South African tourism shone under the global spotlight during the World Responsible Tourism Awards held in London on Wednesday.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town won Gold in the Best City Hotel for Responsible Tourism category, the V&A Waterfront walked away with Gold for Best Destination for Responsible Tourism and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance received Gold for being the Best Global Animal Welfare Initiative. Mdumbi Backpackers was a finalist in the Best for Poverty Reduction category.
Every year there is also a winner of winners – a Gold winner amongst the Gold winners. The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance won this Overall Winner category award
Now in their 11th year, the awards aim to develop quality tourism products that promote cultural integrity and environmental protection.
“These awards are significant for the entire Tourism industry in South Africa. It shows that South Africa is taking its place as a world leader in responsible tourism,” said Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
“Many travellers are now making decisions based on fair trade, community benefits and sustainable development practices. In response to this, more of our destinations are implementing sustainable principles like recycling greywater and reducing energy use. These establishments are an inspiration to others to follow suit.”
The need for tourism businesses to look after the environmental, economic and social elements of their enterprise is a key pillar in the recently revised Tourism Act of 2014.
South Africa has become the second country in the world, after Brazil, to develop National Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism.
“I believe we can do more to educate and activate travel consumers to support responsible tourism. This will accelerate the implementation of responsible tourism principles by destination operators even further,” Hanekom said, adding that they will be looking at ways to incentivise the retrofitting of tourism attractions and accommodation facilities to make them for energy saving, water efficiency and accessibility for travellers with physical limitations.