Better Tourism Africa

Wilderness Safaris triumphs in the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards

Wilderness Safaris, operator of safari camps, lodges and experiences in seven Africa countries, was announced Overall Winner this afternoon at the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards in Cape Town, sponsored by Wesgro.

Wilderness Safaris took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of finalists gathered from around Africa at a special ceremony at World Travel Market Africa 2018.

Says Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel. “All of those longlisted should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved.  As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards the 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 Global Sustainable Development Goals are now the touchstone for both governments and private sector; action by businesses will be critical to attaining the targets set for 2030. 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 wellbeing – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards categories will be announced at Arabian Travel Market next week.

The judges were mindful of the Awards made in previous years in Africa and in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, of which these African Awards are a part. The Gold and Silver Award winners should be particularly proud of what they have achieved; they have been recognised as being leaders in a Responsible Tourism movement where more is expected each year.

If when reflecting on the winners of these and the World Responsible Tourism Awards you know of others you feel should be recognised then please encourage them to enter, the judges can only choose from among those who enter and complete the application process. We encourage them, and other businesses, to continue to take responsibility for increasing the positive, and reducing the negative, impacts of tourism; to communicate what they are doing to use tourism to make better places and to consider entering the Responsible Tourism Awards when there is an appropriate category for their business or organisation.”

Speaking before a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes the Award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa:

Our winners have an ethos that extend beyond the commercial – linking thriving business with the wellbeing of local people and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate bottom lines that balance people, planet and profit, and won’t undermine sustainability in the pursuit of superior product quality. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They provide hope and inspiration for the future of tourism in Africa.”

The Awards were sponsored by the Wesgro. Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, said:

“As the proud headline sponsor of the inaugural African Responsible Tourism Awards, Wesgro is delighted to pay tribute to this year’s inspirational winners. As the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we continue to show our commitment to responsible tourism development both in our province and on the African continent.

We are pleased to recognise the vision of the Award winners for providing leadership in their respective sectors throughout Africa, and effectively contributing to growing tourism in a sustainable mannerToday, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.

Overall Winner: Wilderness Safaris (Botswana)

supported by Wesgro

The judges were impressed by the success of Wilderness Safaris in driving down the consumption of bottled water and the consequent 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.

Reporting on the Global Goals

supported by BulkSMS

For the Global Goals category, the judges were looking for tourism organisations that leverage tourism to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and then transparently report on the impacts of their responsible tourism efforts.  The SDGs are a set of 17 interconnected transformational goals with 169 related targets that explain what needs to be achieved across social, environmental and economic aspects. Most tourism businesses do not yet acknowledge the private sector as a critical actor in the attainment of the Global Goals or are not fully engaged in tracking or reporting progress against the targets.  To encourage greater rigour in reporting positive change against global sustainable development priorities, this new category will be a standard feature of future African Responsible Tourism Awards.  To determine the winners the judges reviewed the responses of all contenders to a specific question in the application form about the SDGs.

Gold: Wilderness Safaris (Botswana)

Contact:  Tarryn Gibson   I   Email:   I   Twitter: @WeAreWilderness

Wilderness demonstrated that active engagement with the SDGs is their business imperative. There is clear, credible evidence of the alignment between the company’s efforts and the relevant SDGs and specific targets. Performance is transparently reported.

Target 12.6 under SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production encourages companies to adopt sustainability practices AND to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle. As a company listed on both the Botswana and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges, Wilderness Safaris is required to produce an Annual Integrated Report (AIR). The Global Reporting Initiative, widely recognized as best practice for triple bottom line reporting, guides the preparation of the Wilderness Safaris’ AIR. By identifying relevant SDGs and detailing how the business is working to contribute to them, the company goes beyond compliance requirements for listed companies.

The quantification and reporting of performance against indicators is fundamental to the SDGs. Wilderness Safaris’ disclosure of progress against indicators for carbon emissions, water and waste usage and compliance with the Group Environmental Minimum Standards is exemplary.  Furthermore, in addition to reporting on areas of good performance areas of weakness are also indicated. Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to gaining shareholder and stakeholder trust through transparency is noteworthy. The annual report and a consumer and guest-focused version (Sustainability Review) available on the website, and the Sustainability Review in all guest rooms.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Silver: Spier (South Africa)

Contact:  Heidi Newton-King l Email: l Twitter: @spierwinefarm l

External evaluations by the likes of Fair Trade Tourism and the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) have given Spier vast experience in collecting and reporting evidence against a range of sustainability indicators.  This proficiency was evident in a wide-ranging response on the SDG component of the questionnaire. Spier articulated how its work relates to all but one of the 17 Global Goals, supplying credible and well-thought-out examples of how its sustainability efforts link to the SDGs.  The entry clearly shows that the business is skilled at quantifying impact; hence the judges would have liked more clarity on key indicators related to SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Highly commended: Basecamp Explorer (Kenya)

Contact:  Petronilla Gichimu  l  Email:  l Twitter: @basecampexplore  l

Though Basecamp Explorers corporate documents and communication platforms are not explicit on the SDGs, the judges wanted to commend Basecamp Explorer for a comprehensive and sound response to the SDG in the entry.  There is also evidence of quantification of impact. The judges believe that, given specific effort, a good basis for stronger integration of the SDGs in the corporate strategy and future Global Goals reporting is in place.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Decent Work and Inclusion

The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff, and a creative and long-term approach to including local producers in the supply chain.

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Spier (South Africa)

Contact:  Heidi Newton-King  l  Email:  l  Twitter: @spierwinefarm l

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Silver: PEAK East Africa (Kenya)

Contact:  Mehalah Beckett l  Email: l  Twitter: @PeakDMC I

Spier in the Western Cape of South Africa and PEAK East Africa in Kenya have much in common when it comes to creating shared business value.  Both businesses demonstrated a comprehensive approach to improving working conditions, including various internal engagement tools, training, employee wellness and health programmes, staff awards and beyond-the-norm employee benefits. A strong commitment to going beyond compliance in relation to pay, health and safety, freedom of association and fostering purposeful work environments is evident at both Spier and PEAK East Africa.   To track achievements, employees are annually asked for feedback and suggestions, and results compared year-to year.  Both achieve exceptionally high staff engagement and positive feedback on the general working environment in these surveys.

Spier’s inclusive business philosophy is actioned through a 30km preferential radius for recruitment, a focus on youth employment, providing internships and sourcing more than 70% of goods and services from the Winelands district and Cape Metro.  The judges thought that allowing staff to spend individual learning budgets on sustainability solutions at home is a constructive and practical way for employees to apply work-based sustainability learnings outside of the workplace.

Extensive engagement with and support for local NGOs spoke volumes for PEAK East Africa’s commitment to an ethos of ‘Purpose beyond Profit’. They contract locally-owned and marginalised suppliers preferentially, and their Supplier Code of Conduct encourages suppliers to operate in a more environmentally and socially responsible way.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Responsible Cultural Experience

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Basecamp Explorer (Kenya)

Contact:  Petronilla Gichimu  l  Email:  l Twitter: @basecampexplore  l

For Basecamp enabling tourist to engage with local people and culture is fundamental to their vision of demonstrating how the conservation of ecosystems requires co-existence between wildlife and humans. They regard consistent support for local people and cultures as fundamental to preserving the heritage of the land to ensure it remains habitable for people and wildlife. By including the cultural aspects of the local Maasai, Basecamp raises the standard of living of the Maasai people and provides a richer better guest experiences for their clients. Basecamp established the Basecamp Maasai Brand (BMB), a community-based handicraft workshop that empowers 158 Maasai women while preserving the traditional Maasai beading practice. As a fair-trade practice, the Maasai women receive about 55 percent of the proceeds which goes towards providing food, clothing and shelter for their families while the remaining 45 percent goes towards management costs and purchase of materials. Basecamp also supports a capacity building program through education sponsorship at Koiyaki Guiding School (KGS).  Over the last 13 years, KGS has trained over 270 students, 20% of whom are young Maasai girls, young Maasai men and women continue to wear their traditional costumes and jewellery.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Ones to watch

The judges wanted to recognise Nande Junias Explorer Tours (Namibia), for his work in developing township tours for community upliftment in Mondesa Township in Swakopmund; and Abang Africa for their new Goedverwacht mission village tour and homestays.

Best for Innovation in Water Management

Gold: there was no Gold in this category

Silver: Wilderness Safaris (Southern Africa)

Contact:  Tarryn Gibson   I   Email:   I   Twitter: @WeAreWilderness  I

The judges were looking for innovative and replicable practices with measurable achievement in reducing water consumption. Wilderness Safaris has a Group Environmental Impact System (GEMS) and in 2012 they determined to reduce the consumption of bottled water across their whole operation. They committed earlier than most to reduce plastic water bottle usage by introducing reusable water bottles and reverse osmosis water filtering systems in all their camps. Wilderness Safaris have reduced bottled water consumption across all their camps by 77%. In 2012 they were consuming two litres of bottled water per bed night in Botswana, in 2017 they used an average of 0.23 litres per bednight. This well exceeded their group target of 0.8 litres per bednight. Across the group in 2012 average bottled water consumption was 2.7 litres per bednight by 2017 they had reduced it to 0.46 litres per bednight. Their new group target is 0.4 litres per bednight by 2023.

In addition to its success in reducing the consumption of bottled water Wilderness Safaris is fitting tap aerators, flow restrictors, efficient shower heads, dual flush toilets, recycles grey water, monitors leakages. Further, Wilderness, along with another industry leader in sustainable tourism, is developing benchmark water usage figures for safari camps. The judges were pleased to see the commitment to reduce water bottle use across the whole operation and the consequent reduction in plastic waste and carbon emissions. Water scarcity and security is a major issue in Africa and the judges were surprised and disappointed not to receive more applications addressing water sourcing, the reduction of water use and grey water recycling and the disposal of wastewater.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Best for Aquatic Species & Habitat Conservation

supported by Responsible Traveller

Gold: North Island (Seychelles)

Contact:  Tarryn Retief   I   Email:  I  Facebook: @NorthIslandSeychelles  I

Twenty years ago, North Island was purchased and a set of Conservation Goals – marine, terrestrial and island sustainability – we established. A key goal was to protect the four coastal beaches and safeguard the nesting sites of two species of sea turtles, the Critically-Endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Endangered Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). The turtles have been monitored since 1998 and there has been systematic data collection since 2004. There are daily beach patrols, nest monitoring and tagging and only turtle-friendly light is allowed.  Since 2004 the number of Hawksbills using the island has doubled and the Green Turtles have increased six-fold. North Island now has the highest density of nesting Green Turtles in the inner islands of the Seychelles. The judges were impressed by the success of this luxury resort in increasing the population of turtles and its ambition to become a gazetted marine reserve in pursuit of which biannual scientific marine surveys to quantify the diversity and abundance of reef fish; marine invertebrates; hard and soft corals and predatory species have been conducted since 2011. The resort has a strict Fishing and Menu Policy which precludes the capture of fish known to be either locally or internationally threatened. North Island demonstrates the significant contribution a commercial tourism resort can make to conservation and we hope that it will inspire others to do more.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Silver: Marine Dynamics (South Africa)

Contact:  Brenda du Toit  I  Email:  I   Twitter: @MarineDynamics  I

Marine Dynamics has been awarded many times for its achievements in conserving the African penguins and white sharks and in combatting marine pollution. They have contributed to both the practice and science of marine, conservation partnering with national and international universities to understand the ecology of the species and the habitat. The judges were impressed by the continuing commitment to using tourism to fund conservation science and the success of practical interventions through the penguin sanctuary and the penguin nesting boxes. Marine Dynamics has long been educating the domestic and international tourists it attracts about the importance of conserving marine species and encouraging them to contribute to their conservation. This Award recognises their continuing and growing success in the battle to conserve marine life and in particular their DEEP three-year environmental education programme with young learners, the 3000 children in their outreach programmes and the 30,000 reached through their annual competition.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Highly commended: All Out Africa (Swaziland/Mozambique)

Contact:   Ginger Green I Email:   marketing@alloutafrica   I   Twitter: @alloutafrica  I

In 2017 All Out Africa won Gold for habitat and species conservation in the African Responsible Tourism Awards. This year the judges wanted to commend them for the publication of a paper on the research undertaken through their volunteer and science programme on “Satellite tagging highlights the importance of productive Mozambican coastal waters to the ecology and conservation of whale sharks” and their advances in local educational outreach work.

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winner

Finalists for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards announced

A luxury island in the Seychelles, a cultural experience among the Maasai in Kenya and a township experience in Namibia are among the organisations selected as finalists for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards (sponsored by Wesgro and organised by Better Tourism Africa). Who will take the top spots?

With five categories as well as the much-coveted ‘Overall Winner’, the competition has stepped up a notch for the finalists announced today.

Following an intense debate on the Judging Day, which was held in Johannesburg on 9 April, the panel of nine expert judges shortlisted nine organisations from across Africa – including Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Seychelles. The finalists are:

The supporters of the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards are:

  • WESGRO @Wesgro – Headline sponsor
  • Bulk SMS @BulkSMS – Category sponsor: Best for Global Goals Reporting
  • Cape Whale Coast @Cape_WhaleCoast  – Function sponsor
  • Singer Group – Accommodation sponsor
  • MLT Corp @MLTcarhiretour – Car hire sponsor
  • Responsible Traveller @RespTraveller – Category sponsor: Best for Marine Habitat and Species Conservation

The judging draws on the expertise of carefully chosen professionals from throughout the tourism industry in Africa. The hard-working judges were:

  • Prof. Harold Goodwin: Emeritus Professor Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Founder of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism
  • Darryl Erasmus: Chief Quality Assurance Officer, South African Tourism
  • Dr Alison Kock: Marine Biologist, SANParks
  • Thembi Kunene-Msimang: CEO – Acting and Executive of Marketing and Communications, RETOSA
  • Chardonnay Marchesi: Portfolio Director of the Travel, Tourism and Sports Portfolio: Reed Exhibitions
  • Greg McManus: Heritage Environmental Management Company and Event Greening Forum
  • Sadia Nanabhay:  Operations Manager, African Responsible Tourism Awards
  • Dawn Robertson: CEO, The Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct
  • Heidi van der Watt: Managing Director, Better Tourism Africa and Institute of Development Studies, Massey University

The 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winners will be announced during WTM Africa at an awards ceremony to be held on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 16.45 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa. A celebratory function, sponsored by the Cape Whale Coast, will follow the ceremony.

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

This year’s finalists are worthy examples of changemakers who bravely use tourism to create positive change for Africa’s people and environments. From a safari camp group showing strong leadership in saying no to bottled water to a wine farm with forward-thinking work conditions – the shortlist has a lot to say about where responsible tourism on the continent is, and where it is going next.”

Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel and WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor, reflected on the decisions made on the Judging Day:

There are many excellent organisations on the shortlist for the Awards and there was much debate among the judges about each of the categories. It is an achievement to be on the shortlist and to be a finalist for the African awards as they are part of the prestigious and competitive World Responsible Tourism Awards run by World Travel Market.

The judges had in mind global standards in responsible tourism when making their decisions. Our ambition is for the Awards to challenge, inspire and educate others in the industry to take responsibility for achieving sustainability. We have inspiring Gold and Silver winners but there were some surprisingly weak categories. The judges can only award from among those who are nominated and complete the entry process. The categories for ARTA19 will be announced at the end of the Awards ceremony.”

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

The African Responsible Tourism Awards is a source of pride to us, and Africa as a whole. We applaud the forward-thinking and innovative organisations that make it to the last round. They are true examples of how the tourism industry can reach new heights – in a sustainable way. We congratulate the finalists for this year’s awards and look forward to celebrating with the winners at the awards ceremony on 18 April at WTM Africa.”

The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa. The responsible tourism programme includes panel discussions on new business models in sustainable tourism, issues around wildlife and tourism and a panel on carbon, water and certification.


Official hashtag: #ARTA18
Official twitter handle: @RTAwardsAfrica

For more information, high res logos or interviews contact:

Better Tourism Africa
Sadia Nanabhay
Tel: +27 72 662 5410

Inge Dykman
Tel: + 27 21 487 4800

Travel blogger Meruschka Govender to host #ARTA18

African travel activist, experience seeker and tourism thinker, Meruschka Govender, popularly known as MzansiGirl, will host the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony on 18 April, as part of WTM Africa 2018.

Bit by the travel bug as a kid, Merushcka @MzansiGirl discovered South Africa through countless road trips with her family.  As a grown-up, her love of travel drove her out of a career in banking into the tourism sector, where she worked as a project manager for Fair Trade Tourism before taking on the role of Deputy Director: Tourism at the dti and subsequently Director in the International Relations Branch in the Department of Tourism.

Shaping national policy was interesting and took her to other countries, but she wasn’t exploring as much as she wanted to, and certainly not the things she felt needed to be experiences. So armed with a Twitter handle. Meruschka entered the world of micro-blogging, which has since become blogging, freelance writing and social media consulting.

She’s passionate about telling the good stories about South Africa and the rest of Africa on her blog, and is one of SA’s foremost travel influencers. Meruschka has been featured in various print and travel websites, and has worked on digital campaigns with various travel and lifestyle brands including South African Tourism, Mauritius Tourism, Kenya Tourism Board and Gauteng Tourism. Meruschka is also a chapter leader at the Johannesburg chapter of Travel Massive.

Follow Meruschka: Website | Twitter | Facebook YouTube Instagram

2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards longlist revealed

The competition for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards has moved into the second round, with over 15 tourism organisations competing for top spots at the awards ceremony at WTM Africa in April.

Sponsored by WESGRO and organised by Better Tourism Africa, the awards recognise African organisations that offer a shining example of how tourism can benefit the local people, the environment,  and destinations. The awards are part of a family of regional Responsible Tourism Awards which culminate each year with World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London.

This year, the longlist names tourism organisations from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Seychelles and Namibia. Longlisted organisations compete in five categories, among them aquatic habitat and species conservation, good working conditions, cultural experiences and a new category in 2018 – reporting on the Global Goals.

The quality of entries which have made it through to the longlist this year confirms the power of responsible tourism as a force for good in Africa. Each one of these organisations is playing an important role in championing responsible tourism. We’ve reviewed the entries and are excited about the possibilities,” says Heidi van der Watt, founder of the African awards and director of Better Tourism Africa.

The longlisted organisations submissions of the longlisted organisations will now be rigorously reviewed by the judging team. Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says:
The field for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA) is again an indication of the strength of responsible tourism in Africa! Entrants have already completed a detailed questionnaire, and now we’ll take up references and make some inquiries. On judging day we’ll identify those that demonstrate the difference that taking responsibility can make, and have the capacity to educate and inspire others to be more responsible.

The general public can also offer support or otherwise for longlisted organisations by emailing Based on all the evidence, the independent judging team, made up of industry experts, will debate the entries and select the shortlist and winners. The shortlist will be announced on 9 April 2017.

The 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony that will be held on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The ceremony is part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa, which takes place from 18 to 20 April 2018.

Chardonnay Marchesi, Portfolio Manager for Reed Exhibitions, organiser of WTM Africa, says:
Now in its fifth year, WTM Africa is firmly established on the African travel and tourism event calendar. Responsible Tourism has been a cornerstone of WTM Africa from the outset. In recent months we’ve seen the tourism sector rallying with inspiring innovation to respond to the drought in the Western Cape. Just further proof that responsible tourism is integral to the success of tourism on the continent. All stakeholders have a duty to ensure education, sustainability, and authenticity when promoting the unique experiences that Africa has to offer. We look forward to an exciting fourth edition of the African Responsible Tourism Awards, here in Cape Town at the CTICC at WTM Africa.”

The 2018 ARTA longlist

Congratulations to all longlisters, and best of luck during the judging round!

Follow #ARTA18 and @RTAwardsAfrica for all you need to know about the awards ceremony and after-party and to discover who goes through to the finals.


For more information, high res logos or interviews contact:

Better Tourism Africa
Sadia Nanabhay
Tel: +27 72 662 5410
Inge Dykman
Tel: + 27 21 487 4800

RETOSA and Better Tourism Africa team up to promote sustainable tourism in SADC

retosaThe Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) has partnered with the African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA) to encourage more entries to the awards from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

RETOSA is the SADC body responsible for the destination marketing of the region, which is made up of 14 amazing countries.  The primary objectives of RETOSA are to facilitate and promote the development of equitable and ethical tourism through sustainable initiatives, effective destination marketing, and improved regional competitiveness.

For the fourth year running, Wesgro, the official tourism, trade & investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, is the headline sponsor. The aim of the awards is to inspire change in the tourism sector by showcasing examples that tourism providers can learn from. This links perfectly with RETOSA’s objective to grow the capacity among tourism providers to deliver tourism in the SADC region that is sustainable.

Thembi Kunene-Msimang, RETOSA’s Chief Executive Officer: Acting and a judge in the 2018 African awards says:

“One of our objectives is to mainstream responsible practices across all RETOSA member states. The African Responsible Tourism Awards not only recognises the efforts of tourism organisations to operate responsibly, it also demonstrates the difference that taking responsibility can make. It can educate and inspire others to be more responsible. Highlighting individual achievements can help SADC achieve theirs.”

Thus far there have been no shortages of responsible tourism award winners from SADC. In the three years that the African Responsible Tourism Awards has been running, a whopping 46 awards have been handed to tourism organisations from SADC countries. Winners have flown flags from Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania.


Tourism organisations from SADC countries have also gone on to shine against stiff competition in the global challenge – the World Responsible Tourism Awards. SADC countries have racked up 11 wins since 2015.

Despite the stellar success of tourism organisations from SADC in the African and world awards, there are still many responsible tourism champions that are yet to step into the spotlight. The partnership between RETOSA and ARTA aims to increase the number of candidates entering the awards from SADC countries. As a representative of 14 Southern African countries, RETOSA is in a good position to publicise the awards and reach new candidates.

Heidi van der Watt, founder of the African awards and director of the organisers, Better Tourism Africa, is also enthusiastic about the partnership:

“Some stories of responsible tourism from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana are very well-known. But there are thousands of tourism organisations in SADC and we are sure that there are other responsible tourism champions among them.  We’re hoping that this partnership will help us find new responsible tourism success stories, particularly from the lesser-represented countries. We look forward to hearing of exemplary workplace practices in Malawi or innovation in energy management in Zimbabwe.”


Entries for the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards have now closed. The submissions will be reviewed by the judging team and the winners will be announced at a ceremony that will be held on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The ceremony is part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa, which takes place from 18 to 20 April 2018.

Note to editors

Official hashtag: #ARTA18
Official twitter handle: @RTAwardsAfrica

For more information, high res logos or interviews contact:

Better Tourism Africa
Sadia Nanabhay
Tel: +27 662 5410

Thembi Kunene-Msimang
Tel: +27 11 315 2420

The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) body responsible for the tourism destination marketing across the Southern African region’s 14 Southern African countries. RETOSA aims to increase and reinforce awareness of SADC as a desirable vibrant tourist destination, with the purpose to increase tourism arrivals, tourism revenue and investments into the region as well as improved regional competitiveness thus promoting socio-economic development.

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 Wesgro
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 World Travel Market Africa
World Travel Market Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. Next event: 18-20 April 2018.

ARTA18 due date extended

Organisations that are interested in entering the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA) but have not yet had a chance to complete their application now have an additional week.

We will soon announce an exciting partnership that will help to extend the  African Responsible Tourism Awards Tourism entry footprint.  To allow the grapevine to do its work, the closing date for applications has been extended to Thursday, 22 February.

Award categories

This year, ARTA aims to celebrate tourism organisations doing good work in five categories:

  • Best for aquatic species and habitat conservation
  • Best for decent work and social inclusion
  • Best for innovation in water management
  • Best responsible business event
  • Best responsible cultural experience

Read more about the award category criteria and download entry forms here. 

The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced at a ceremony on 18 April at the World Travel Market Africa held in Cape Town. Winners of the African awards are automatically entered into the World Responsible Tourism Awards.


La période de dépôt de candidatures pour la 4th édition de Les Prix Africains du tourisme responsable est désormais ouverte. La liste des lauréats sera dévoilée en february 2018, à l’occasion de la ARTA cérémonie de remise des prix qui se tiendra au WTM Africa en Afrique du Sud.

La 4ème édition des Trophées Africains du Tourisme Responsable s’adresse aux entreprises touristiques (tour-opérateurs, agences de voyages, établissements d’hébergement, attraction touristique, guides, ….), associations, ONG et autres acteurs qui utilisent le tourisme pour de bons changements, lié à cinq catégories:

Conservation des espèces aquatiques et des habitats

Cette catégorie vise toute initiative liée au tourisme qui protège les espèces et les habitats marins et d’eau douce, protège la biodiversité et les écosystèmes, atténue ou compense les impacts négatifs sur l’environnement, etc.

Travail décent et inclusion

Cette catégorie est ouverte aux candidats avec des initiatives visant à assurer des conditions de travail décentes pour les employés, une meilleure répartition des avantages du tourisme au niveau local, la promotion de l’équité et la promotion de la cohésion sociale, etc.

Événement d’affaires responsable

Comme son nom l’indique, ce trophée s’adresse à toute organisation organisatrice d’un événement professionnel (salon, conférence, sommet, congrès, etc.), ayant pris en compte le développement durable dans toutes les phases d’organisation de l’événement.

Expérience culturelle responsable

Cette catégorie est destinée aux expériences touristiques qui mettent en valeur et soutiennent les traditions culturelles et les modes de vie, et encouragent une échange respectueuse et significative entre les touristes et les habitants locaux

Novatrices gestion de l’eau dans le tourisme

Cette catégorie relief la responsabilité et l’implication nécessaire du tourisme dans la préservation de l’eau, une ressource vitale dans le monde. Le catégorie cherche des solutions novatrices de la gestion de l’eau dans le tourisme et les mesures engagées par le candidat pour protéger et promouvoir les ressources en eau tout en ayant des retombées positives pour les populations locales des destinations.


Les parties intéressées sont invitées à présenter leur candidature avant le 22 février 2018 à minuit (heure d’Afrique du Sud).

Des informations complémentaires et les dossiers de candidature sont disponibles à ce lien. Soumettez votre entrée aux liens fournis.

Nous recevrons votre entrée avec grand plaisir!


Wesgro-headline-sponsorCalling on tourism businesses in Africa – the search for the bright spots in responsible tourism on the continent is on!  Now its fourth year, the #ARTA18 ceremony will again be hosted as part of WTM Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday, 18 April 2018.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards celebrate the commitment and efforts of individuals, organisations and destinations that use tourism to make Africa better.  The five categories for the 2018 awards are:

  • Best for aquatic species and habitat conservation
  • Best for decent work and social inclusion
  • Best for innovation in water management
  • Best responsible business event
  • Best responsible cultural experience

Read more about the award categories and download entry forms here.

Previous years have uncovered many remarkable tourism businesses and organisations that plough back into their communities, conserve nature and heritage, benefit African destinations and African people.  In the past entries from South Africa have been plentiful. We strongly encourage entries from other parts of Africa.  In 2017, a remarkable five of the twelve Leaders in Responsible Tourism in the global WTM Responsible Tourism Awards were from Africa.

Entries close Thursday, 22 February 2018.  Make sure to submit your entry soon after the festive season rush.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the prestigious World Responsible Tourism Awards, the world’s most respected responsible tourism awards.  The awards are organised by Better Tourism Africa, under licence by World Travel Market.  Wesgro will continue to support the Awards as its headline sponsor, as it has since the Award’s inception in 2015.

Should you be interested in sponsoring a category or require further information, please e-mail awards@africanresponsbletourismawardscom.

Follow us on twitter : @RTAwardsAfrica and Facebook : AfricanResponsibleTourismAwards for the latest news.


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A couple of weeks ago, we ran a #87litres twitter competition with our friends at Responsible Cape Town @respCPT and Cape Town Pass @CapeTownPass.  To our delight, there were some pretty cool responses from all over South Africa.  @FTTourism, @DiBrown5 and @CCHotel grabbed the three top spots. Check out their tweets below.

On Wednesday 6th December, our winners and #TravelChatSA founder, Patrycja Oosthuizen, @Travelopulent, will stop in at various places in Cape Town. Their mission is twofold.  Firstly, to show that tourism players have taken many steps to #savewater.  Second, and equally important, to provide tips on travellers can #savelikealocal and use less than #87litres per day.

Why #87litres?

The City of Cape Town has asked residents to use less than #87litres of water per person per day.  With the tourism season upon us, the help of our visitors to save water is critical.  So, we’ll be sharing how visitors may use the handy #87litres water calculator.

Waterwise stops

Here’s where our group of #87litres advocates will be going:

Our winners will be travelling in a vehicle sponsored by @TheGreenCabSA team.

Appropriately, #WaterWiseTourismCT champion, @TheBackPack, is hosting Heidi van der Watt @heidivdwatt of Better Tourism Africa on 5th & 6th December.

We’ll end the day at The BackPack, participating in the Water Wise Summer Holidays #TravelChatSA at 7pm.

Help us spread the #87litres awareness

Here’s three things you can do:

  1. Follow the #87litres and #WaterWiseTourismCT hashtags, like and retweet, especially on Wednesday 6 December.
  2. Share your ideas on how travellers can #savelikealocal
  3. Give a shout-out to #waterwise tourism businesses in South Africa. We know they’re out there!

Together, we can beat day zero! Every drop counts.

Africa shines at the World Responsible Tourism Awards

Africa, and South Africa in particular had a strong showing at yesterday’s World Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony that was held at WTM London. Half of the six awards were scooped up by African organisations, and our congratulations go to:

  • Chobe Game Lodge (Botswana) – Best at Carbon Reduction
  • Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (South Africa) – Best Accommodation
  • Transfrontier Parks Destinations (South Africa) – Best Tour Operator

Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape’s Official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency and previous headline sponsors of the African Responsible Tourism Awards was particularly pleased that two winners – Transfrontier Parks Destinations and Grootbos are from the Western Cape. Marine Dynamics, another Western Cape tourism business, received a Highly Commended in the awards ceremony. Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris said: “We are extremely proud of the performance of these three businesses today. They have represented the Cape and South Africa well, and demonstrated the enormous value of building and nurturing sustainable tourism in our country.

“Tourism remains an important economic contributor to both our provincial and national economy, boosting economic growth and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. We encourage other companies to be motivated by these excellent results, and continue to work hard in building a sustainable tourism economy.”

Enter our #87litres in the day of a tourist competition and win a fun-filled day visiting Cape Town attractions using the Cape Town Pass.

Entering the competition is easy

Tweet an example of how a tourism business in South Africa is saving water or encouraging water saving. Use the hashtag #87litres to make sure we see your entry.

There are three Cape Town Passes to be won. The pass is a two-day pass that includes entrance to many of Cape Town’s premier attractions. The first of the two days will be organised by us, and we’ll shuttle the winners to attractions of our choosing (don’t worry, they’ll be great). On the second day, winners are free to use the Pass anyway they choose, no interference from us.

The competition is open from 00:00 on 2 November 2017 until 23:59 on 7 November 2017 (SA time)

Rules, terms & conditions

  • The competition is organised by Better Tourism Africa and Responsible Tourism Cape Town
  • The competition is open to everyone, with the exception of staff from the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Pass and attractions included on the Cape Town Pass.
  • To enter you must be at least 18 years old and have a Twitter account.
  • A person can enter as many times as they like, but will need to submit a different answer each time.
  • Winners will be the people that posted the highest scoring Tweets with the #87litres hashtag. Tweets will be scored by the total number of Retweets and Likes it receives.
  • Three separate prizes will be awarded. A person can only win one prize, even if they have several Tweets in the top three.
  • The prize will include a three-day Cape Town Pass with entrance to included attractions preloaded. The first day of the Pass will be a group activity day organised by the competition organisers in which all winners follow an itinerary of activities. Winners will need to meet at a designated starting point in or close the Cape Town city centre, and transport during the day will be included in the prize.
  • The Cape Town Pass will be valid for three consecutive days starting from 2 December 2017, and the day joint activity day will be on 2 December 2017.
  • Transport to Cape Town and the designated starting point is not included in the prize.
  • Winners will be notified via Twitter during the week of 13 November 2017.
  • The prize is not transferrable, or transferrable to cash.
  • If the winner is not able to take up the prize, the prize will be awarded to the person that tweeted the next highest scoring tweet.

cape town pass, sponsor, african responsible tourism awards   Responsible Tourism Cape Town  

Entering the 2017 World Responsible Tourism Awards

To celebrate 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the organisers of the WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards are taking a detour from the usual format of the awards and focusing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) instead.

All five categories in the 2017 awards are linked to the SDGs. Another change is what categories organisations can enter in. The first four categories are open only to those who have won gold or silver in the last three years in the global, African, Indian or Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The fifth category is for organisations new to the awards.

This year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards are looking for examples of good practice where tourism organisations and destinations leverage tourism to make better places for people to live in, and then transparently report on the impacts of their responsible tourism efforts.

The judges are looking for tourism organisations that can demonstrate their positive sustainable development impact. They recognise that smaller companies will have smaller impacts, but feel strongly that smaller businesses and organisations are no less worthy of an award and should not be deterred from applying. Instead the awards are looking to recognise effective approaches to reporting impact and communicating it to consumers, local people and governments.

Awards categories

The 2017 Awards categories are:

SDG8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Categories that focus on responsible employment have always been strongly contested in both the African and the World Responsible Tourism Awards. Contenders for this category include:

Stellenbosch wine estate, Spier, were gold winners in 2016 in the Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment category. The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff. The gold went to Spier for the transparent reporting and the breadth of their approach to improving the employment conditions of their staff ranging from addressing the issue of safety on public transport to their provision of Individual Learning Spend budgets to support the development of skills and knowledge, for personal development and innovation for the employee and their family for example by using it to pay school fees.

sdg12SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, tourism that creates jobs, promotes local culture and products.

When the African Responsible Tourism Awards ran the Best for Resource Efficiency category in 2015, they were overwhelmed by the quality and variety in entries. Contenders for this category include:

Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana walked off with the prize. Given that the lodge is over 40 years old, to refurbish an old structure the size of this lodge, making it more eco-friendly is a mammoth and on-going task. The lodge has a long term approach to energy efficiency with the ultimate aim of reducing dependency on the grid. The most noticeable innovation is the use of All Electric Game Drive Vehicles and Electric game viewing boats. The lodge was also a silver winner in the 2016 awards in the category for Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment – strengthening their application in the SDG12 category.

sdg14SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development through the sustainable management of tourism on and in the oceans.

Contenders for this category include:

Nkwichi Lodge in Mozambique won the Best for Beach Tourism category in 2016. They were commended for helping to bring the world’s most biodiverse freshwater lake and a 120 000 ha of lakeshore and escarpment under formal protection – in partnership with 16 villages.

Chumbe Island Coral Park in Tanzania was highly commended for water conservation in the World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2013 and they won the marine environment category in 2004. In 2015, they won the African Responsible Tourism Award in the ategory for Best for Beach Tourism. The judges wanted to recognise them for their careful review of progress and the development of the new Management Plan 2006-2016.

sdgRemaining SDGs: Businesses and tourism organisations that can demonstrate their contribution to one of the other 14 SDGs

There are several other SDGs that past winners can demonstrate their contribution against. SDG1 states “No poverty”, and given that the poverty reduction category is traditionally the most competitive in the awards, there are several ideal contenders that can enter. Previous winners of this category include Grootbos Lodge and Transfrontier Parks Destinations (2015) and !Xaus Lodge (2016). Coffee Shack Backpackers, winner of the 2017 award for Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion can enter under SDG4: Quality Education, based on their support of education from preshool to college. Past winners of conservation awards like the Kenyan Mara Naboisho and Ol Pejeta conservancies (2016) are good candidates for SDG15: Life on land.

Newcomers: Businesses and tourism organisations which can demonstrate a contribution to one of the SDGs but which have not won Responsible Tourism Awards in the last three years.

Entering the World Responsible Tourism Awards

Before you tackle the application, you need to select the best category for your organisation to enter and to do this you need to have a good understanding of the SDGs. Follow the links above to find out more about what the SDGs cover, especially since several they have multiple targets.

Unlike previous years, there is only one stage in this year’s awards. To apply, you will have to complete the application form and submit it together with supporting documents to Applications close on 31 August 2017.

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