Blood Lions and Coffee Shack Backpackers Scoop Top Awards at ARTA 2017

Overall Award Winners with Award Ceremony Dignitaries (WTMA)

South Africa - Blood Lions and Coffee Shack Backpackers took the coveted African Responsible Tourism Awards Overall Winner award, beating a host of other finalists from across Africa. The two responsible tourism leading lights received the award in a special ceremony conducted during the World Travel Market Africa 2017 in Cape Town.

The awards organised by Responsible Tourism Africa normally award overall winner to a single finalist. But this year there were joint overall winners: Blood Lions and Coffee Shack Backpackers, both from South Africa.

The ambition of the awards is to educate, inspire and challenge. The Blood Lions campaign demonstrates how awareness raising and engagement can achieve change, successfully engaging the industry through its “Born To Live Wild” campaign. Coffee Shack Backpackers demonstrates the major positive impact which a small business in a remote rural area can have.

Speaking before a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, mec’s, and government officials, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes 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 wellbeing 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,” Heidi van der Watt said.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards also boast eight other categories that were won by various organisations.

Chair of the judging panel, Harold Goodwin gave remarks on the awards and the emphasis of sustainable development goals in the responsible tourism space.

“All of those long listed should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved.  As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards the judges looked for winners who might educate and inspire others, challenging the industry to achieve more by demonstrating what can be done by businesses and organisations to realise the ambition of Responsible Tourism. That ambition is simply put:  to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. This also benefits the industry: great places to live are great places to visit,” Harold said.

He also added that: “In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development the industry needs to recognise that we need to be a lot more transparent about credibly reporting the positive impacts that businesses in the tourism sector have on peoples’ livelihoods and well-being – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards will be announced next month – in this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development there is a particular emphasis on the SDGs.”

Speaking on behalf of the awards sponsors, Wesgro, Tim Harris who is Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro said, “As the proud headline sponsor of the inaugural African Responsible Tourism Awards, Wesgro is delighted to pay tribute to this year’s inspirational winners. As the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we continue to show our commitment to responsible tourism development both in our province and on the African continent.

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.  Today, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.”