At the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017 during WTM Africa , Blood Lions and Coffee Shack  took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of African finalists.

Speaking to a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, MEC’s, and government officials on the day, founder of the awards and managing director of Better Tourism Africa Heidi van der Watt, pinpointed what makes the winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa.

African Responsi

“Our winners have a vision that extends beyond the commercial, linking business success with the wellbeing of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism in Africa.”

African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017

The 2017 winners 

  • Best for Engaging People & Culture supported by Transfrontier Parks Destinations, the Gold went to Ilha Blue Island Safaris in recognition of the deep and diverse experiences they offer on the African World Heritage Ilha de Moçambique. The judges particularly valued the diverse local voices presented by Ilha Blue as an alternative to the colonial narrative, the presentation of local indigenous knowledge, with local guides presenting their perspectives and stories creating entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion supported by Better Tourism Africa, the winner was Coffee Shack Backpackers, a small establishment with a huge heart and a considerable impact on the Tshezi community living in this remote corner of the Eastern Cape with projects that range from equipping the Pato Junior School in 2002 to bringing on board Tshezi Community Trust shareholders and the creation of Sustainable Coffee. 
  •  Best for Habitat & Species Conservation supported by Cape Nature, the Gold went to All Out Africa in Swaziland for their involvement to the community over the last 12 years. All Out Africa has enabled 500 international volunteers to contribute meaningfully to conservation through data collection and supported and trained over 100 local students in field-based conservation and ecological research, supported the education of 15 local students at MSc level and more than 1000 undergraduate students from both local and international universities.
  • In the important Best Partnership for Poverty Reduction category supported by Africa Ignite the Gold Winner was Isibindi African Lodges. With partnerships that extend to rental of community-owned land and tourism lodges, employment of local people, support of micro producers, training, internship and income creation for hundreds of people in the deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Supported by BulkSMS, the Best Responsible Event Gold went to MTN Bushfire, a three-day festival held annually in the scenic Malkerns Valleys of Swaziland, that attracts 25,000 participants from across the globe and has grown over the last 10 years to gain international recognition, create substantial employment and spark the #BringYourFire action call.
  • The Best Responsible Tourism Campaign supported by Cape Town Pass went to Blood Lions. From its launch in 2015 there was a clear focus ‘to stop lions being bred for the bullet’ with a powerful documentary film at the heart of a campaign which used social and traditional media to engage the industry with a simple and compelling message: ‘Think before you visit, cuddle, walk, volunteer’.
  •  In the Best Tour Operator for Impact in Urban Areas category supported by Marine Dynamics, Uthando won gold with their community farms and recipe books, educare centres, music and dance academies, domestic animal care, a book that tell the stories of elders, arts and crafts hubs and much more.

The Honourable Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde, member of Parliament James Vos, Professor Harold Goodwin, of the World Responsible Tourism Awards and Chair of the Judging Panel were among those in attendance.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017 were sponsored by the Wesgro with CEO Tim Harris paid tribute to this year’s inspirational winners and ‘reinforced their commitment to responsible tourism development both in the province and on the African continent.’

Better Tourism Africa believes that tourism should be harnessed to create better places for people to live and to visit, the African Responsible Tourism Awards has again brought to light those already doing just that.

Find more at the #ARTA17 hashtag and to read the winner’s full stories, learn who got silver winner and watch the Overall Winner’s videos, go to

Pics by African Responsible Tourism Awards

Thanks to Dawn Jorgensen our local #AfriExpert for this post.

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