We are incredibly proud of our AAVEA supporters Two Oceans Aquarium and Table Mountain Cableway who won the Best Responsible Attractions and Best for Resource Management awards respectively, at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2019, held at WTM Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday 10 April 2019.

Our AAVEA supporters Two Oceans Aquarium and Table Mountain Cableway with their fellow 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards winners and judges. Image credit: ARTA

Our supporters were named winners at the awards ceremony sponsored by Wesgro.

Says Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel:

“As the African Responsible Tourism Awards concludes its 5th year, we are pleased that it has grown in stature year-on-year. The judges are now calibrating the Gold and Silver awards against the WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards’ benchmarks.

The World Awards have been running since 2004, and the WTM World Awards family now has regional awards in Africa, India and Latin America. The African Responsible Tourism Awards recognises leaders in responsible tourism in the most culturally diverse continent and in the city where in 2002 responsible tourism was defined in the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations.

There are excellent examples of responsible tourism in Africa. Those recognised here are the judge’s choice for this year. Remember that we can only select from among those that apply. When next year’s WTM Africa Awards are announced below – think about who should apply and encourage them to do so.”

Speaking before an audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and 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 an ethos that extend beyond the commercial – linking thriving business with the wellbeing of local people and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate bottom lines that balance people, planet and profit, and won’t undermine sustainability in the pursuit of superior product quality. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They provide hope and inspiration for the future of tourism in Africa.”

For the fifth year running the Awards were sponsored by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade & investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape. Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, was on hand to congratulate the winners. He reflected on the winners:

“Wesgro is pleased at this year’s inspirational winners. They deserve to be recognised for providing leadership and effectively contributing to growing tourism sustainably. Today, we celebrate their commitment and their achievements.”

At their respective announcments. Two Oceans Aquarium and Table Mountain Cableway were commended for:

Best Responsible Attraction

It is rare to find an aquarium that exhibits ONLY species from its own geography and not rely on exotics to attract visitors.  The Two Oceans Aquarium showcases the diversity of the oceans off southern Africa and raises awareness of threats to ocean life and responsible use of marine resources. Plastic in the ocean and sustainable seafood are key topics. Conservation and sustainability-oriented messaging is included in exhibit signage, daily talks, media platforms, and speaker evenings.

As could be expected, the conservation and research of marine and coastal species is a major focus.  A sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme, seal monitoring and disentanglement project in the Waterfront, and support for SANCCOB and Shark Spotters though donations of a portion of visitor fees, are but some of the related programmes.

An environmental management system directs the operation of the attraction that draws 500 000 visitors per year. Performance against targets for water and energy consumption, waste production and carbon emissions are monitored and documented in annual sustainability reports.  Performance is independently audited annually.

Educational programmes about marine life, coastal habitats and sustainable living are not limited to the Aquarium building – three outreach programmes reach more than 35,000 children, mainly from disadvantaged areas, per year.  Various environmental campaigns and activations and campaigns increase conservation awareness amongst the general public. These include beach clean-ups, Rethink the Bag and Home to Ocean campaign and participation in Plastic Free July.

Gold: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (South Africa)

Given its location in Table Mountain National Park and the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site, responsibly managing water and waste associated with more than 1 million visitors per year in a sensitive biosphere is a top priority for Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC).  The business already had a multifaceted suite of measures to reduce waste and manage water consumption in place to support a silver win for Resource Management in the 2015 African Responsible Tourism Awards.  These included low-flush toilets, compostable catering supplies that reduce both waste to landfill and water use, beverage dispensers instead of glass bottles or tins, recycling information and guidance for visitors, and responsible management of hazardous waste.

Additional measures since 2015 range from an organic waste management system to waterless urinals and the introduction of hand-sanitiser as taps were closed off.  Transporting all potable water and food products to the top of the mountain, and solid waste and waste water down by means of the cable car, is worthy of recognition.  Reductions in per capita consumption of water or volumes of waste generated are typically most marked soon after the introduction of management measures.  Given that most of the water and waste management innovations were introduced before 2015, the judges did not expect to see drastic reductions in per capita figures in recent years.  However, maintaining reduced per person water consumption and waste levels over a five-year period is remarkable.   The judges were convinced that enough supplementary work has been done and performance maintained since 2015 to warrant another win.

Congratulations to all of the winners. You can read all about them at www.africanresponsibletourismawards.com