African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017

Coffee Shack makes a major impact in a remote rural area
Blood Lions and Coffee Shack Backpackers take the top spots at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017.
 
A hard-hitting documentary on the plight of lions in tourism and a small backpacker lodge with ample impact were announced Joint Overall Winners at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017 in Cape Town, sponsored by Wesgro.
 
In a special ceremony at World Travel Market Africa 2017, Blood Lions and Coffee Shack took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of finalists gathered from around Africa.
 
The ambition of the Responsible Tourism Awards is to educate, inspire and challenge. The Blood Lions campaign demonstrates how awareness raising and engagement can achieve change, successfully engaging the industry though its “Born To Live Wild” campaign. Coffee Shack demonstrates the major positive impact which a small business in a remote rural area can have.
 
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. 
 
In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development the industry needs to recognise that we need to be a lot more transparent about credibly reporting the positive impacts that businesses in the tourism sector have on peoples’ livelihoods and well-being – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards will be announced next month – in this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development there is a particular emphasis on the SDGs.
 
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 extensive 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, mec’s, and government 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 a vision that extends beyond the commercial – linking business success with the wellbeing of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate balance sheets alongside beliefs, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism in Africa.”
 
The Awards were sponsored by 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 manner.  Today, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.”
 
For the full list of this year’s winners, log on here and read their stories or watch videos from the Overall Winners.