Finalists for the 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards announced


A sports event attracting 20 000 participants, an operator specializing in treks up Kilimanjaro and a safari beach lodge are only some of the inspirational organisations selected as finalists for the 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards (sponsored by Wesgro and organised by Better Tourism Africa).

With the quality of entries high and competition tough, who will take the top spots in each category? And who will scoop the win as the much-coveted ‘Overall Winner’.

The panel of expert judges had their task cut out for them. The Judging Day was held in Johannesburg on 29 March, and after vigorous debate, 15 organisations were shortlisted. The finalists are: 

The 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards winners will be announced during WTM Africa at a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, 10 April 2019 at 16.45 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa. A celebratory function, sponsored by Cape Whale Coast, to toast the winners will be held immediately after the ceremony.

San experience at !Khwattu is one of the finalists for the 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards

Namibian judge Sisco Auala said the following of the judging process:

“Judges were supplied with clear criteria to guide the selection of winners. We were given plenty of opportunities to freely debate, exchange views and clarify our diverse perspectives in a rigorous manner before we reached consensus”.

Commenting on the finalists, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa, said:

From an aquarium actively campaigning against single use plastics to an immersive cultural experience near a famous battlefield, this year’s finalists are worthy examples of change makers who bravely use tourism to create positive change for Africa’s people and environments. We have inspiring Gold and Silver winners, but some categories are surprisingly weak. We know that there are many more worthy contenders on the continent. The judges can only award from among those who are nominated and complete the entry process. The categories for next year will be announced at the end of the Awards ceremony.” 

Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel and WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor, reflected on the decisions made on the Judging Day:

“With a high calibre panel of judges, there is always much passionate discussion and argument about the category and overall winners in the Responsible Tourism Awards family of awards. Chairing the judges is a privilege, the more so when there are lively debates as there were again this year in the 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards. The worthy winners, Gold and Silver, are demonstrating their responsibility and we are pleased to recognise them, and we have identified a number of ones to watch – there are some great new responsible businesses emerging.” 

The awards would not be able to shine a light on the best of the best in responsible tourism in Africa without the support of its sponsors and partners, several of whom have demonstrated their commitment to responsible tourism by sponsoring the awards several years in a row. This year’s supporters are:

Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, is following the outcome of the awards closely: “We’re going through a phase in which tried and tested tourism business models are being challenged. This year’s African Responsible Tourism Awards finalists entries reflect this landscape and shine a light on innovative strategies for tourism. We are thrilled with the list of finalists. Each one sets a precedent for excellent work in their category and represents the exciting, diverse range of best practice in the African tourism industry.”

The judging drew on the expertise of carefully chosen professionals from throughout the tourism industry in Africa:

The African Responsible Tourism Awards is part of the responsible tourism programme at WTM Africa. The responsible tourism programme includes panel discussions on how the tourism industry can reduce its carbon emissions and promote wildlife conservation as well as a two-day conference in which responsible tourism leaders explore the business case for responsible tourism.

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About Author

Mapaseka Sekgala is a Johannesburg based content creator for Nomad Africa Magazine. Her love for content creation sparked when she realised the beauty of the African continent and the endless places awaiting to be explored across Africa. Mapaseka's passion for African travel and cuisines has generated her interest in writing. She believes there is always an untold story. Mapaseka is an opportunity seeker and makes the best out of it.

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