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WTM Africa RT Awards Citations 2024

April 12, 2024
Harold Goodwin
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 See WTM Africa's coverage of the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards here.

Citations WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards 2024

These are the reasons that the judges chose to recognise these businesses and organisations in the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards.  The Gold winners are automatically entered into the Global Responsible Tourism Awards.

EMPLOYING AND UPSKILLING LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Tourism creates diverse employment opportunities, and local employment has long been recognised as a very important way of ensuring that local communities benefit from visitors and tourism businesses. However, there are still many challenges; employment inequalities, instability through seasonal variations and lack of growth opportunities, to name a few. We are looking for tourism businesses that are making a conscious effort to recruit, train and promote local people to provide long-term stable employment and opportunities for local communities.

Gold: Grootbos Lodge & the Green Futures College – South Africa

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve & Grootbos Foundation

Grootbos has been conserving a growing part of the fynbos overlooking Walker Bay since 1994, generating funds for conservation and upskilling and empowering people in its neighbouring communities. The Lodge upskills, trains and mentors its staff and supports and promotes local producers. Through the Grootbos Foundation, it provides free skills and business training for employment and ‘economic dignity’ for local people. Its Green Futures College covers the training costs, uniforms, transport, food, stipends and childcare for between 20 and 24 unemployed people each year. The Grootbos Foundation, funded by the business and other donors, has provided fully funded training to 92 horticulture graduates since 2003, 115 hospitality graduates since 2014, entrepreneurship training for 849; seed funding and mentorship to 189 independent small businesses, and trained 20 female biodiversity stewards now working in two independent contractor teams in the local landscape. This citation cannot capture all that has resulted from the efforts of a tourism enterprise on the fynbos, largely devoid of the charismatic megafauna found on safari and in the ocean,

Silver: Save Wildlife - Uganda

Wildlife Uganda

Wildlife Uganda works with communities to develop alternative livelihoods around Queen Elizabeth National Park. They train people over 18 to make high-quality handicrafts, weave baskets, and carve animals; and they design African fabrics to match the demand of tourists. Since the project started in 2021 after six tree-climbing lions were poisoned, since then, none has been killed. Save Wildlife Uganda has three hundred families working in shifts at the Ishasha Community Centre and

five hundred being trained in sewing, guiding and weaving. With the money earned by the centre and donations from visitors, they have been able to enrol some 200 children in school.

The applicant wrote:

“I have entered this category to show the world how human beings can coexist with wildlife and how training, skills, employment and income-generating activities can change the mindset of communities towards wildlife or conservation in general. Also I have entered this category to demonstrate how some conservation challenges can be solved without force or firing guns. Finally, I wanted to show the entire world how tourists can play a crucial role in conservation once they get connected with local people or communities around protected areas.”

One to Watch Matoke Tours – Uganda

 www.matoketours.com

This DMC emphasises the importance of human connections in travel and tourism, bridging barriers between cultures and driving economic development. Through the Matoke Academy, they support and use the Ukarimu open-source curriculum, and they have a Women in Tourism initiative providing guide and driver training and are developing women-only itineraries. The judges would like to see a further entry for the awards when there is data on impact.

One to Watch HBD Principe - São Tomé and Príncipe

www.hbdprincipe.com

With four boutique hotel properties as well as organic agricultural operations HBD is a major employer with 594 colleagues. The majority of employees are from and live in the same geography as they work, and the expatriate staff has been reduced by 45% since 2019.  This means the economic impact of HBD is primarily local, and all of them are paid above the minimum wage. They invest in a clinic, training and development. The judges noted that Matoke uses Weeva data tracking and hoped that we would see a further application with more data in the near future.

MAKING TOURISM INCLUSIVE
The travel industry is lagging behind other sectors in advancing inclusion. The travel and tourism sector needs to widen its offer. The need for action is more pressing than ever.  Inclusive travel ensures that all travellers feel welcome and included and can have an appropriate experience in a destination. It fosters belonging and empowers individuals to sign up for new experiences. We are looking for businesses that are avidly working to ensure that inclusion has a stronger place in tourism’s future.

Gold: Warrior on Wheels Foundation – South Africa

www.warrioronwheels.co.za

Warrior on Wheels provides sport and adventure experiences for children with disabilities, uplifting and empowering them and “changing perceptions of ability and bridging gaps between able-bodied and differently-abled communities.” It is a registered not-for-profit reliant on sponsorships, volunteers, and partnerships with adventure hosts to provide regular adventures, experiences, and outings to differently-abled children and their families. These have included zip lining, river rafting, cycling, surfing, wildlife safaris, boat cruises, helicopter and plane rides.  “As at the start of 2024, Warrior On Wheels is 8 years old, we have 100+ families on our invitation mailing list, and we have hosted 89+ experiences with an average of 12 to 15 families attending each event.”

One to Watch: Bontel Adventures – Kenya

www.bonteladventures.com 

Bontel Adventures told us about their impressive plans to offer inclusive travel experiences, designing “tour packages with inclusivity in mind, considering the diverse needs and preferences of our travellers”. They are collaborating with advocacy groups to provide training and sensitivity programmes; “staff undergo extensive training and sensitivity programs to ensure that they are equipped to assist travellers with diverse needs and backgrounds. This includes training on disability awareness, cultural sensitivity, and providing assistance with respect and empathy.” The judges hope to see a further entry in a couple of years’ time with some impact evidence.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE? 

The results of climate change can manifest in many ways, and the tourism industry is exceptionally vulnerable. Each year, the impact becomes more evident and, for many, more disastrous. Droughts, floods, wildfires, and extreme weather conditions devastate communities and businesses in destinations across the world. They are no longer unusual or isolated incidences. We are looking for businesses and destinations actively contributing to the decarbonisation of tourism operations and exploring innovative ways to protect against threats to ensure business continuity.

Gold:  Ecodrop – Zimbabwe

www.ecodrop.co.zw

Ecodrop’s mission is to eliminate single-use plastic bottles from the tourism sector across Southern Africa. Their eco-friendly alternative provides purified water through Reverse Osmosis dispensers and top-tier, reusable drinking bottles designed for durability and convenience. Refill stations are located in hotels, airports, and popular tourist attractions. Visitors and locals purchase a sturdy, refillable bottle equipped with a unique QR code that can be scanned at any of the refill stations to fill their bottles with purified cold water for the duration of their stay. Ecodrop has removed the use of 72 860 plastic bottles in Victoria Falls between April 2023 and January 2024. Ecodrop has seen a 30% increase on a month-to-month basis since early 2023. 500ml water bottles cost 20c and were sold to the end user for $2 - $3. The judges were impressed by the innovative Ecodrop system, which can be implemented at the destination level, reducing waste and demand for oil to make plastic bottles. The concept has been proven at Victoria Falls; the judges will be interested to see how far and fast it spreads.

Silver: Century City Conference Centre – South Africa

www.ccconferencecentre.co.za/

The Century City Conference Centre invested in solar in 2016, reducing annual carbon emissions by 17%. They are presently installing inverters and batteries to counter the impact of load shedding and managing air-conditioning and lighting; LED, throughout, is controlled by occupancy sensors to reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions; 55% of their supply spend goes to local suppliers, creating employment and reducing transport carbon emissions. Using Weeva’s system, they now have a baseline of CO2e per delegate, enabling them to measure reduction year-on-year through active management. Very unusually, they have dual plumbing systems in all their properties, resulting in a 50% reduction in potable water usage. Century City demonstrates what can be achieved when management makes A sustained effort to reduce emissions and waste.

One to Watch: Sunsail and The Moorings

www.sunsail.com/za/

The judges were pleased with this application's broad triple-bottom-line approach to addressing sustainability challenges in our rapidly warming world. This is a yacht charter business offering experiences on the sea around the world with eight head-office locations. They have increased their use of solar power and, by replacing traditional engines, reduced their customers’ fuel consumption by around 1.3 gallons per week, saving cumulatively over 1,600 gal/7,273L of fossil fuel in 2023. The judges suggest that they enter as a global group in the Rest of the World regional awards and quantify the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved.

NATURE POSITIVE

Wildlife and the natural environment are important drivers for travel. The travel and tourism sector depends on nature's beauty to provide its goods and services, yet tourism can have negative impacts on the places we visit. The tourism sector has a responsibility to contribute to the reversal of biodiversity loss and protect nature for future generations by promoting a regenerative approach to tourism. We are looking for businesses that act as guardians of biodiversity and take a regenerative approach to their operations.

Gold: Denis Private Island – Seychelles

www.denisisland.com

At the heart of this island destination is a sustained regeneration project; the conservation initiatives are funded by earnings from the small eco-lodge on the island. Palm trees and copra plantations are being removed.  Natural vegetation has been restored, non-native predators have been removed, three critically endangered bird species have been reintroduced, and the sea around the island has been recognized as a marine protected area. “The island's owners are proud Seychellois and passionate conservationists. They want to recreate and preserve an island reminiscent of the Seychelles of their youth and help secure the future of critically endangered species of Seychelles wildlife

Silver: ! Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre – South Africa

www.khwattu.org/

This San heritage and education centre was established in 1999 at Grootwater, then a degraded wheat and sheep farm in the endangered Fynbos. The San restored the land so that it could be used to share the traditional San hunter-gatherer culture, removing invasive species and reintroducing Eland, an important species to the San culture, and a few other species. Nature took its course, and regeneration followed. More recently, they have developed a “Food from our Ancestors” initiative. Archaeologists have revealed that San ancestors foraged plants, animals, and seafood along the West Coast for thousands of years before being displaced by farmers about 370 years ago. The “sustainable use of biodiversity in !Khwa ttu’s WILD Food restaurant menu supports the restoration of climate-resilient biodiversity, which addresses habitat fragmentation and degradation, thereby helping to address climate change, develop a conservation economy and support livelihoods to increase resilience.

One to Watch HBD Príncipe - São Tomé and Príncipe

www.hbdprincipe.com

HBD Principe is an ecotourism and agroforestry group that has protected 1,041 hectares from becoming palm oil plantations since 2010. These hectares are now used for conservation, two boutique hotels (Sundy Praia and Roça Sundy), organic agroforestry, and organic horticulture. The judges hope to see a further application for recognition with evidence of conservation impact, which, of course, takes time.

One to Watch Plett Ocean – South Africa

www.plettoceanfestival.co.za

The judges were intrigued by the way in which marine science and conservation activity, including citizen science, has been woven into a festival of marine activities and excursions, including beach clean ups. This is clearly a replicable approach. 2024 will see the third Plettenberg Bay Ocean Festival and Marine Science Symposium, the judges hope that they will see a further entry for recognition with more evidence of the nature positive impact, which will take time.

 

INCREASING LOCAL SOURCING – CREATING SHARED VALUE

As one of the world’s leading sectors of consumption, tourism provides many economic benefits, including employment and business opportunities. Far too often, the money does recirculate with the local economy location or provide any benefit to the local people or environment. Tourism businesses can grow the local economy by spending on local goods and services and procuring services and products locally. We are looking for businesses that have local purchasing practices in place and are actively working to create and promote local businesses and sole traders through their own supply chain and encouraging visitors to buy locally produced crafts and souvenirs.

Gold: Okavango Gin

www.okavangogin.com

“Okavango Gin was founded out of a love and passion for the pristine wilderness of the Okavango Delta … by a handful of like-minded naturalists, safari guides, botany enthusiasts and hospitality experts” Using locally harvested Mophane seeds and traditional Marula Beer sourced from local women in Gweta, distilled off-grid, with gin bottle sleeves sewn locally and recycling gin bottles in Botswana this new gin has the authenticity of the Delta and is a souvenir to remind travellers of their wilderness experience at home. Recognising the “need for a more innovative approach to tourism, beyond the “bums in beds”, Okavango Gin has demonstrated how a quality local product can displace imported brands, becoming the house gin of most lodges in the Okavango Delta. The business started with one full-time working director it now directly employs six and creates additional employment in its supply chain and distribution, in 2023 revenue grew 75%. The judges were delighted to see this innovative approach to creating additional and shared value from tourism. In 2022, they won a Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirit Competition. ,

 

Silver:  Muhabura Cultural Experience and Craft Centre – Uganda

www.muhaburaculturalexperienceandcraftcentre.com

www.raisingtheartisansat.com

Muhabura is a social enterprise community-based tourism enterprise established to benefit local communities through the sale of locally produced goods and services to visitors to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Virunga. Muhabura is an initiative of Raising the Artisans, selling organically grown coffee, honey, bananas, carvings and hand-crafted baskets. Their vision is to contribute to the social and economic transformation of marginalised people living around national parks. Local guides introduce tourists to the cultural experiences, coffee growing and Batwa Bushmen Trails. The judges would like to have seen some evidence of impact, for example, numbers employed and benefiting, and revenue. However, this is a highly replicable model and we hope that this award might encourage others to do something similar.

CHAMPIONING CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Visiting a country goes far beyond visiting the honeypot landmarks. We travel to experience other peoples' places, climates, built heritage, lived culture and the world's diverse nature. By experiencing cultures other than our own, we broaden our understanding and respect for one another.  We are looking for examples of destinations and businesses that are actively working to support the preservation and celebration of culture, and to create meaningful connections for visitors.

Gold: Trip to Help - Kenya & Tanzania through an online agency registered in Spain

www.triptohelp.org

Trip to Help is a boutique travel agency operating in Kenya and Tanzania, and Morrocco from this year. Their strap line states their mission: to enable people to Travel Consciously, Sustainably and Fairly. They offer “unique experiences… with positive social, and cultural impact. They work “side by side with locals, community projects, cooperatives or NGOs. … They are at the center of this journey. They are not just guides.” The people they work with make a living wage, and 80% of what the traveller pays goes to the local community. Activities led by salaried Maasai guides who receive salaries and cultural immersion experiences are organized and conducted by Maasai families who host visitors, retaining 100% of the proceeds from each activity. Through tourism activity, supplemented by private donations and funds, they support over 3000 children aged 4 to 16 in accessing free education, including English language instruction, in Maasai areas

Silver: Traditional African Homestays - South Africa

www.tgchomestays.com

Traditional African Homestays offer much more than accommodation. They use tourism to uplift communities, offering authentic experiences in rural communities since 2026 and now operate in four villages. A percentage of the accommodation charge goes to a community fund and a skills development fund to benefit the local community. Experiences include traditional floor making, cooking, mat making, beading, dancing and beer tasting, walks, and an operating to immerse oneself in village life. Local guides enable travellers to learn the traditions and culture of the community of which the visitor is temporarily a part. The judges expect that this approach will be taken up in other communities and give value to local cultures, encouraging young people to see opportunities in the villages and choose to stay rather than migrate to the cities

One to Watch: Come Make We Go – Nigeria

www.comemakewego.africa

"Come Make We Go" is a Nigerian Pidgin phrase that translates to "Come let's go". Their mission is to leverage tourism and partnerships to promote the social and economic well-being of African communities, particularly by empowering and involving young people. They have lobbied the government to provide electricity, worked to improve accommodation and manage waste and launched the "Iyake International Festival". The judges look forward to seeing this initiative again when it has been able to quantify its impacts.

One to Watch: Cultural Oneness Festival Ghana

www.africantourismboard.africa

The purpose of the Cultural Oneness Festival is to unite the continental Africans and diasporans as one people by celebrating Africa’s diverse heritage while emphasizing its shared cultural identity beyond linguistic and tribal differences, to foster unity and to celebrate the richness of the world's most culturally diverse continent. cultural heritage. The festival seeks to identify and promote investment opportunities for diasporans to empower the communities of Northern Ghana and beyond economically. The judges were impressed by the idea and look forward to seeing it again with evidence of impact.

© 2024 The Responsible Tourism Partnership 
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