The winners of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2022 have officially been announced at Africa Travel Week (ATW), with TUI Care Foundation, Wild Horizons and Green Safaris taking home gold.

WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2022
pic credit – Orange Orbit

The live ceremony, held on the Global Stage at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Monday, 11 April, commenced in front of a live audience of global industry professionals and local media.

“It was a great pleasure to honour those responsible-tourism rock stars who lead by example, and champion meaningful causes within our industry,” says Martin Hiller, Content + Creative Director: Travel, Tourism & Creative Industries at RX Exhibitions.

“We also want to extend a massive thank you to all of our sponsors, and applicants who continue to shine a spotlight on Africa as a continent that truly cares for its people, places and the wellbeing of our planet.”

Following an intense judging session, the panel, including Harold Goodwin, WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, shortlisted seven organisations from across Africa as gold winners for this year’s awards. Official winners and runners-up per category of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards are as follows:

  • Decarbonising Travel & Tourism: Climate change will have profound consequences for businesses in the travel and tourism sector, and people and wildlife in originating markets and destinations. It is important to find ways to reduce the amount of carbon emissions that travellers and holidaymakers cause.

Gold: Green Safaris – Green Safaris operates properties in Zambia and Malawi using tourism to contribute to conservation, community development and the promotion of engaged tourism. Their lodges are built with earthbags − which reduce cement use by 95% − as well as local materials to minimise embedded carbon footprint. Most are fully solar-powered and the earthbag construction helps better regulate the interior temperature naturally. They also use solar-charged game-drive e-vehicles, e-boats and e-mountain bikes, and have introduced smart stoves to reduce charcoal-burning in neighbouring communities.

Silver: Grootbos and V&A Waterfront

  • Destinations Building Back Better Post-Covid – At the awards last year we saw several destinations that were beginning to rethink the tourist volumes and market segments they will attract post-Covid, and some who were considering demarketing.

Gold: TUI Care Foundation – The TUI Care Foundation connects holidaymakers to good causes; they foster education and the wellbeing of children and youth, the protection of nature and the environment, and the positive impacts of tourism on people and places in destinations worldwide.

Silver: Sustainable Island Mauritius
One to Watch: Rwanda Development Board
and Ultimate Safaris

  • Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic – Many businesses and organisations in the travel and tourism sector have worked hard to sustain their employees and the communities in which they operate during Covid-19. This award recognises and draws attention to those who have successfully helped others − employees and neighbours alike − to weather the storm.

Gold: Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project – The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project is a programme of the Kilimanjaro Responsible Trekking Organization, a porter welfare initiative aiming to improve their working conditions. When Covid arrived they used a phone tree method to provide Covid safety information to 7,000 mountain crew and asked them to share the information with families, friends and neighbours.

Silver: We are Victoria Falls

  • Reducing Plastic Waste in the Environment – The pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of single-use plastic, adding to the global plastic waste crisis. The industry needs to do more to reduce single-use plastics, take responsibility and work with local communities and their governments on waterways to capture waste plastic with nets and floating barriers and upcycle it for cobbles, furniture and crafts.

Gold: Asilia – Asilia were early partners of Zanrec in introducing sustainable waste management and played a part in encouraging 100 other hotels and guesthouses on the east coast of Zanzibar to partner with them and recycle their waste responsibly. In 2020 at Sayari, in the Serengeti, they launched a solar-powered micro-brewery using reverse-osmosis purified water from a borehole on site. They no longer purchase plastic and glass bottles or cans for the camp and save carbon emissions by not having to transport drinks to the lodge.

Silver: Lemala Camps and Lodges

  • Increasing Diversity in Tourism – Diversity is a broad term: “Identities include, but are not limited to, ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, immigration status, intellectual differences, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.” For the travel industry, it is about who they employ at various levels, who they market to, the way they present the destinations they sell, the range of experiences they promote and the stories they tell.

Gold: BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central – In 2007, BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central appointed previously disadvantaged staff members to their board of directors and then created a staff share trust in which they allocated 51% of the shares in the business to the staff. The initiative is self-funded from the hotel’s profits. The establishment is also involved with the Towers of Hope, an NGO located across the street from the hotel which works to improve the lives of marginalised citizens in inner-city Bloemfontein. The judges wanted to recognise this unusual example of an initiative designed to empower previously disadvantaged members of their community.

Silver: Lemala Camps and Lodges

  • Growing the Local Economic Benefit – By adapting the way they do business, accommodation providers and tour operators can create additional market opportunities for local communities in their supply chains and create opportunities to sell goods and services directly to tourists.

Gold: Wild Horizons – Wild Horizon’s Pay It Forward Initiative enables guests to enrich their journey while making a positive impact. From a list of registered charitable organisations, guests select a cause they would like to support. The guests connect with local people, discover less-visited parts of town and immerse themselves in a different style of grocery shopping before delivering their purchases to their chosen charity.

Silver: andBeyond

  • Virtual Volunteering – The judges were struck by two innovations included by businesses entering the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards this year − innovations generated in response to the pandemic which are likely to become a permanent part of the travel and tourism sector. There have been many efforts to create virtual travel experiences, whether on the internet or through the use of virtual reality.

Gold: people and places – People and places creates individually-designed placements which match volunteer skills to local needs in 10 countries worldwide including Eswatini, The Gambia, South Africa, Madagascar and Morocco.

Silver:  TUI Care Foundation

Gold winners in each category will go on to compete in the Global Awards taking place at WTM London from 7-9 November this year. Last year, the V&A Waterfront scooped the Global Award in London.

“The V&A Waterfront was selected for the global award for their work with local communities during Covid. We’ve got fantastic applicants this year for the Responsible Tourism Awards in Africa,” says Harold Goodwin, WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor.

This year also saw two judges’ awards, which are only awarded when two independent panels select the same winners in any chosen category. In the history of the Responsible Tourism Awards, there have only ever been five judges’ awards. The deserving winners were Grootbos and Transfontier Parks Destinations.