South Africa’s Gansbaai lands gold tourism award


20 April 2015

Gansbaai is the overall winner in the African Responsible Tourism Awards, beating 21 other finalists from around the continent in taking gold.

The community of tourism businesses in the small Western Cape town work together to make better places to live in and great places to visit. The awards were handed out on 16 April during the World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town. They were sponsored by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

“It is exciting to bring the World Responsible Tourism Awards to Cape Town and Africa,” said Harold Goodwin, the chair of the judging panel. “There are many world-class winners being announced today. Since 2004, African businesses from 14 countries have won awards, 20% of the awards winners have been from Africa.”

More than 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials attended the event. Heidi van der Watt, the managing director of Better Tourism Africa, pinpointed what made the award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa.

“Our winners have a vision that extends beyond the commercial – linking business success with the well-being of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate balance sheets alongside beliefs, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism in Africa,” she said.

Tim Harris, the chief executive of Wesgro, handed out the awards. “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 manner,” he said.

Overall winner: Gansbaai

“This is a remarkable group of tourism businesses many of which have won Responsible Tourism Awards individually, including Grootbos for its conservation of the fynbos and its poverty reduction impact, and Marine Dynamics for conservation and local economic development,” said the judges.

“The judges want to recognise them for the overall award for the way in which they have worked together to create a destination with outstanding product and memorable experiences, and have brought local economic development and communal facilities to the local community. “They have demonstrated what tourism can do to make better places to live in and great places to visit.”

Other winners

  • Best for Beach Tourism: gold winner – Chumbe Island Coral Park in Zanzibar for its careful review of progress to 2006 and the development of the new management plan 2006-2016, which the judges saw as an example of good practice and one which others should emulate;
  • Silver winner – Nuarro Lodge in Mozambique;
  • Best Blog for Responsible Tourism: gold winner -The Good Holiday, which “inspires travellers to journey to African places with a unique cultural heritage, places that inspire people to consider a life seeking simple pleasures that tread lightly on the earth”;
  • Silver winner – My Slow Journey;
  • Best Destination for Responsible Tourism: gold winner – Gansbaai;
  • Silver winners – Bigodo Wetlands Sanctuary in Uganda, and Cape Town;
  • Best for engaging people and cultures: gold winner – Coffeebeans Routes in Cape Town, for creating travel experiences around urban stories and employing tourism as a tool to unlock economic potential and address societal inequalities through exploring cultural diversity and legacy;
  • Silver winners – !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre on the Western Cape West Coast, Nkwichi Lodge in Malawi, and TFPD Foundation for the work done at Baleni Camp in Limpopo, South Africa;
  • Best for Poverty Reduction: joint gold winner – Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in partnership with the Grootbos Foundation in Western Cape, and Transfrontier Parks Destinations in South Africa and Mozambique;
  • Silver winner – Stormsriver Adventures in Eastern Cape, South Africa;
  • Best for Resource Management: gold winner – Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana for its eco-friendly refurbishment and long-term approach to energy efficiency;
  • Silver winners – Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia, Sandele Eco-Retreat and Learning Centre in Gambia, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company in Cape Town, and Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town;
  • Best for Wildlife Conservation: gold winner – Marine Dynamics, South Africa, for its “very high quality shark cage diving experiences” that operate to the highest conservation standards;
  • Silver winner – andBeyond’s Rhinos Without Borders, which has its headquarters in Johannesburg and offices across Africa and the world, and Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse in Riebeek Valley in Western Cape.

Speaking about the joint gold winners for poverty reduction – Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and Transfrontier Parks Destinations – the judges said: “Here we have two winners working at different scales – each in their own way using tourism as a vehicle for poverty reduction.

“Grootbos is no stranger to winning Responsible Tourism Awards. What stands out is the long history of interventions that amplify each other. The programmes of the Grootbos Foundation focus on improved livelihoods through self-reliance, development of viable enterprise development, gender balance and empowerment of women. Impacts are well quantified and information about projects easily accessible to the willing reader.

“The scale and ambition of the Transfrontier Parks Destination’s work is truly remarkable. To actively seek out failing tourism businesses in areas of very high unemployment is very admirable but to them turn them round into viable businesses again employing many locals on a living wage giving them long-term stability and income displays true leadership.”

Source: World Travel Market Africa