 85 pence 92 pence

You can check more historical rates here.

This is good for inbound tourism as the June 2017 figures from Visit Britain show

Note the year on year  decline in inbound business trips of 7%

More data here 

The writing is on the wall and in the media – but it is being ignored. On March 30th 2019 the UK enters the promised land where you can have your cake and eat it.

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RT Developments in July

Latest RT News just published

Responsible Tourism Developments July 2017

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13th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations

Working sSymposium 29-30 September 2017 – University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Tourism is rapidly growing worldwide and popular destinations are increasingly becoming dominated by tourism. This puts a strain on the infrastructure in wild, rural and built environments. Congested roads, lack of public toilets, overwhelmed rescue teams, sky rocketing housing prices, trampling pressure, soil erosion, fed-up local population, and crowding out effect such as currency fluctuations and human resources, demonstrate some of the issues communities are faced with when attempting to accommodate so many tourists. How should mass tourism be managed? Can it be managed?

The main purpose of this working symposium is to explore strategies to ensure sustainable tourism development where “overtourism” is occurring through local practices and empowered communities. We envisage that this symposium will identify the research agenda on overtourism and we hope that research partnerships will emerge from it and means of knowledge dissemination identified. The following themes are of particular interest but feel free to suggest others:


  • The physical impacts of tourism and transport – in natural and built environments
  • The social impacts of tourism
  • Terrestrial  tourism in natural areas – species and habitat impacts
  • Freshwater and marine tourism
  • Urban tourism
  • The challenge of managing disintermediated travel and tourism


The first of this two-day event will establish what is known and what the challenges are and will be comprised mainly of presentations and Q&A. The second day will take the form of structured parallel workshops designed to develop the research agenda and international collaboration to seek funding and undertake comparative research.


The symposium takes place in Iceland which has been faced with an exponential tourism growth in recent years and many of the challenges of overtourism are readily manifest. An emphasis on responsible tourism management will be beneficial for the future of Icelandic tourism as well as worldwide and guidance towards a tourism that sustains communities and serves as a tool to increase quality of life.



Call for abstracts is now open until 10th of July.



Best regards,


Eyrún Jenný Bjarnadóttir

Sérfræðingur / Researcher

Rannsóknamiðstöð ferðamála

Icelandic Tourism Research Centre

Askja, Háskóli Íslands, Sturlugata 7

IS-101 Reykjavík

Sími / Tel: +354 525 4459

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Harold Goodwin