2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards: Wilderness Safaris scoops coveted Overall Winner title

2018-04-19 08:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Wilderness Safaris. (Photo: Supplied)

Cape Town - Wilderness Safaris - an operator of safari camps, lodges and experiences in seven African countries, has grabbed the main prize at the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards, on Wednesday, 18 April.

The tourism company was announced Overall Winner at the prestigious Awards - sponsored by Wesgro and organised by Better Tourism Africa - which forms part of the responsible tourism programme at the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa.

SEE: World Travel Market 2018: What you need to know

Wilderness Safaris (Botswana) received the honour for driving down the consumption of bottled water and 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," say the judges.

Use tourism to make better places

However, when it comes to responsible and sustainable tourism, all of the finalists are winners for their efforts in making positive changes for people and nature, across the continent, through tourism. However, no gold winners were awarded in certain categories where the judges felt like the entrants could do more to meet the awards' standards.  

Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Award's judging panel says “All of those long-listed should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved."

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He says that 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".

"The tourism industry needs to recognise that we must 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," says Goodwin.

He encourages more entries for the Awards, and says that such organisations must continue to take responsibility for increasing the positive impacts of tourism and communicate what they are doing to use tourism to make better places.

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Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa describes the Award winners as leaders in responsible tourism in Africa, saying "They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They provide hope and inspiration for the future of tourism in Africa."

Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, says the Award winners effectively contribute to growing tourism in a sustainable manner. "Today, we celebrate their commitment and achievements," says Harris.

#ARTA18 Winners

In addition to the much-coveted Overall Winner award, tourism establishments competed across five categories including: Decent Work and Social Inclusion, Marine Conservation, Celebrating Cultures, Water Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Finalists flying SA’s flag high at the Awards include Abang Africa Travel, Marine Dynamics Tours, Spier Wine Farm, and Wilderness Safaris.

Here are the winners in each of the categories:

Decent Work and Social Inclusion

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Spier (South Africa)

Silver: PEAK East Africa


Best for Aquatic Species & Habitat Conservation

Gold: North Island (Seychelles)

Silver: Marine Dynamics (South Africa)

Highly commended: All Out Africa (Swaziland/ Mozambique)

Responsible Cultural Experience

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Basecamp Explorer (Kenya)

Best for Innovation in Water Management

Gold: There was no Gold in this category

Silver: Wilderness Safaris (Southern Africa)

Best for Global Goals

Gold: Wilderness Safaris (Botswana)

Silver: Spier (South Africa)

Highly commended: Basecamp Explorer (Kenya)

This year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards categories will be announced at Arabian Travel Market.