ARTA2016-500pxA lodge set in the Ethiopian Highlands, two national tourism ministries, and a beach safety organisation that protects both sharks and people are among the organisations selected as finalists for the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2016, sponsored by Wesgro and organised by Better Tourism Africa.  But who will take the top spot?

With nine categories to be won, as well as the much-coveted top spot of ‘Overall Winner’ 2016, the competition just got real for the finalists announced today.

Following an intense debate on the Judging Day in Johannesburg on 1st April, an expert panel of 15 Judges from across the industry have finally selected the finalists from around Africa, including organisations from Botswana, Kenya and Mozambique.

The finalists for the 2016 African Responsible Tourism Awards are:

The supporters of the African Responsible Tourism Awards are:

The award winners will be announced at the 2016 African Responsible Tourism Awards on Thursday 7th April 2016 at 16.30 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town. The awards are part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa, which includes two seminar sessions for accommodation providers and tour operators, three panel discussions on wildlife and tourism,  responsible tourism and resilience, and the responsible business practices and the bottom-line, and a speed-marketing session focusing on ethical eateries.

Commenting on the finalists, Heidi van der Watt, organiser of the Awards and managing director of Better Tourism Africa, said:

Represented in this year’s finalists are some of the most trendsetting examples of responsible tourism in Africa!  From accessible leisure activities to truly empowering people practices, from co-management of conservation areas to revival of a traditional dance form – the Shortlist has a lot to say about where responsible tourism on the continent is, and where it is going next.”

Reflecting on the decisions made on the Judging Day was Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel and Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism:

This is not just the Judges’ Shortlist – the judges can only select from amongst those who are nominated and make the considerable effort required to apply. For each finalist we’ve chosen, there are many others doing ground-breaking work we’re looking forward to seeing who will be nominated next year. I’d like to thank all those who came forward to share their inspiring stories with the Judging Panel, and hope they’ll join in celebrating the winners on Thursday 7th April.”

Looking forward to the ceremony is Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro:

We would like to congratulate all those selected by the Judges for the African Responsible Tourism Awards Shortlist this year. These forward thinking and innovative organisations are true examples of how we can take the tourism industry to new heights in a sustainable and attractive manner. We look forward to the awards ceremony on 7 April at World Travel Market Africa, where we will celebrate the winners in person.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

High resolution jpg images of logos and interviews available upon request.

Note to Editors

Official hashtag: #ARTA16

Official twitter handle: @RTAwardsAfrica

For media enquiries or information contact:

Better Tourism Africa

Jacques Maritz


Tel: +27 (0)83 389 2523



Judy Lain


Tel: + 27832772066


About the awards

For more information on the African Responsible Tourism Awards visit

The African Responsible Tourism Awards celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism on the African continent and showcase tourism organisations which are, actively and demonstrably, taking responsibility for making tourism stronger. The first African Responsible Tourism Awards is part of the family of regional Responsible Tourism Awards which culminate each year with the World Responsible Tourism Awards which are presented at WTM in London on World Responsible Tourism Day.

The awards are organised by Better Tourism Africa, under license by Responsible Travel.

The awards ceremony is hosted by World Travel Market Africa, and will take place on Thursday 07 April. Winners in certain categories in the African awards will automatically qualify for the World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Media partners for the event are African Independent, Responsible Traveller, Socially Unforgettable and Studico.


The Western Cape is a region of unlimited potential, and this translates into unlimited opportunity. Whether you’re interested in travel, business or export, Cape Town and the Western Cape has something for you. Let Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, help you uncover the opportunities.

About Better Tourism Africa

Better Tourism Africa (previously the International Centre for Responsible Tourism – South Africa), a non-profit organisation established in 2006, works alongside government, the private sector and communities in Africa to implement the objectives of Responsible Tourism as described in the Cape Town Declaration. We believe tourism should be harnessed to create better places for people to live and to visit.  Our work includes advocacy, training and capacity-building, research and technical advisory services.

About Responsible Travel

Responsible Travel is the world’s leading market place for small and tailor-made tour operators, all screened for their commitment to responsible tourism.

Responsible Travel connects these operators with people looking for real & authentic holidays.  Starting with just 2 tour operators in 2001 we’ve become the leading place to find tours from over 400 small & specialist tour companies in 197 countries.  As tourism grows globally the opportunity for authentic experiences diminishes, and the impacts of tourism on places & local people (not always positive) grows. We’ve found the secret to authentic travel is treating local people & places responsibly.

In addition Responsible Travel:

  • campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.
  • is publishing an expanding collection of open, honest travel guides

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism.

The company is based in Brighton’s North Laine district, England.

About Thebe Reed Exhibitions
Thebe Reed Exhibitions is a joint venture agreement between Thebe Tourism Group Pty Limited and Reed Exhibitions. It is Southern Africa’s most forward thinking and successful exhibition and venue management company responsible for exhibitions such as the Africa Travel Week consisting of WTM Africa, ILTM Africa and ibtm Africa; the Business Entrepreneurship and Franchise Expo; Decorex SA; 100% Design South Africa; Gauteng Motor Fest; the Investment and Property Expo; Mediatech Africa and Sports,Africa Automation Fair and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE). Thebe Reed Exhibitions aims to provide the best platform for showcasing industries and nurturing business and networking opportunities on the African continent.

About Africa Travel Week
Africa Travel Week comprises three co-located shows – WTM Africa, IBTM Africa and ILTM Africa – encompassing Africa’s inbound and outbound markets for general leisure travel, luxury tourism, and the MICE/business travel sector under RTE’s established portfolios of WTM (World Travel Market), ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) and IBTM (Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings).
Dates for Africa Travel Week (#africatravelweek) 2016 are: 04 – 08 April 2016

About World Travel Market Africa
WTM Africa in Cape Town, South Africa attracts more than 3,000 of the most senior executives interested in the African travel industry. US$ 333 million new business was conducted at the event in 2015 between 572 exhibitors and197 hosted buyers and 418 Buyers Club Members, thanks in part to 7,600 pre-scheduled business appointments.
WTM Africa is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s WTM Portfolio of events, which also includes World Travel Market, Arabian Travel Market and World Travel Market Africa.