Cape Town - Conservation has become a prominent and important factor in global tourism, and the move to responsible and sustainable practices is long overdue.
But while legislation and planned shifts are admirable, the move to more sustainable tourism practices globally has been slow. This, mainly because it's difficult to change an already-operational hotel or tourism establishment from the top down.
This is where South Africa and the whole African continent has an ironic advantage on sustainable tourism - tourism growth is behind that of first world countries with leading economies.
In Africa, for example, the hotel industry grew nearly 30% over the past year and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. With the high pressure and great rewards that come with going green, this means that new developments will be able to lay foundations for green hotels from the ground up, instead of having to adopt existing infrastructure to slot in with green practices.
It's a concept that's already gaining international recognition.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town serves as a prime example. This hotel opened in 2013 and was built on green-only principles. Within one year of existence, the hotel was already named a World leading establishment when became the very first hotel in the world to be awarded double platinum for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
But more and more African and South African establishments are being recognised for their sustainable achievement.
So much so that an incredible one-third of tourism organisations - 28 out of 75 - that have been longlisted for the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards can be found on the African continent. Of these, 11 establishments are South African.
The longlist was announced on #AfricaDay2016.
The South African contenders for #WRTA16 are:
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Resort & Wellness Retreat
Dyer Island Cruises
Great Plains Conservation
Grootbos Nature Reserve/Grootbos Foundation
National Department of Tourism, South Africa
Stormsriver Adventures Pty Ltd
Eight of these establishments have already won gold in the Africa leg of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards.
Other African contenders are (in alphabetical order):
All Out Africa – Swaziland
Basecamp Explorer Kenya – Kenya
Edirisa – Uganda
Education For All Morocco – Morocco
Guludo Beach Lodge – Mozambique
Ilha Blue Lda – Mozambique
Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) – Uganda
Mara Naboisho Conservancy – Kenya
Nkwichi Lodge – Mozambique
Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Kenya
Robinson Club – Morocco
Serena Hotels – Kenya
Simien Lodge PLC – Ethiopia
The East African Safari and Touring Company Ltd. – Tanzania
The Haven, Uganda – Uganda
Tongabezi Lodge – Zambia
Wilderness Collection on behalf of Segera – Kenya
The 2016 list of finalists will be released in August, with the winners announced at a special ceremony at WTM London during World Responsible Tourism Day on 8 November 2016. According to Simon Press, for the World Travel Market London, where the 2016 winners will be announced, “The 2016 Longlist is a real indication of the calibre of winners we will have this year."
He says judges will be "looking forward to sharing the stories of some of the most innovative, inspirational and effective responsible tourism initiatives we’ve ever seen”.
Previously, 25 proudly South African contenders were longlisted for the African Responsible Tourism Award. The winners were announced during the Africa Travel Week, from 6 -8 April 2016. Check them out here: Mara Nabiosho crowned African Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 winner
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