Showcasing Best Practice in the Industry

The Awards reward excellence in Responsible Tourism. Sharing a common set of categories for each of the four regions: Africa, Latin America and the Rest of the World. Free to enter, they provide an opportunity to showcase your achievements on a global stage. Entries for all regions are now closed.

1. Decarbonising Travel & Tourism

Climate change is with us. It is something we now have to learn to live with. Climate change will have profound consequences for businesses in our sector and people and wildlife in originating markets and destinations. We must also find ways to reduce the amount of carbon that people travelling and on holiday cause to be emitted. We have to change the production and consumption of tourism – travel, accommodation, attractions and activities all need to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through the Awards we would like to showcase examples of technologies, management systems and ways of changing consumer behaviour that have demonstrably reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic

We recognise that the pandemic is far from over, and as the World Health Organization rightly reminds us, we are not safe until we are all safe. It will take many more months before travel and holiday volumes recover to whatever the “new normal” will be. We are aware that many businesses and organisations in the travel and tourism sector have worked hard to sustain their employees and the communities in which they operate with really positive impacts around the world. Many of these efforts have involved others in their supply chain and consumers. We would like to recognise and draw attention to those who have successfully helped others, employees and neighbours alike, to weather the storm.

3. Destinations Building Back Better Post-Covid

In the Awards last year, we saw several destinations which were beginning to rethink the tourist volumes and market segments that they will attract post-Covid and some who were considering demarketing. The apparently inexorable increase in visitor numbers has been halted by the pandemic. Many destinations have had a “breather”. A reminder of what their place was like before the hordes arrived. An opportunity to rethink tourism and perhaps to decide to use tourism rather than be used by it.

4. Increasing Diversity in Tourism: How Inclusive is our Industry?

We travel to experience other cultures, communities, and places. If everywhere was the same, why travel? Though we seek diversity through travel, we’ve noticed that diversity is not always reflected in the industry that helps others have such experiences. Diversity is a broad term: “identities include, but are not limited to, ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, immigration status, intellectual differences, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.” We do not expect to find an organisation that has made demonstrable progress on all of these in the last few years. For our industry, it is about who we employ at various levels, who we market to, the way we present the destinations we sell, the range of experiences we promote, and the stories we tell.

5. Reducing Plastic Waste in the Environment

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of single-use plastic, adding to the plastic waste crisis. Plastic waste is now entering the food chain of other species as well as ours. Once plastic enters watercourses, it ends in gyros of garbage in the oceans, on beaches and in the stomachs of fish we then eat. The industry needs to do more to reduce its use of single-use plastics and take responsibility and work with local communities and their governments to capture waste plastic with nets and floating barriers and upcycle it for as cobbles, furniture and crafts.

6. Growing the Local Economic Benefit

There is still a place for CSR1.0 and philanthropy, as is evident from last year’s Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic category. However, by adapting the way they do business, accommodation providers and tour operators can create additional market opportunities for local communities in their supply chains and create opportunities to sell goods and services directly to tourists. This diversifies the local economy and enriches the destination in both senses, creating additional livelihoods for locals and a richer range of activities, food and drink, and craft and art products for tourists.

Destinations can assist these changes by, amongst other things, providing micro-finance, training and mentoring, creating market places and performance spaces and providing marketing assistance.

7. Access for the Differently-Abled: as Travellers, Employees and Holidaymakers

One of the aspirations of Responsible Tourism is to enable everyone to participate in tourism whether as a traveller, holidaymaker or employee. The differently-abled are often identified as a wealthy market segment, but many are not. Disability excludes many from taking a holiday often for multiple reasons, including cost. For the travel and tourism industry to be fully inclusive and enable families to travel together, it needs to ensure access for those with a range of disabilities and enhance their experience. Too often excluded from employment in our industry, the differently-abled have skills to offer.

8. Increasing Tourism’s Contribution to Natural Heritage and Biodiversity

Charismatic wildlife is a big draw for many travellers, and the enjoyment of natural heritage forms at least part of many trips, many have wildlife as the core attraction. Tourists want to see the charismatic megafauna which can no longer be seen, in the wild, in their home country. National parks and wildlife areas with elephants, lions, tigers and bears, exist only where local communities bear the opportunity costs of not farming the land or extracting resources from it.

Rarely do visitors contribute enough to cover the full costs of their enjoyment of the wildlife, with local communities excluded from the reserve seeing it only when their crops are damaged. The activities of tourists as photo safaris “hunt” charismatic megafauna too often disturb the hunting, mating, eating

and breeding of wildlife.

We are looking to recognise businesses and destinations, parks and conserved areas, where tourism is “net positive”  investing in the natural heritage, ensuring that local communities benefit, facilitating visits to see the wildlife for local children or adults, and where drivers and guides are effectively minimising wildlife disturbance.

9. Conserving Water and Improving Water Security and Supply for Neighbours

When people travel, they often use more water than they do at home, partly as a consequence of being at leisure in accommodation designed to encourage indulgence and partly because they are unaware of the local supply issues, a problem compounded by people holidaying in drier more arid areas.

The judges are looking for examples of businesses and destinations which are reducing water consumption per guest, recycling and reusing greywater, businesses providing potable water for neighbours, and destinations raising awareness of water scarcity, measuring consumption by the sector or managing reduction.

10. Contributing to Cultural Heritage

Tourism can contribute to the maintenance of living and built cultural heritage creating additional revenue through entrance fees, encouraging donations from visitors, or encouraging investment in heritage to attract tourists and day visitors. But it is not just about financial resources. The interest of visitors in local heritage can remind communities of the value of their built and living heritage and ensure that it is valued and conserved for future generations. Through the purchase of locally produced art and craft, tourists can make a significant contribution to maintain a thriving and developing culture from painting to wood carving and from fine art to agriculture.

The judges are looking for entries from businesses museums, galleries or destinations where tourism is 

making a positive contribution to the conservation and development of built, exhibited or living cultural heritage or where negative impacts are managed and reduced. destinations where tourism is making a positive contribution.

Entries for all regions are now closed.

2022 Awards

Entries open 01 December 2021
Closing entry dates
28 Feb 22
Rest of the World
31 Aug 22
Regional Awards Winners At Regional shows 22
Latin America
5-7 Apr 22
11-13 Apr 22
Rest of the World
7-9 Nov 22
Global Award Winners
7-9 Nov 22

Hear from our previous winners...

Transfrontier Parks Destinations

See what Glynn O’Leary, CEO of the African tour operator Transfrontier Parks Destinations has to say about what winning has meant to them.

Village Ways

And Manish Pande, CEO of Village Ways, an India company offering walking tours in rural India


The Municipality of Gansbaai won a Gold Award for Best Destination in 2015, and two businesses in the municipality have also won Gold: Grootbos and Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Cruising.


Celebrate others and nominate a Business or Destination that deserves recognition for their work and to encourage them to apply to enter these awards.