A 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:

  • Best for Beach Tourism – sponsored by Bulk SMS
  • Best Contribution to Cultural Heritage Conservation – supported by Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme
  • Best Accommodation for responsible employment – supported by Thebe Reed Exhibitions
  • Best for Poverty Reduction – supported by EDGE Tourism Solutions
  • Best Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign – sponsored by Verde Hotels
  • Best for Wildlife Conservation – supported by African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary
  • Best for Public Sector Policy/Support – sponsored by the Singer Group
  • Best Operator for people with disabilities – supported by Warriors on Wheels Foundation
  • People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism – supported by Ticket2Utopia

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 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.”