2020 winners and finalists

Congratulations to last year's award winners, highly commended and finalists who were recognised in 2019.

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Most Compelling Tourism Story

The winner!

Spring Marketing Campaign by Northern Cape Tourism Authority

According to the World Tourism Organization the travel and tourism industry is now one of the largest contributors to the global economy. It is a highly competitive, dynamic industry that is continuously advancing and changing. As a destination marketing organisation, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority (NCTA) has developed structured marketing initiatives and strategies which allowed us to keep abreast of the ever- changing landscape of new travel trends, emerging and changing travel segments, new technology and marketing channels to successfully grew tourism arrivals and spent to the Northern Cape.

CTA’s Spring Marketing Campaign was executed to promote the Northern Cape as a desirable Spring holiday destination to the domestic target segments, promote conversion by encouraging extended stays and increased spent within the province, it further promoted the brand, seasonal events, rural tourism and regional spread.

It further attempted to promote a culture of travel among all within the Northern Cape. The target segments included seasoned travelers, established holiday families, Mzansi families, holiday clubs, solo travelers, single parent families, multi-generational travellers and Bleisure travellers in our source provincial markets.

The Northern Cape Tourism Authority’s marketing efforts focus on growing arrivals and spend within the province for both Domestic and International leisure and business markets. Our further intention is to advance the Northern Cape brand as one of South Africa’s top destinations for authentic exploration and discovery.

Despite limited resources and support from the trade the Northern Cape’s targeted focus and relentless affirmation of its brand positioning, real nature, real culture and real adventure has made immense strides in both the domestic and international markets

The finalists

Cape Town in Modern South Africa by Cape Town Tourism

Instead of using the tried and tested death by PowerPoint, as well as printed material, Cape Town Tourism (CTT) took an approach on par with current global destination marketing trends choosing video format only to develop the authentic and creative narrative of who Cape Town is in modern South Africa.

Together with subtitles and thoughtfully selected audio the output of this effort resulted in the impactful story-driven video which brought the destination to life. CTT used the platform to tell the story of the immense diversity which this destination has to offer, not only in the assorted South African people but also in the experiences, cultures and activities which are available in and around Cape Town.

The intention of the video is to evoke emotion in the viewer through the casting and scene selection. Considering that this is a long-haul destination the video is distinctive in appealing to tourists’ imaginations and curiosity to make the journey. The outcome was a product that shows Cape Town’s adventure offerings within the city beyond the usual obvious sites. It shows a city full of culture and cultural experiences firstly through the melting pot of races, genders, cultures and sexual orientations in the subtle messaging of the creative casting efforts of the video.

Secondly, all portrayed on the backdrop of the diversity of adventure, culinary and cultural experiences. The video evokes pride as a local and entices the international or domestic visitors to want to explore the city.

Cradle of Human Culture by Wesgro

Journey back in time to trace the origins and development of human culture over the past 100 000 years and uncover the mysteries of what it means to be human. From ornately decorated ostrich eggs and seashell beads to carefully crafted bone tools and beautifully executed rock art, you will discover humanity’s earliest use of symbolism, art and technology – and find your own roots in the process.

The story of humans began millions of years ago at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in Gauteng in the north of South Africa, but the narrative continues along the coastlines, including the Western Cape. Here, our earliest ancestors started to harness their spirituality, use fire and tools, and illustrate abstract thought. Here, too, they learnt to adapt their behaviour and diet to their environment.

Three important archaeological sites reveal how our ancestors started to innovate socially, behaviourally and culturally. Follow in their footsteps and discover how we became what we are today. The Cradle of Human Culture encircles a vast area – Diepkloof Rock Shelter on the Cape West Coast; Blombos Cave near Stilbaai; and Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay – your trip to the Cradle of Human Culture does not start or end with these three sites.

Choose a journey and start your road trip. The Cradle of Human Culture in Cape Town and the Western Cape was launched in partnership with Wesgro’s DMO, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Most Compelling Technology and innovation Story

The winner!

Virtual Reality for Tanzania by Views4D

Technology has made it possible for people to explore various countries virtually. People are now able to explore cultural sites, go on game drives and even visit museums all in the comfort of their own homes.

For Annastazia Stansilous Temu, Director of Views4D: “In 2017, I took my children to Tanzania for the first time. While at one of East Africa’s largest cultural and art gallery, one of my children told me that back home in England, fellow classmates don’t believe that African’s are not good artists. I was now on a mission to share this gallery and cultural centre with the world. Virtual reality was the only answer”.

Views4D captured the whole centre and after a week of shooting, the renders were placed on Google. This impromptu initiative lead to the company winning two Matty Awards in 2018 for Best Space of the Year and Best Point of Interest. After the win, a few art schools in the United States contacted Views4D to use the 3D model in their teachings of East African art. It was this validation that turned an idea into another revenue stream for the company.

Views4D uses technology to help people experience destinations which they wouldn't be able to for a variety of reasons. Being a proudly British-Tanzanian company, Views4D has started with Tanzania and has captured various, points of interests, accommodations types and activities in 3D. Experiencing Tanzania is merely a click away.

The finalists

Q2B Booking Gateway by Q2B Solutions

The Q2B story started when a veteran of the South African hospitality industry combined forces with a software engineer to solve the fragmented IT landscape problem in the South African hospitality industry. A hospitality establishment is so much more than just accommodation! In this increasingly competitive industry establishments need to be able to sell a combination of accommodation, activities, events, conferences and other value adding services in an integrated fashion. Sadly, we have found that there was no existing technology platform locally or internationally, where an establishment can market and sell a combination of offerings.

They embarked on a journey to develop a cutting-edge technology solution that will offer establishments the ability to sell and market all their offerings from one platform at very affordable price. Integration between establishments and other platforms was a key part of the vision. Eliminating repetitive laborious tasks through automation, providing guests with interactive online applications and integrated CRM functionality finally also became part of the solution that was developed.

In the past year Q2B has also developed their own local payment gateway, backed by the power of Bidvest Merchant bank. The payment gateway offers the lowest fee available in the market today and is fully integrated to deal with online sales, ad hoc charges, virtual credit cards and payment links on invoices.

From inception in 2016 to today, Q2B Solutions grew from small beginnings to Africa’s most comprehensive venue management system in a short span of time and will continue to grow at a rapid pace, bringing the latest technology innovations to the hospitality industry.

Vista Destination Network by Rainmaker Digital

The 200 000 plus hospitality and tourism business in Africa are overwhelmed by the increasing and ever faster-changing complexity of technology and value chains to deal with. Since they are often no hoteliers, marketers, digital or IT geeks, they can't cope and as a result remain on pen and paper; Excel or Outlook to manage their business.

They have become dependent on a very few either traditional and no longer sustainable (i.e. Thomas Cook Retail-Wholesale-DMC) or market-dominant digital ( think booking.com) value chains and give away 60% to 80% of their profits plus the customer ownership. This is not sustainable. Only 10% of them have a proper digital presence and only 15% of them use technology to manage their business.

As a result, Rainmaker Digital has developed a network that helps to keep more tourism spend in destinations for an economically sustainable tourism development through democratisation of technology.

Travelstart Buses by Travelstart

Road transport plays an important role in the way South Africans travel. At Travelstart, they recognised this and so launched an online bus booking platform in November 2019. The platform, available at bus.travelstart.co.za, helps travellers save time and money by comparing bus tickets from competing companies and serving the cheapest fare for a return or one-way journey within South Africa, or to neighbouring countries. The bus booking platform is perfectly aligned with Travelstart’s mission to make travel simple for everyone by including more South African travel consumers in the digital economy.

Travelstart Buses serves those travellers for whom bus travel represents a more affordable, convenient and familiar way to travel. Bus travel is especially crucial for people looking to travel in large groups (such as families) affordably. For many of these people, bus travel is regarded as a necessity rather than a luxury, especially during holidays as people want to reconnect with their families.

Jerome Touze, Travelstart Media says: “We’re really excited to bring a quality bus booking platform to the market. For 13 years, air travel has been our focus, but bus transport also fits with our mission to make all modes of travel simpler and more accessible for everyone”.

Most Compelling Agency Story

The winner!

CNN International Commercial for Dangote Industries

Dangote Industries is one the most diversified business conglomerates in Africa, with multiple entities impacting the daily lives of most of the continent’s population. The company provides the population with employment opportunities that are also self-sustaining through basic needs, such as food, cement, construction, agriculture, and technology.

Through a branded content production, CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) wanted to showcase Dangote Industries empowering Africans through employment and self-sufficient opportunities. Filmed and produced by CNNIC’s award-winning branded content studio Create, the campaign promotes Nigeria and the wider continent through the stories of real people, and focuses on the connections people have with each other, be it in their work and daily lives.

The character-driven story helps to change perceptions and encourage global audiences to visit Nigeria (and the African continent more generally) so they can experience and understand its culture and hospitality.

It also shows that we should not look at the travel and tourism as a narrow sector, but instead view it as part of a larger socio-economic project. In this way, travel and tourism can empower and improve the lives of people in Africa – and all over the world – a goal Dangote is dedicated to realising.

The finalists

Love Africa Marketing for Blood Lions

Love Africa Marketing is the digital media and strategy agency for a number of travel, tourism and environmental companies and NGO’s in South Africa. Some of these include, Blood Lions, Ocean iMPAct, Afriski Mountain Resort and Semonkong Lodge. In addition, Love Africa worked on two of the most vital conservation and tourism campaigns in Southern Africa, called Blood Lions and OnlyThisMuch/ Ocean iMPAct.

The mission of the Blood Lions digital campaign is to reach as broad an audience as possible in order to build awareness and knowledge around the captive predator breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa, demonstrating that this can never be a sustainable tourism option.

It is also a “call to action” to not only affect behavioural change around how to engage with wildlife ethically, but also to precipitate change in policy through garnering support from the world’s most influential individuals and organizations. With support from the wider conservation community and the global tourism industry, as well as millions of concerned citizens, the Blood Lions Campaign is now owned by everyone who supports our common goal to end the breeding, canned hunting, lion bone trade and the overall commercial exploitation of wild animal species.

HaveYouHeard for Cape Town Tourism

Traditionally tourism destinations are very formal in their approach to their marketing and promotional campaigns with a clear focus on traditional advertising mediums and the promotion of key tourism attractions and the ideal settings that make the area so beautiful.

They focus on the icons, such as Table Mountain, the beaches, such as Camps Bay and Clifton and other areas of interest, such as the winelands. Rarely do they focus on the little hidden gems that make a place special to those who live there or take the risk to use humour or a more informal tone. Also selling summer or the ideal is easy.

Selling winter is a great challenge. In developing the campaign, HaveYouHeard used their in-house research agency to gain an in-depth knowledge of South African consumers and their views of Cape Town over winter and what was stopping them from visiting the region during the winter months.

The findings where simple. As they’d only really experienced or been told about what made Cape Town special there was no reason for them to visit Cape Town. They also had the tongue-in-cheek perception that the only thing colder than Cape Town winters were the Capetonians.

With a leap of faith, the campaign made fun of Cape Town’s cliquey reputation and by doing so it also was able to highlight the little hidden gems that only the locals know about and which makes Cape Town worth visiting in winter - some would say even better than in Summer.

HaveYouHeard took the risk of marking a comedic video filled with some of Cape Town brightest start and influences and sent it out into the digital world to spread its wings. The risk paid off.

Big Ambitions for SATSA

July 2019, following the robbery at Mount Nelson, the murder of a Ukraine hiker and subsequent reports of hijackings and attacks across the country targeting tourists, it became clear that someone had to step into the information gap. At the time, media houses worldwide were running headlines about South Africa as a murder and crime hotspot.

Big Ambitions monitored over 160 articles in the space of 10 days all indicating how South Africa was riddled with crime and how tourists would do well to stay away. The travel and tourism industry was in a panic and something had to be done.

There simply seemed to be no entity that was leaning into the information gap, providing media and the travel industry and their customers with what was happening on the ground, constructive and practical advice and spreading some of the good news, the good stories that we have here.

Natalia Rosa, Director at Big Ambitions says: “With a team of specialist travel and tourism industry journalists and the support of SATSA, Big Ambitions devised a crisis communications strategy and began to roll it out in July 2019. Their expertise lies in communications specific to the travel and tourism industry locally and overseas. Under the auspices of SATSA, Big Ambitions set about tackling a mammoth job to help manage the reputation of South Africa and put in place a crisis communications plan since there seemed to be no movement from government to do so”.

While Big Ambitions partnered with Wesgro to assist in controlling the Western Cape narrative, the strategy extended to all parts of the country, providing immediate communication support whenever a tourist was involved in a crime and creating a crisis communications and reputation management campaign that proactively informs the travel industry both locally and internationally on how to mitigate one’s risk when travelling through South Africa – from tips on how to survive load shedding, to Ebola, to self-drive.

These resources are updated continuously, distributed to the travel industry and their customers and posted on a new website Big Ambitions created – traveltosouthafrica.org.

While Big Ambitions has been driving this campaign for SATSA, the real success is seeing how industry stakeholders are holding the agency’s hand and volunteering to be a part of this initiative which is squarely aimed at controlling what we can control – a narrative about South Africa that is reactionary and often unfair.

Most Compelling Digital Story

The winner!

BLOOD LIONS BY Blood Lions Campaign and Love Africa Marketing

The Blood Lions campaign was launched following the release of the Blood Lions documentary in July 2015. Currently in South Africa alone an estimated 20 000 predators, mostly lions, tigers, caracals and cheetahs, are held in captivity for commercial purposes. Many are used in exploitative tourism activities, such as cub petting, ‘walking with lion’ attractions, as photo props, and in voluntourism. The next stages in the lifecycle of captive big cats is the captive (“canned”) hunting for their trophies and/or the lion bone trade to South East Asia, contributing further to the escalating commoditisation of these wild animals.

Volunteers and tourists play a significant role in the perpetuation of the captive breeding industry, as they (often unknowingly) support predator breeding by among others hand‐rearing cubs and taking part in ‘pay‐to‐play’ activities, thus contributing to a never‐ending cycle of cruelty and abuse.

The mission of the Blood Lions campaign is to reach a broad global audience to increase awareness and knowledge around interactive captivity wildlife attractions and “canned” hunting, demonstrating that these can never be sustainable tourism options.

It is a “call to action” to not only affect behavioural change around how to treat wildlife ethically, but also to precipitate change in policy through garnering support from the world’s most influential individuals and organisations.

The finalists

Back to Africa by Black and Abroad

“Go Back to Africa”, a racist putdown long used against Africans in North America and Europe has been getting a social media makeover. Black & Abroad, an Atlanta‐based lifestyle and travel company targeting black travellers, is reclaiming the derogatory statement with a new tourism campaign encouraging African‐Americans to indeed go back to Africa.

The company partnered with FCB/SIX, a data‐driven creative agency, to create an AI platform which collects real time social media posts of black travellers throughout the continent. As vacationers post photos with the hashtag #gobacktoafrica, the Google vision fuelled system scans faces for people of colour and locations to select posts for the campaign’s website. There, African‐Americans are encouraged to browse through countries and see travellers vacationing across Africa.

Promoting Africa as a desirable destination for black people worldwide is not a new one. The early 20th century saw the rise of the “Back to Africa” movement, a campaign galvanized by the pan‐ African activist Marcus Garvey which sought to transport African‐Americans to Africa in the hopes of acquiring greater social and economic independence. But for Black&Abroad, the social media‐led campaign is an attempt to break an “artificial travel barrier” for African‐Americans regarding African tourism, and in the process support African economies.

Eric Martin, co‐founder of Black & Abroad says: “We hope for this campaign to create a pipeline where black travellers can come to the continent and spend their money. Aside from taking away the power in the ‘offensive‐ness’ of the statement, the campaign has also been an attempt to capture the attention of African tourism boards on the potential of African‐American travel across Africa”.

According to the African Development Bank’s most recent tourism report, the industry accounted for 9.3 million direct African jobs in 2017. The burgeoning industry, led on the continent by countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania has also been a way to diversify each country’s economy. Back to Africa project uses an innovative approach to visual data collection and AI‐driven contextualisation to locate and deploy an alternative narrative.

Jaw Designs for eBucks Travel

Communication of holidays requires a ‘show and tell’ approach for SA audiences. Social media validation defines our chosen itinerary of choice and Instagram is a platform of choice to show our holiday.

eBucks Travel is a rewards programme linked to South Africa’s FNB bank. Customers earn eBucks by simply swiping with their cheque or credit cards, regardless of the purchase. In order to communicate the versatility of rewards and the ease of booking a travel package on the eBucks travel website (using a combination of eBucks and cash), JAW Design partnered with Retroviral to execute an influencer marketing campaign with the most relevant Instagram influencers.

@SouthAfrica, @UncleScrooch and @HlubiMboya1 created bespoke, three‐day itineraries to showcase both the diversity of South Africa as a work, play and explore destination and what can be achieved when using a mix of eBucks and cash. 3.4 million people reached in 72 hours – this is almost 50% of South Africa’s entire Instagram audience and 400 000 views, alone via Instagram Stories – an instant success story.

De Zeven Relaunch by Eco Africa Digital

Eco Africa Digital (EAD) were hired to launch De Zeven Guest Lodge, a new luxury guest lodge in the Cape Winelands located between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, in the digital space and continue to grow their brand online.

Competing in a saturated market for a slice of the tourism pie in the famous Cape Winelands of South Africa, De Zeven brought the challenge: How to set themselves apart online, and how to get more direct bookings, month‐on‐month.

First, EAD spent time with the owners to get an authentic feel for this new lodge in the Cape Winelands. The EAD team then put their heads together and created a digital marketing strategy and 12‐month plan for the launch of De Zeven, which officially took place in December 2018, while the strategy kicked in from January 2019.

The team at EAD says: “We knew we had something special here: a beautiful lodge uniquely positioned in the Banhoek Valley, with jaw‐dropping views and endless opportunities, some of which include a surplus of outdoor activities, neighbouring farms offering wine and food experiences par none, and a locally owned property created with passion and the utmost attention to detail”.

EAD used the marketing funnel approach to build the brand over a period of 3‐6 months with awareness and engagement campaigns, followed by lead generation and conversion campaigns from July 2019 to December 2019.

Most Compelling Luxury Story

The winner!

Table Mountain Ring by Shimansky

On Friday 29 November 2019, The Table Mountain Ring was launched by luxury jewellery design house Shimansky and serves to pay homage to South Africa’s most iconic natural wonder.

The unique Table Mountain Ring collection by Shimansky is a precious metal and diamond creation that harnesses the power and presence of the Cape Town phenomenon that is Table Mountain and transforms it into a wearable piece of art.

The collection enables locals and visitors to take home their treasured memory of South Africa’s much-loved Table Mountain, enshrined in a ring.

The Table Mountain Ring collection is available at all Shimansky stores as well as at the very top of Table Mountain at their Shop at the Top.

Wahida Parker, MD of Table Mountain Cableway says: “At Table Mountain Cableway we believe strongly in the power of teamwork and collaboration, which is why this project with an authentic South African brand like Shimansky makes so much sense to us. Ultimately it will help us share the message of the beauty of Table Mountain with even more people. Just think what a great conversation starter this will make.”

With tourism earmarked as a key economic enabler of the Western Cape, Shimansky continues to play a pivotal role in contributing to Cape Town’s economy and to upholding its commitment to sustainable tourism.

The finalists

Kololo Game Reserve by Kololo Game Reserve

Kololo is the name of a game reserve and lodge in Limpopo, a province in the north-east of South Africa. Kololo offers a range of four-star sleeping accommodations and activities in an amazing natural environment. It features diverse landscapes and an impressively diverse animal life.

Kololo is known for being family friendly, fair trade and safe — because of its specific wildlife, guests can move around independently by foot or bike. At the same time, the so-called Big Five are very nearby through Kololo’s natural connection with the neighbouring Welgevonden Game Reserve.

Creative director and visual designer, Erik Schuur was tasked to help strengthen Kololo’s position in a rapidly changing South-African tourist market by doing a complete overhaul of the brand. Schuur developed a look and feel that is quite basic, clean and contemporary but makes a powerful emotive connection with possible visitors through its use of colour, imagery and graphics.

The new logo combines the brand name with an icon depicting a Klipspringer, the kind of antelope that gave Kololo its name - Kololo is the animal’s name in the local language. The hand drawn icon is set in a modern angular shape which forms the foundation for the further graphic language which is also no-nonsense and modern. This simplicity is balanced by using a colour palette consisting of warm, earthy tones and photography with quite a theatrical feel.

This new visual identity was applied to a broad range of communication tool, ranging from stationery items and a completely new extended website to brochures, collateral and items for a trade fair stand.

Desert Rose by Shimansky

The breathtaking Desert Rose ring, created by CEO and Founder of Shimansky Yair Shimansky, proved to be a showstopper at the prestigious Salon Art + Design Fair in New York in 2019. This innovative, incredibly crafted ring features 798 ethically sourced South African diamonds, totalling 24.13ct, complimented by 42 tsavorite gems weighing 3.11ct, and the centrepiece, a desert rose crystal from Namibia, set in 58.80g 18ct gold.

The design was inspired by, and gets its name from, the Desert Rose crystals which are the central focus enclosed by “petals” of gold and diamond with “stamens” of gold and tsavorite. Desert Rose crystals are found in arid regions across the world including Southern Africa – often in clusters resembling bunches of roses shaped by nature through the action of wind and water. Traditionally they are valued for metaphysical properties and have been popular with shaman throughout history.

In a first for the country, South African jewellery design house Shimansky was selected to join a lineup of international fine jewellery design houses for an exhibition titled The Protagonist - celebrating the best in mindful and sustainable fine jewellery and curated by Vogue Italia for the Salon Art + Design Fair.

Shimansky once again shines the luxury spotlight on South Africa.

Rockwell Showroom by Shimansky

Shimansky is more than a diamond jewellery destination. The well-known jewellery manufacturer opens your eyes to the diamond world, like you’ve never seen it before. They offer visitors an unforgettable experience in the heart of Cape Town. Discover the fascinating world of diamonds and learn more about Shimansky’s signature diamond cuts and diamond jewellery designs. Watch Shimansky master craftsmen transform rough Shimansky diamonds to polished perfection.

The Rockwell showroom also offers a brand-new premium South African wine, gin and whiskey tasting experience. Guests can enjoy Shimansky’s selection of South African wines manufactured across various regions of the Western Cape, whilst those with a taste for gin or whiskey can experience one of South Africa’s premium craft gin and whiskey brands in the new bar lounge.

Visitors to the Shimansky Rockwell Diamond Experience have always been able to get a glimpse of what goes into Shimansky Jewellers’ world-famous creations – but a world-first opportunity now also offers them the chance to step into the actual diamond factory and try their hand at polishing rare and beautiful diamonds under the watchful eye of the company’s talented craftsmen.

The ‘Polish a Diamond’ experience is an exclusive, pre-booked, paid extra, which takes place after the regular, insightful 45-minute diamond tour. Guests are welcomed with a drink and enjoy the popular tour, which takes in the history of diamonds, includes a view of the jewellery factory and a visit inside the mysterious Secret Diamond Chamber. After this the guests are invited into the Shimansky diamond factory, suit up in diamond polishing gear and get closer than ever before to the intimate process of diamond polishing.

Most Compelling Sustainable Tourism Story

The winner!

International Dark Sky Certification Campaign by !Xaus Lodge

The International Dark Sky Certification campaign led and developed by !Xaus Lodge for the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Heritage Park resulted in the Park’s certification as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary – the only one in Africa.

This campaign is about bringing the international focus of astro-tourists, environmentalists and adventure travellers to the Kalahari’s !Ae !Hai Heritage Park, and !Xaus Lodge. It is a story of seeing beyond the norm, understanding management of artificial light in a sustainable manner and integrating best practices into sustainable environmental and cultural protection.

!Xaus Lodge is in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Born out of the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Heritage Park land claim settlement of 2002, it’s owned by the local ǂKhomani San and Mier communities. Graded four-star, and Fair Trade Tourism certified since 2012, it offers tourists a full-service desert safari experience which includes game walks with ǂKhomani San guides, game drives, interactions with crafters and a profound opportunity to sit on the red sands of the Kalahari as day turns to night.

But while the stars are all around at night, keeping perfectly dark skies is increasingly difficult in the world of power generation. The area around !Xaus Lodge has a SQM (Sky Quality Measure) of 21.89 – out of a maximum possible score of 22, making it one of the darkest places on the planet.

!Xaus Lodge is owned by two communities from one of South Africa’s poorest areas. The ǂKhomani are people who have the oldest DNA of any race in the world. Living sustainably, with a light touch was their way, long before it became the modern way.

At the same time, tourism is being promoted as an economic revenue generator for poor rural communities. !Xaus Lodge offers a strong case study for the successful and sustainable implementation of this policy. In the first 12 years of operation, the Lodge generated more than R45 million in new economic turnover in the local area. The reason that Dark Sky Certification is such an important sustainable tourism story is that it adds a new environmental dimension – and the visitor numbers are reflecting that interest.

The finalists

Eco Messages by Emboo Camp

The Maasai Mara in Kenya is an important ecosystem full of wildlife, grasslands, forests and rivers. When exploring the Maasai Mara, every day brings new adventures and the things you see take your breath away. Going on a safari in the Maasai Mara and only leaving a positive impact behind is possible. This is the ethos of Emboo River.

Emboo River offers guests a unique safari experience which is luxurious, relaxing, educational as well as fully eco-friendly, sustainable and community focused.

Emboo River's team has rethought every aspect of the safari experience. By questioning the status quo, applying innovation and technology, and partnering with passionate people we redesigned every aspect of our operations. Essential to Emboo River’s operations is that it runs independent of external factors, such as water trucks shipping in fresh water every other day, generators for power, fuel for vehicles. Instead, everything that Emboo River needs to run its operations is found locally within the Maasai Mara. All we need is in the Maasai Mara and all we give back stays in the Maasai Mara. This is Emboo River’s Closed Loop System.

Thanks to this holistic approach towards sustainability, every part of the Emboo River experience is guided by a commitment to do right for the community and environment.

The marketing campaign focused on educating the public about all the sustainability initiatives Emboo River is involved in.

How Many Elephants by How Many Elephants

Prepare to be inspired to think big when you meet the founder of How Many Elephants, Holly Budge. She’s a badass adventurer with two world records under her belt, including being the first woman to skydive Everest and race 1000 km across Mongolia on semi-wild horses. She recently climbed to the summit of Everest to raise funds for her charity, How Many Elephants.

Through her adventures, Holly has raised over R6 million for charitable initiatives. She doesn’t stop there. Holly is insanely passionate about elephant conservation and through her innovative charity, How Many Elephants, is educating and inspiring a global audience about the devastating impacts of the African Elephant ivory trade.

Her immersive, design-led campaign will make your jaw drop; It visualises the annual poaching rate of 35K elephants in a powerful travelling art installation. Holly founded How Many Elephants while studying for a masters in Sustainable Design and the campaign is gaining momentum quicker than a charging herd of elephants. It has toured China, Hong Kong, Thailand and London and will be making its way to South Africa in 2021.

Sustainable Sierra Leone Story by Ohthepeopleyoumeet (in Conjunction with the World Bank and Ministry of Tourism of Sierra Leone)

The government of Sierra Leone has made a commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism development, including naming the critically endangered chimpanzee the national (and now protected) animal of the country.

In 2019, the brains behind, OhThePeopleYouMeet, Michaela Guzy interviewed Dr. Jane Goodall, a leading conservationist, an advocate for children’s education and community empowerment. The interview forms part of OhThePeopleYouMeet’s original production of, the now award-winning film, “Michaela’s Map: Sierra Leone.”

While you might not meet Jane during your visit to Sierra Leone, through the film, you will no doubt feel the hope for the future that Jane has instilled in the resilient people of the country.

Michaela’s interviewees are the inspiring local people that you should meet. From the one man who started a chimpanzee sanctuary and eco-lodge at Jane’s suggestion almost three decades ago, to the fearless female fashion designer breaking new ground, and the countless entrepreneurs creating sustainable job opportunities for their fellow Sierraleonians.

Most Compelling Adventure Story

The winner!

Pioneer Trail by Gondwana Game Reserve

Big Five wilderness trails are predominantly in the lowveld area and KwaZulu-Natal and the overall objective of this campaign was to showcase that Gondwana now offered an equivalent adventure safari experience in the magnificent Cape landscape.

In November 2019, the award-winning Gondwana Game Reserve on the Garden Route launched its Pioneer Trail – a 3-day walking safari for up to 8 guests per trail. Gondwana offers the first such opportunity in a fynbos-covered, malaria free landscape within easy reach of Cape Town.

Gondwana has taken the best of what South African wilderness trails have to offer and combine the journey of a new destination reached each night, similar to the Whale or Otter Trail with the guided interpretation and exhilaration of walking in a Big Five game reserve under armed expert escort offered on Kruger Park wilderness trails.

The first of its kind, participants traverse Gondwana’s spectacular, mountainous, Big Five terrain on foot reaching a new tented camp located in a different biome each night.

The finalists

Bronze Whalers by Marine Dynamic Tours

In the absence of great white sharks after the much publicised orca predation (2017), the bronze whaler (or copper shark) filled the gap and is enthralling shark cage divers. This prompted Marine Dynamics to change the narrative to focus on sharks versus just the great white sharks.

This was critical for the survival of the company, the shark cage diving industry, the town of Gansbaai and tourism for South Africa; and just as critical for the shark itself. Reaching out to tour operators, clients and the media, the bronze whaler shark has become a new star appealing to shark/nature lovers.

Marine Biologist, Alison Towner says: “We first noticed bronze whalers at the shark boats in 2013 and it has been amazing to see how they have adapted to the area in the absence of white sharks. The only other way that people are able to see bronze whalers is if scuba diving on the sardine run, which is limited to a few weeks in June and July”.

Namib100 Hike by Live The Journey

Live the Journey is passionate about creating life-enriching travel experiences. For the past 16 years they have taken the roads less travelled and packaged them into some of the most extraordinary travel experiences.

The tourism trend to visit untouched destinations that will rejuvenate your well-being is growing in demand along with experiences that will leave a low or zero carbon footprint. People are overworked, stressed and burnt out. Live the Journey wanted to answer this need and share the incredibly special Namib Desert with people in an exceptional way, making it possible for them to experience its uniqueness from a totally different perspective – on foot! The Namib100 Hike was born.

This hike is not the run-of-the-mill type of hike, but rather falls in the league of bucket-list hikes such as Kilimanjaro, the Grand Canyon or the Camino de Santiago. Hikers experience the solitude of the desert with all their senses, connect with their inner self, push self-imposed boundaries and finish this incredible adventure rejuvenated.

Road Less Travelled by TravelNews East Africa

The Road Less Travelled is campaign is designed to give readers of TravelNews East Africa rare first-hand account experiences of the “road less travelled” across three East African countries which do not get much media coverage. The intended target audience was the platform’s usual readers from the off-grid road networks in East Africa, but analytics showed that a global audience from Canada, USA, India, UK and Brazil read the story via the website and social media platforms.

Andrew Busingye from Travel News East Africa says: “No person or organisation in recent history has dared to brave the long road trips in East Africa like Travel News East Africa does, in a region where transport networks are largely substandard especially the roads yet are the most common transport modes. Travel News East Africa crew once again risked the unchartered territory of connecting Uganda-Tanzania-Burundi by road amid the political and security tensions of the Great Lakes Region”.

Most Compelling Foodie Story

The winner!

Indlovu Gin by Ibhu

Indlovu Gin – an unorthodox and unconventional gin has its makers on an incredible 18-month journey from concept through to market. The idea for the gin was born from the fusion of two African experiences. The first was the enjoyment of sipping gin and tonics around a Kenyan waterhole and the second was walking through a South African game reserve with a ranger who explained the foraging habits and digestion of African elephants. The idea was to explore whether it would be possible to produce a premium gin from the rich botanicals found in the dung of naturally foraging African elephants.

The makers also wanted to be able to give back to wildlife with the gin. They developed a virtuous circle where the elephants contribute to the gin and the gin in turn contributes back to wildlife conservation by donating 15% of the profits from gin sales. In the little over 12 months that the makers have been producing Indlovu gin, they have been able to donate R20 000 to Phinda Conservation projects.

The gin has won double gold at the South African Craft Gin Awards, achieved global media exposure and started exporting to five international destinations as well as establishing a strong national presence. Indlovu gin is an exclusive gin for the person who loves the spirit of Africa – the freedom, the sunsets, the textures and the flavours of the African bush.

The finalists

Farm to Table by CNN International Commercial with Dangote

Dangote Industries is one the most diversified business conglomerates in Africa, with multiple entities impacting the daily lives of most of the continent’s population. The company provides the population with employment opportunities that are also self-sustaining through basic needs, such as food, cement, construction, agriculture and technology.

Through a branded content production, CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) wanted to showcase Dangote Industries empowering Africans through employment and self-sufficient opportunities. Filmed and produced by CNNIC’s award-winning branded content studio Create, the campaign promotes Nigeria and the wider continent through the stories of real people, and focuses on the connections people have with each other, be it in their work and daily lives.

As such, this foodie story has a deeper message than simply highlighting Nigerian food. The character-driven story helps to change perceptions and encourage global audiences to visit Nigeria (and the African continent more generally) so they can experience and understand its culture and hospitality, in this case through its food.

It also shows that we should not look at the travel and tourism as a narrow sector, but instead view it as part of a larger socio-economic project. In this way, travel and tourism can empower and improve the lives of people in Africa – and all over the world – a goal Dangote is dedicated to realising.

Travel with Purpose by 4Roomed eKasi Culture

4Roomed eKasi Culture, a lifestyle concept based on the four roomed homes found in the oldest townships of South Africa. A life celebrated through great food, beautiful home decor and art, and the most inconceivable lifestyle ideas, evoking a sense of nostalgia while promoting an inclusive hub for all who live and visit South Africa!

It’s not every day a humble restaurant in a Cape Town township makes it on to a “Best in the world” list but the time has come for 4Roomed eKasi Culture in Khayelitsha.

Food critic Besha Rodell travelled the globe for four months to come up with the 30 best restaurants in the world, in a joint project by Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure magazines. A panel of experts put forward recommendations and Rodell visited six continents, travelled more than 100,000 miles, and spent almost 300 hours on airplanes to narrow it down to just 30.

Owner Abigial Mbalo-Mokeona says: “It is an honour for 4Roomed eKasi Culture Group to represent our community of Khayelitsha and the beautiful city of Cape Town. The 4Roomed team is committed to using food as a tool to build [the] rural and township tourism economy.”

The Travel With Purpose campaign was launched to improve the lives of South African’s living in townships.

Wild Food From Land and Sea by the Vineyard Hotel, Myoga Restaurant

Situated in the lush six-acre gardens of the Vineyard Hotel underneath the idyllic backdrop of Table Mountain, over the past 10 years Myoga has developed a world-wide reputation as one of the Cape's finest culinary attractions. With its emphases on contemporary fusion in both its food and décor, Myoga has constantly won recognition from both home and abroad.

At Myoga, they have embraced a concept of urban foraging and local sourcing. As well as embracing the nature around us and foraging in our leisure time, produce is bought from nearby communities, thereby empowering the people near to them and exposing them to more traditional and unusual flavours such as ‘amadumbe ’ (African potato) and nettles.

Chef Germaine is on Chef’s Advisory the Abolobi fish board –a platform to connect chefs with small scale fishers along the 35 fishing communities along our coasts. There is no by-catch as whichever fish is caught, may be sold to approved restaurants that fit the framework and meet all the criteria. This activity supports the whole small-scale fishing community and they are working on legislation that allows fishermen to forage when bad weather prevents fishing and would normally result in a loss of income.

In keeping with their untouched approach, Myoga hosted a fascinating 6-coursetasting menu which they call ‘Wild Food from Land and Sea’; and it had a story behind it. This was used to market the dinners – which received raving reviews.

The WTM Africa Travel & Tourism Awards shine a spotlight on exceptional individuals and businesses that have made incredible contributions to the African travel industry. Winning an award is a unique opportunity to demonstrate your ability to deliver great ideas and see your work celebrated as a source of best practice for peers to be inspired from, and to learn from.

Register your interest for 2021

Keep an eye out in the coming months for the latest WTM Africa programme and suppliers.