South Africa lauded for promoting responsible tourism

5 November 2014

South Africa continues to excel as a prime tourist destination. Several local hospitality and tourist attraction have received accolades at the World Responsible Tourism Awards held in the UK.

Founded in 2004, the awards are held each year to celebrate and inspire change in the tourism industry. They also aim to develop quality tourism products that promote cultural integrity and environmental protection. The 2014 awards were held in London today.

The most coveted award on the day went to South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA) “for demonstrating that animal attractions can liberate previously captive wildlife and, without petting or exploitation, be commercially successful’, according to organisers. Along with World Animal Protection, SAASA scooped gold in the Best animal welfare initiative category.

Not to be outdone, Hotel Verde in Cape Town won walked away with gold in the Best City Hotel for Responsible Tourism category. The V&A Waterfront, also in Cape Town, walked away with gold for Best Destination for Responsible Tourism and Mdumbi Backpackers in the Eastern Cape was a finalist in the Best for Poverty Reduction category.

Congratulating the winners, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said the awards are significant for the entire tourism industry in South Africa. “It shows that South Africa is taking its place as a world leader in responsible tourism,’ he said.

“Many travellers are now making decisions based on fair trade, community benefits and sustainable development practices. In response to this, more of our destinations are implementing sustainable principles like recycling greywater and reducing energy use. These establishments are an inspiration to others to follow suit.’

In the Tourism Act of 2014, South Africa has stressed the need for tourism establishments to conserve their environment and also consider economic and social elements of their businesses. In addition, South Africa is one of the few countries in the world – only second in the world after Brazil – to develop a National Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism.

“I believe we can do more to educate and activate travel consumers to support responsible tourism. This will accelerate the implementation of responsible tourism principles by destination operators even further,’ Hanekom said.

Adding, Hanekom said South Africa will look at ways to incentivise the retrofitting of tourism attractions and accommodation facilities.

Below is a complete list of winners in respective categories:
Best animal welfare initiative, supported by Born Free Foundation

  • Gold winners: World Animal Protection, and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance

Best aviation programme for carbon reduction, sponsored by Visit Gozo

  • Gold winner: Thomson Airways

Best for beach tourism, sponsored by Jersey

  • Gold winner: Chole Mjini Conservation & Development Co. Ltd
  • Silver winner: Casa de las Olas

Best city hotel, sponsored by Los Cabos Tourism Board

  • Gold winner: Hotel Verde Silver winners: ITC Grand Chola, and Jurys Inn Brighton

Best cultural heritage attraction, sponsored by Wightlink

  • Gold winner: (no gold winner this year)
  • Silver winner: Festivals of Puebla

Best destination, sponsored by Visit Norway

  • Gold winner: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Best for engaging people & culture, sponsored by New York State Division of Tourism

  • Gold winner: Kutch Adventures
  • Silver winner: Footsteps Eco Lodge

People’s Choice for responsible tourism, sponsored by Slovenia Tourist Board

  • Winner: Nam Nern Night Safari
  • Finalists: Chepu Adventures Ecolodge, Snowcarbon, TUI Nederland, People and places, ReefCI, Village Ways, The Great Projects, and Mara Naboisho

Best for people with disabilities, sponsored by Enable Holidays

  • Gold winners: Campo and Parque dos Sonhos, and Cavan town & Environs
  • Silver winner: Native Charming Hotels and Accessible Tourism

Best for poverty reduction, sponsored by Tobago House of Assembly

  • Gold winner: Adventure Alternative
  • Silver winners: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and Mdumbi Backpackers

Best short film for responsible tourism, sponsored by Fair Trade Tourism

  • Gold winner: Travel Oregon’s “John Day River Territory”
  • Silver winners: GLP Films’ “Basecamp Foundation – Pioneering Sustainable Tourism in Kenya’s Masai Mara”, and World Wildlife Fund’s “The Guardians”

Best for wildlife conservation, sponsored by Discover Dominica

  • Gold winner: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours
  • Silver winners: Chambal Safari Hotels Pvt Ltd, and On Track Safaris

SAinfo reporter