The first Africa Responsible Tourism Awards were announced in 2014 and presented at WTM Africa in 2015. The Awards were created to celebrate and inspire change in the African tourism industry. It is an Africa-wide search and celebration of the most inspiring and enduring responsible tourism experiences. The awards rest on a simple principle – that all types of tourism, from niche to mainstream, can and should be organised in a way that preserves, respects and benefits destinations and local people.
"Our vision for the awards is to shine a light on the best of the best and to inspire change in the African tourism industry. Better Tourism Africa wants to help people live their dreams through authentic and life-enriching adventures, to ensure local people and wildlife benefit and to be a catalyst for change in the tourism industry. Our awards are a key part of this dream to drive positive change. Our awards celebrate the shining stars of responsible tourism on the African continent – the individuals, organisations and destinations making a positive impact on local cultures, communities and biodiversity. But more than that, we want their examples to inspire others. That’s why we’ve got the most rigorous judging process around. And we work with our partners to get the word out so that winners’ are an example to the industry."
There have also been winners in the World Responsible Tourism Awards from Africa. In the sixth year of the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards, we thought that we should look back over the five years of the Awards, the Africa and World Awards 2015-2019, and invite the Gold winners in all categories to update their original application and to enter the 2020 Africa Responsible Tourism Awards.
There is a public vote for each category based on the judges' reasons and Gold and Silver winners chosen by an international panel comprising judges from the African and World Awards panels.
The Gold Award winners of the Africa and World Awards 2015-2019 are from a variety of categories, for the 2020 Awards they have been grouped into four categories. The judges may decide to divide the categories and make further awards. As is our usual practice we shall explain the reasons for our decisions.
The 2020 Inspirational Africa Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented to those businesses and organisations which can demonstrate the core Responsible Tourism values of transparency and respect, which are able to demonstrate their impact and which have, or could, inspire others to achieve more. We started the Africa Awards to identify solutions and encourage change, five years on it is time to look for those which are most inspiring and which can, and should, be replicated.
The judges' reasons reproduced below are those published when the Awards were presented.
Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana, Carbon, World Awards, 2017
The only lodge located inside Chobe National Park they have a broad approach to responsibility, catering for travellers with disabilities, greywater recycling, a biogas plant, recycling –including crushing glass to manufacture bricks on-site -, a boardwalk constructed from recycled timber and plastic. They have a youth development programme which has trained nearly 200 youths, and they have employed 55 of them; a profit share scheme for staff; and a programme of donations to 20 local initiatives. Their women’s empowerment programme has been particularly successful, now 65% of all staff are female, and they have an all-female team of professionally qualified guides.
Chobe Game Lodge has been previously recognised in the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards: Best for Resource Management in 2015 and Best for Responsible Employment in 2016. The judges recognised the breadth of their engagement with the Responsible Tourism agenda. They were particularly impressed by their fleet of electric vehicles and their commitment to reducing their carbon emissions by progressively introducing electrically powered vehicles and boats for game viewing and adopting solar energy and biodiesel. To date over half the lodge’s safari boats and vehicles have been converted; four safari boats, three electric game drive vehicles, and a utility vehicle. The guests enjoy a silent less intrusive game drive and CO2 emissions are saved contributing to achieving SDG13: combatting climate change. At least one Zambian operation has followed their lead.
Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana, Resource Management, World Awards, 2015
Chobe Game Lodge is over 40 years old, to refurbish an old structure the size of this lodge, making it more eco-friendly is a mammoth and on-going task. The lodge has a long term approach to energy efficiency with the ultimate aim of reducing dependency on the grid. The most noticeable innovation is the use of all-electric game drive vehicles and electric game viewing boats.
Endeavour Safaris Disability Access, World Awards, 2015
It is rare to see a conventional tourism business get its head around what disability access really means, but when a safari company does it, you really have to take your khaki hat off. And most importantly, Endeavour Safaris understands inclusivity in tourism. Because they are not just about providing safari camps for people with disabilities. They are just about providing nop notch safari camps. For everyone.
Great Plains Conservation, Botswana & Kenya, Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign, Africa Awards, 2016
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.
Grootbos, South Africa, Accommodation, Responsible Business, World Awards, 2017
Grootbos is a multi-award winning Private Nature Reserve, 2 750 hectares of pristine Cape fynbos reserve on the Agulhas plains of the Western Cape in South Africa. Grootbos and the Grootbos Foundation employ 185 staff, 19% of whom work on community and conservation. Grootbos has previously been recognised for its social impact. In 2015 it won Gold in the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards and Silver in the World Awards for its achievements in poverty reduction.
They are now in the fourth year of measuring, collecting and collating sustainability data to Scope 3 using Defra emissions in line with the Green House Gas Protocol reporting standards. They have significantly reduced their use of mains power, by 10% in the last reporting year, and have installed a solar installation which powers Grootbos Garden lodge and the Grootbos Foundation. In the last financial year, 33 937 KwH solar power was generated.
The Grootbos Foundation publishes an excellent Annual Report which communicates its impacts across many of the SDGs. The judges were also impressed by the way they have combined all their sustainability data into a sustainability dashboard management tool, including water footprint monitoring, waste management, and diesel and electricity usage. Grootbos is also committed to sourcing suppliers within 100 km radius and the Grootbos Foundation assists with the development of a local supply chain supplying organic produce, eggs and products to the lodge for an authentic arm to table guest experience.
Mdumbi Green Fair Festival, South Africa, Responsible Event, Africa Awards, 2019
Mdumbi Green Fair Festival in the Mankosi area in rural Eastern Cape proves that even small rural events can deliver ample environmental, social and economic shared value to the local area. The detailed quantification of impacts and achievements across economic, social and environmental pillars, for a festival of this nature, is remarkable.
The festival’s focus is the strengthening local citizenry’s ability to play a strong and vibrant role in the socio-economic transformation in their area. The organisers crowd in professionals – chefs, security specialists, musicians and make-up artists – to build skills and knowledge amongst local people. All festival revenue flows into the community: a portion directly to local caterers, security force, cleaners and recyclers, grounds team, accommodation providers and artists; and a portion to TransCape NPO for community-focused work in education, health and small business development.
Mdumbi Green Fair Festival lives up to its name through tree-planting, avoiding single-use items in catering, recycling of 95 % of festival waste, solar lighting, upcycled waste material in décor pieces and environmental footprint information for festival-goers. An indigenous nursery and educational garden to generate income and for biodiversity, education is planned in the long-term.
Meetings Africa, South Africa, Large Sustainable Event, Africa Award 2019
Meetings Africa, the continent’s major tradeshow for the meetings industry with some 300 exhibitors, attracts about 2500 participants. The event is guided by an extensive sustainability plan with quantified targets. Actual performance is meticulously documented in a post-event report and independently verified. These documents cover a sweeping range of actions to reduce the event environmental footprint and increase socio-economic gains for local small businesses.
Economic inclusion is a central plank of Meetings Africa. Hosted buyers are given vouchers to exchange for locally made gifts from suppliers exhibiting in the Sustainability Village, guaranteeing sales to SMMEs and avoiding wasteful expenditure on unwanted gifts. Black-owned tourism SMME’s participate gain exposure to qualified buyers through the Development Zone. Event waste management services and staff uniforms are supplied by female-owned start-up businesses supported and mentored by large exhibition and event infrastructure suppliers.
Environmental efforts include waste reduction and recycling, bokashi bins for food waste, upcycled content in décor, renewable energy certificates and carbon offsetting, and donation of carpets to community projects. Exhibitor manuals and briefings include information on sustainable exhibition stands and show communications reinforce the sustainability message. Major contractors sign a Green Pledge, and exhibitors and accommodation suppliers are awarded for responsible practices though a Green Stand Awards and Green Hotel Awards.
Meetings Africa not only harvests business meetings worth billions of Rands for Africa, it masterfully delivers across the environmental and social bottom lines.
MTN Bushfire, Swaziland, Responsible Event, Africa Awards, 2017
A three-day festival held annually in the scenic Malkerns Valleys of Swaziland attracting 25,000 participants from across the globe (in 2016 from 62 countries) to enjoy and experience a rich texture of arts, cultures, crafts, food markets. Over the last 10 years, the festival has grown in international recognition and used its cultural and economic success, the festival creates employment for 1200 Swazis making a significant contribution to the local economy.
The festival’s call to action #BRINGYOURFIRE, has stimulated a personal and collective commitment to social programmes: the Schools Festival (2000 Swazi students and teachers annually), the Arts Round Table (that brings together international and local artists) funding for Young Heroes (an Aids Orphan support programme) and BoMake Rural Projects which benefits rural Swazi women. Bushfire sparked the FireFest Route, which now involves Azgo (Mozambique), Zakifo (Durban, SA) Africa Day (Johannesburg, SA) and Sakifo (Mother festival to Zakifo, held in Reunion Island.)
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, South Africa, Resource Management, Africa Award, 2019
Given its location in Table Mountain National Park and the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site, responsibly managing water and waste associated with more than 1 million visitors per year in a sensitive biosphere is a top priority for Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). The business already had a multifaceted suite of measures to reduce waste and manage water consumption in place to support a silver win for Resource Management in the 2015 African Responsible Tourism Awards. These included low-flush toilets, compostable catering supplies that reduce both wastes to landfill and water use, beverage dispensers instead of glass bottles or tins, recycling information and guidance for visitors, and responsible management of hazardous waste.
Additional measures since 2015 range from an organic waste management system to waterless urinals and the introduction of hand-sanitiser as taps were closed off. Transporting all potable water and food products to the top of the mountain, and solid waste and wastewater down by means of the cable car is worthy of recognition. Reductions in per capita consumption of water or volumes of waste generated are typically most marked soon after the introduction of management measures. Given that most of the water and waste management innovations were introduced before 2015, the judges did not expect to see drastic reductions in per capita figures in recent years. However, maintaining reduced per-person water consumption and waste levels over a five-year period is remarkable. The judges were convinced that enough supplementary work has been done and performance maintained since 2015 to warrant another win.
The Good Holiday, Best Blog, Africa Awards, 2015
The Good Holiday has authenticity, a real sense of care and a true desire to facilitate experiences that are beneficial to all it comes in contact with at the heart of stories told. Interactive and visually appealing, the blog inspires travellers to journey to African places with a unique cultural heritage, places that inspire people to consider a life seeking simple pleasures that tread lightly on the earth.
Transfrontier Parks Destinations, South Africa, Tour Operator, World Awards, 2017
TFPD was founded in 2004 to work with economically poor rural communities to commercialise community-owned lodges and develop local people to run those lodges in the future. Their role is to transform ‘white elephants’ into successful ventures. The scale is significant 50 villages now benefit, directly and indirectly, from the group’s operations. They have created 147 permanent jobs in rural areas, which in turn support around 955 dependents. The judges were impressed by the depth and quality of the data that TFPD was able to provide on the employment and local supply chain impact of the individual lodges and the tour operation as a whole. TFPD has adopted a ”creating shared value approach” and worked through its supply chain to establish independent micro-enterprises and ensure their viability by providing regular business for them. This has generated R6.4M (£350,000) for microenterprises since 2004. The cumulative impact of TFPD’s commercialisation of the community lodges is R114.4M (£6.3m) of which staff salaries were R39M (£2.15m). Community-owned lodges are achieving viability and community members are being successfully trained to manage them as TFPD’s management contracts expire. TFPD impressed the judges with the quality of its data and lodge level community benefit statements and by its ten years of data.
Two Oceans Aquarium, South Africa, Responsible Attraction, Africa Awards, 2019
It is rare to find an aquarium that exhibits ONLY species from its own geography and not rely on exotics to attract visitors. The Two Oceans Aquarium showcases the diversity of the oceans off southern Africa and raises awareness of threats to ocean life and responsible use of marine resources. Plastic in the ocean and sustainable seafood are key topics. Conservation and sustainability-oriented messaging is included in exhibit signage, daily talks, media platforms, and speaker evenings.
As could be expected, the conservation and research of marine and coastal species is a major focus. A sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme, seal monitoring and disentanglement project in the Waterfront, and support for SANCCOB and Shark Spotters through donations of a portion of visitor fees, are but some of the related programmes. An environmental management system directs the operation of the attraction that draws 500 000 visitors per year. Performance against targets for water and energy consumption, waste production and carbon emissions are monitored and documented in annual sustainability reports. Performance is independently audited annually.
Educational programmes about marine life, coastal habitats and sustainable living are not limited to the Aquarium building – three outreach programmes reach more than 35,000 children, mainly from disadvantaged areas, per year. Various environmental campaigns and activations and campaigns increase conservation awareness amongst the general public. These include beach clean-ups, Rethink the Bag and Home to Ocean campaign and participation in Plastic Free July.
Wilderness Safaris, Botswana, Global Goals (SDGs), Africa Awards 2018
The judges were impressed by the success of Wilderness Safaris in driving down the consumption of bottled water and the consequent 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.
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.
The quantification and reporting of performance against indicators are 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.
!Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre, South Africa, Cultural & Heritage Experience, Africa Awards 2019
The judges want to recognise the contribution which !Khwa ttu has made to empowering and supporting the San across southern Africa through heritage and education initiatives.
The “museum” is located in Darling just outside Cape Town in the Western Cape. Established in 2018, this indigenous heritage centre has already attracted around 20 000 visitors. The museum represents a real milestone for the San. It is the only extensive heritage centre for the San and it was entirely co-curated.
The judges recognise that for the San across southern Africa, as well as local people who are of San ancestry, having ‘their own museum’ brings them extraordinary pride. At the same time, many San have a very limited idea of the other San and they take delight in discovering their similarities and differences.
Resident San elders and guides introduce performances and experiences.!Khwa ttu plays an important role in ensuring the maintenance and development of San knowledge, culture and traditions into the modern world. Today’s San are among the few remaining descendants of hunter-gatherers who once lived throughout the world and they have knowledge valuable to us today in understanding our past and our future.
Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve, South Africa, Cultural Heritage Conservation, Africa Award, 2016
The Gold Award went to Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve, custodian of over 130 unique San rock art sites. At its heart, Bushman’s Kloof is about the conservation of this remarkable heritage and culture. Over the past few months, Bushman’s 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.
Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania, Beach Tourism, Africa Awards, 2015
Chumbe was highly commended for water conservation in the World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2013 and they won the marine environment category in 2004. This time the judges wanted to recognise them for their careful review of progress to 2006 and the development of the new Management Plan 2006-2016. The judges saw this as an example of good practice and one which others should emulate.
Coffeebeans Routes, South Africa, Engaging People and Cultures, Africa Awards, 2015
Setting an example that could be replicated in other destinations, Cape Town-based Coffeebeans Routes creates travel experiences around urban stories. These are contemporary, urban, African experiences that provide deep insights, and plenty of fun. The experiences bring visitors and locals together across boundaries. Unapologetic about pushing social justice agenda, Coffeebeans Routes employs tourism as a tool to unlock economic potential and address societal inequalities through exploring cultural diversity and legacy.
Gansbaai, South Africa, Destination, Africa 2015
Since 1995 Gansbaai Tourism has worked to create awareness of and market the area as a tourism destination. The cluster of businesses in the area, some of them with international reputations, have worked together to develop an exemplary destination, a quality guest experience which has conserved fynbos and marine wildlife, created significant direct and indirect employment and they are now working together to quantify their environmental impacts.
Gansbaai, South Africa, Destination, World Award 2015
The Gansbaai is like an oyster that the local fishermen have opened only to discover a pearl inside - but that they then go on to share with all the world. Because Gansbaai, a town in the Overberg region, Western Cape, South Africa has transformed itself from a fishing village to one of South Africa's most exciting, and community-led adventure hubs, a process that has been led by the Gansbaai Tourism Association. The Gansbaai Tourism Association is one of South Africa's most proactive and passionate clusters of tourism businesses, from fishermen to fynbos conservationists. Because at Responsible Travel we know that responsible destinations don't just happen. People make them happen.
National Department of Tourism, South Africa, Public Policy and/or Support, Africa Awards, 2016
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.
Nkwichi Lodge, Mozambique, Beach Tourism, Africa Awards, 2016
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 sports teams and events that also celebrate local culture.
!Xaus Lodge, South Africa, Poverty Reduction, World Award 2016
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.
Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge, Morocco, Local Sourcing, World Award 2015
This eco Kasbah was built from scratch in 2009 in the Argan Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO site to protect the endemic argan tree. But this Kasbah was built with a view to protecting and proud-sharing the Berber heritage, that of the owner, Hassan Aboutayeb. Pride, protection and pristine beauty oozes from every hand crafted corner of this 11 bedroom Kasbah, just twenty minutes from Agadir in the High Atlas Mountains.
Coffee Shack Backpackers, South Africa, Accommodation for Social Inclusion, Africa Awards, 2017
Coffee Shack demonstrates the major positive impact which a small business in a remote rural area can have. Coffee Shack Backpackers is a small establishment with a huge heart and a considerable impact on the Tshezi community living in this remote corner of the Eastern Cape. From the first informal project equipping Pato Junior School in 2002 to bringing on board Tshezi Community Trust shareholders in 2005 to the creation of Sustainable Coffee Bay in 2009, the inclusion of the community in a meaningful manner has been part of the story of Coffee Shack Backpackers from the outset.
Today, Sustainable Coffee Bay runs an Early Childhood Development centre, a high school and tertiary education assistance fund, a project supporting ex-mineworkers to access provident funds, and sponsors the local soccer and netball league, to name but a few. Coffee Shack Backpackers pays above the minimum wage, encourages reception staff to travel through a travel bonus scheme, and has invested in two local businesses both of which are run by disabled community members and supply services to the backpackers.
As the saying goes “strong medicine comes in small bottles”.
Dorobo Tours and Safaris, Tanzania, Community Benefit, Africa Awards, 2017
Dorobo operates small light-weight mobile camps and safari vehicles in northern Tanzania. Its greatest achievement has been promoting cultural dignity and supporting land security for vulnerable communities.
Dorobo has assisted community partners to secure 23,500 hectares of their land for traditional hunting and gathering in the Yaeda Valley. Along the Maasai Steppe, over 27,000 hectares of grassland is being sustainably managed by the local communities for livestock and wildlife grazing. With legal certificates to the land and transparent tourism agreements, communities earn revenue for protecting this vital area against agricultural encroachment, permanent settlement, and charcoal production.
Fourteen tourism agreements with local villages benefit in the order of 55,000 local people. The business works directly with local village governments who represent the greater community. Contracts span five years and follow local laws and customs. A payment structure and a guaranteed annual income are agreed upon, enabling communities to budget efficiently each year. Communities members have access to periodic reports of revenue from tourism that has been disbursed and can hold local leaders accountable for the management and use thereof. Further, in 2018, Dorobo Safaris employed community members for 1430 days of work hosting clients in community areas – this was in addition to locals employed in full-time positions.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Poverty Reduction, Africa Award, 2015
Grootbos is no stranger to winning Responsible Tourism Awards. What stands out is the long history of interventions that amplify each other. The programmes of the Grootbos Foundation focus on improved livelihoods through self-reliance, development of viable enterprise development, gender balance and empowerment of women. Impacts are well quantified and information about projects easily accessible to the willing reader.
Ilha Blue Island Safaris, Mozambique, Engaging People & Culture, Africa Award 2017
The judges wanted to recognise the deep and diverse cultural experiences offered by Ilha Blue on the African World Heritage Ilha de Moçambique. Ilha Blue offers an exotic mix of Makhuwa, Swahili, Arabic, Indian, and Portuguese cultures through low impact small group tours by bicycle, sea-kayak and Swahili sailing dhow. The judges particularly valued the diverse local voices presented by Ilha Blue as an alternative to the colonial narrative, the presentation of local indigenous knowledge, with local guides presenting their perspectives and stories through experiences creating entrepreneurial opportunities and ensuring that local people shape and have a stake in tourism to their place.
Isibindi African Lodges, South Africa, Partnership for Poverty Reduction, Africa Award 2017
The judges were looking for true partnerships that truly whittle away poverty in local areas. At Isibindi Africa Lodges, partnerships extend way beyond run-of-the-mill charitable giving (although there is plenty of that too). Rental for community-owned land and tourism lodges, employment of local people, purchases of vegetables, crafts, and laundry and recycling services from local small producers, create sustainable income for four communities and hundreds of people in deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
To widen the spread of the benefits of tourism, Isibindi recently launched a special mechanism ITHUBA (“opportunity”) – a dedicated community engagement programme – to establish greater partnerships with communities and replace individual lodge efforts with a structure that allows resource sharing. Next up, a training facility focussing on lodge hospitality offering internships and a career path at Isibindi lodges for successful graduates.
Spier, South Africa, Accommodation for Responsible Employment, Africa Award 2016
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.
Transfrontier Parks Destinations, South Africa, Poverty Reduction, Africa Award, 2015
The scale and ambition of the Transfrontier Parks Destination’s work are truly remarkable. To actively seek out failing tourism businesses in areas of very high unemployment is very admirable but to them turn them round into viable businesses again employing many locals on a living wage giving them long term stability and income displays true leadership.
Uthando, South Africa, Impact in Urban Areas, Africa Award 2017
Urban community farms and two recipe books, educare centres, music and dance academies, domestic animal care, senior centres and a book that tell the stories of elders, arts and crafts hubs – the list of initiatives in Cape Town’s townships touched by UthandoSA is almost endless. UthandoSA’s urban philanthropic tours and partnership with the Belmont Mount Nelson Hotel capture the hearts, imagination and support of guest and the tourism industry, generating funds for a diverse array of projects. In the 2016 / 2017 fiscal year, Uthando is set to exceed R3 million transferred to 45 community projects – a remarkable impact for a tour operator with only 2 permanent employees.
All Out Africa, Swaziland, Habitat & Species Conservation, Africa Award, 2017
With references from universities in Swaziland and Florida attesting to All Out Africa’s contribution to both research and education on habitats and species, the judges were particularly impressed by All Out Africa’s social-entrepreneur approach to solving the problem of insufficient ecological information and capacity to enable successful conservation.
Over the last 12 years All Out Africa has enabled 500 international volunteers to contribute meaningfully to conservation through data collection and supported and trained over 100 local students in field-based conservation and ecological research, With activities in Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa they have supported the education of 15 local students at MSc level and more than 1000 undergraduate students from both local and international universities.
Blood Lions, South Africa, Responsible Tourism Campaign, Africa Awards 2017
The Blood Lions campaign demonstrates how awareness-raising and engagement can achieve change, successfully engaging the industry through its “Born To Live Wild” campaign. The judges were looking for a campaign with a clear target, able to report its impact and to demonstrate that it had contributed to making tourism more responsible.
From its launch in 2015, there was a clear focus “to stop lions being bred for the bullet.” With a powerful documentary film at the heart of a campaign which used social and traditional media to engage the industry, voluntourism, the public, government (local, national and international), professional hunters and the scientific and conservation community with a simple and compelling message: “THINK before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK, VOLUNTEER or SHOOT.” Otherwise, you might unwittingly be contributing to canned hunting.
The campaign is able to report with clear metrics on the traction it has gained and the impact it has had.
Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH), Animal Welfare, World Award, 2015
We have all seen the images - rich tourists posing for photographs after shooting a lion or other more endangered species. Shared worldwide on social media, most of us look on in disbelief that such practices, known as canned hunting, are still allowed to happen. Canned hunting refers specifically to the hunting of animals which have been enclosed in a confined, privately owned area. Albeit often a very large area so that they don't feel enclosed. Legal in South Africa, it attracts hunters from all over the world, who are prepared to pay vast amounts of money to shoot lions, send home their body parts and have them stuffed, for prowess. This South African based charity, however, engages with tour operators, airlines and governments to make sure that this 'can' becomes a 'can't' forever.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa, Habitat & Species, Africa Award, 2019
It is rare for a business based on a floral attraction to feature in tourism awards. Grootbos emerged as the overall winner because the judges recognised that it could have won in several categories. Grootbos has won Gold this year in recognition of the substantial growth in its conservation impacts. But there is much more to Grootbos. They deliver across the economic, social and environmental agendas.
The Football Foundation provides positive role models and a safe space for local youth. It reaches 9000 youth each year and provides daily sports coaching in hockey, athletics, soccer and netball and canoeing as well as female empowerment, environmental education, food for sport, grassroots soccer, HIV/Aids and water safety programmes.
Green Futures is a vocational training college. Siyakhula – the social enterprise arm of the Grootbos Foundation – runs an organic farm, a careers and entrepreneurship programme and support for Early Childhood Development Centres. Grootbos is a remarkable example of how much can be achieved through a committed approach to responsible tourism.
Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education, Wildlife Conservation, World Award 2015
The Ambondrolava mangrove complex in SW Madagascar is not only one of the country's most stunning habitats, home to many endemic bird species, but also home to five mangrove communities. Communities that have depended on the mangroves for wood, fish and other animals for centuries. But as populations rise, the mangroves start to disappear, and so this charity works closely with these communities to help sustain an eco-equilibrium for everyone.
Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya, Wildlife Conservation, Africa Award 2016
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 overgrazing 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.
The term ‘Naboisho’ literally means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language and this is exactly what Naboisho Conservancy represents.
Marine Dynamics, South Africa, Wildlife Conservation, Africa Award 2015
Marine Dynamics provides very high-quality shark cage diving experiences. They operate in a sector where there is rightly a lot of criticism of current practice. Marine Dynamics 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. Marine Dynamics makes a significant contribution to conservation and the local economy.
North Island, Seychelles, Aquatic Species & Habitat Conservation, Africa Award 2018
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 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.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, Wildlife Conservation, Africa Award 2016
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. The judges recognised Ol Pejeta as an outstanding example of how tourism can be used by conservationists to protect habits and species and to uplift local communities.
Sharkspotters, South Africa, Innovation, Africa Award, 2016
Sharkspotter’s solution to safe beaches removes the fear factor from enjoying Cape Town’s beaches while working to protect sharks, particularly the Great White Shark – a globally threatened species. This pioneering and innovative approach netted a Gold Award. Spotters positioned on the mountainsides surrounding swimming beaches lookout 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.