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World Responsible Tourism Awards 2020

November 4, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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Addressing the Challenge of COVID-19 


The ambition of the Awards has always been to recognise businesses and destinations which are making tourism better and to spread good practice – to educate, inspire and challenge others to do likewise or do more.
In this year, when the world faces a global pandemic, it seemed inappropriate to continue with the World Responsible Tourism Awards as usual. It is not Business as Usual, and the crisis is likely to continue for some time.
This year the judges decided to commend businesses and destinations which are taking responsibility and addressing the challenge of Covid-19 and to Highly Commend and Commend businesses and destinations. The judges wanted to recognise those who have taken responsibility and addressed the many challenges of the pandemic.
The usual proviso applied, the judges can only select from amongst those that are nominated. This year it was a one-step process so that some of the nominations came from clients, the public or partners and we did not go back to those nominated with a detailed application form. We knew that everyone was under pressure this year, and we wanted to make the process of application as simple as possible.  There was a considerable variation in the amount of detail in the nominations; this will have affected the judges' decisions. 

These destinations, businesses, organisations and individuals are amongst those who took responsibility in the year of COVID-19 and sought to help others cope in the pandemic.

Business Support – Highly Commended

!Xaus Lodge Community Development Trust, South Africa
The lodge mothballed so that post-pandemic it could return to hosting guests in the desert and provide community income for the two communities and employment for community members.

Planeterra Foundation, Canada
Planeterra raised over $100,000 to address the immediate needs and strengthen their partners' operations and established a Learning Hub to provide online resources, in English and Spanish.

Travelife for Accommodation, UK
Travelife developed a COVID-19 Operational Guidance Kit. Originally written in English, the advice is now available in Spanish, French, Greek and Turkish.



Guyana Tourism Authority; Guyana
JoAnna Haugen, Rooted, Ukraine;
Mali Lošinj Tourist Board, Croatia;
Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia;
SASANE Sisterhood Trekking and Travel, Nepal

One to watch

Greener Guest 

The University of Wales Trinity St David Tourism, UK

Meaningful Connections – Highly Commended

Mejdi, US
Mejdi raised over $40,000 helping local communities; and started a livestreamed weekly travel show hosted by cofounder Aziz Abu Sarah to continue to educate travellers about responsible tourism.

Responsible Tourism Mission Kerala, India
The Responsible Tourism Mission Kerala created more than 1,000 short videos where local artists and artisans introduce themselves, demonstrate their activities and narrate stories.


Secret Paradise Tours, Maldives; Village Ways, UK & India

Domestic Tourism Highly Commended

Intrepid Travel, Global
Intrepid Travel developed more than 75 local trips within its key source markets.


Visit Jyväskylä, Finland

Community Support Highly Commended

Hotel Salut initiative, run by Gremi D’Hotels de Barcelona, Spain The hotels association put hotel beds at the service of the city, with logistical support from the Tourism Directorate of the City Council of Barcelona.

Fund Raising Highly Commended

Animondial, UK
The NGO facilitated skills-based support from travel companies and secured over £300,000 in funding for grassroots /community-based NGOs.

Better Places., Europe
Better Places crowdfunding campaign for international drivers, guides, hotel employees, cooks etc has seen the Dutch responsible tourism pioneer raise €43,000 for different destinations and projects.

Wilderness Safaris, South Africa
Wilderness Safaris’ Covid Relief Conservation Heroes initiative saw over 12,000 people benefit from the company’s community impact support by the end of July.


GIVE Volunteers (Growth International Volunteer Excursions) USA;
Isibindi Africa Lodges, South Africa & Zimbabwe;
Make A Difference (MAD) Travel, Philippines;
Nepal Inside Out Treks & Tours, Nepal;
TravelMatters, UK;
Vivejar, Brazil

Innovation Highly Commended

people and places, e-volunteering UK
peopleandplaces set up an e-volunteering programme with local partners in Morocco, The Gambia and Cambodia, providing English lessons and producing a training manual for schools reopening.

Revitalise UK
Revitalise has adapted and tailored its normal provision of holidays for differently-abled people and carers to provide urgent respite breaks for differently-abled people and carers during COVID-19.

Neighbours and Employees Highly Commended

Aga Khan Trust for Culture, India
AKTC worked with a group of 50 health workers to visit every home, making residents aware of COVID-19 while distributing masks made locally by women previously making tourist souvenirs.

Arena Hospitality Group (AHG), Croatia
AHG prepared 100 lunch packages each day for local hospital staff; donated 35 LCD TV for patients; while 20 housekeepers assisted in the preparation and cleaning of new hospital spaces.

Casa Andina, Peru
Casa Andina provided 3,200 free nights and food to key workers, police and firefighters; and offered flexible all-inclusive accommodation to people struggling to pay their rent

Change-a-life Bwindi (CaLB), Uganda
CaLB raised a crowdfund that supported 16 reformed poachers' families, 13 Batwa families, 10 Batwa teenage girls, 30 women weavers, 16 Tailoring girls and 6 Project staff. They thanked donors by planting 270 indigenous trees and 'naming' the tree after each contributor.

Cocina Collective, Philippines
The Cocina Collective Project worked with a local hotel as well as its staff, chefs and farmers to create a food distribution network, raising £8k and distributing almost 40,000 bags of food.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
The luxury eco-reserve lodge reinvented their early learning space as a feeding scheme hub helping to feed between 1,800 to 2,500 people per day; and also supported local seamstress entrepreneurs to provide over 10,000 washable cloth masks for the community.

Hotels Joining Hands, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Treeline Urban Resort, Mulberry Boutique Hotel and Jaya House Hotels joined forces to provide 450+ meals a day to those people most affected by the pandemic.

Polwaththa Eco-Lodges, Sri Lanka
Polwaththa Eco-Lodges developed a conservation book club and home-schooling resources helping children practice conservation at home; and worked with the local community to build a new sluice gate, aiding better control of water flow to paddy fields, helping support up to 20 local families.

Sandals Foundation, Jamaica
The Sandals Foundation donated JMD $5 million to purchase ventilators for hospitals, and $2 million to support food security and welfare needs in Jamaica.

Uthando, South Africa
Uthando provided emergency relief support and assistance to 35 community development projects in South Africa, raising £100k to provide daily meals to thousands of locals.


#MyTravelPledge Campaign, UK;
Better Places Nederlands;
Bulungula Lodge, South Africa;
Capital Hotel and Spa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
Coffee Shack, South Africa;
Congo Conservation Company, Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic;
Give them a Break, UK;
Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka;
Hackney Tours, UK;
Illikkalam Lakeside Cottages, India;
Laos Buffalo Dairy, Laos;
Limalimo Lodge Ethiopia;
Mfuwe Lodge-The Bushcamp Company, Zambia;
Radisson RED V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa;
Raja Ampat Biodiversity Nature Resort, Indonesia;
Solidary Hotel Project (Hotelaria Solidária), Brazil;
Strawberry Field Centre, UK;
Turisme de Barcelona, Spain;
Wilderness Safaris, South Africa



Hand2Trunk, Thailand;
Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary (KSES), Thailand;
Mahouts Elephant Foundation, Thailand;
World Animal Protection, Global

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