Responsible Tourism Partnership has announced that South African conservation organisation, Wildlife ACT, has been awarded first place for ‘Best for Nature-Positive Tourism’ at the prestigious WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards for 2023.
Having won Gold at the WTM Africa World Responsible Tourism earlier this year, Wildlife ACT was then entered into the pool of regional winners to compete for the global top spot. Significantly, five out of eight of the award categories were championed by African organisations, marking an impressive achievement for the continent.
These awards play a vital role in promoting and encouraging responsible and sustainable tourism practices within the travel industry. They provide recognition and visibility to those who are leading the way in responsible tourism and inspire others to follow suit.
“The WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards not only showcase the best of the best in responsible tourism, but sets the compass for our global industry in creating sustainable travel and holiday experiences,” says Megan De Jager, Portfolio Director – Travel, Tourism & RX Africa Marketing.
More on South African winner: Wildlife ACT
Wildlife ACT is a conservation organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, that focuses on on-the-ground endangered species conservation efforts, the daily monitoring of priority species within protected areas, and the management of human-wildlife conflict, and the promotion of community involvement in conservation.
Of particular focus for the organisation is the critically endangered African Wild Dog and Black Rhino, as well as the six Vulture species found in South Africa – of which, several are critically endangered. Through the help of their voluntourism model, Wildlife ACT has been able to provide sustained, free professional monitoring services to more than ten Zululand protected areas for 15 years, as well as contributing endangered species management across Africa, and the restoration of North Island, Seychelles.
The importance of community
Many people living adjacent to South Africa’s protected areas and national parks have only a view across the fence. Wildlife ACT understands that in order for conservation efforts to be sustainable and meaningful, these gaps need to be filled. Their Community Conservation Programme aims to encourage participation in, and strengthen peoples’ understanding of, the conservation sector, showcasing the value of nature and highlighting economic opportunities in the sector.
This global award for Best Nature-Positive Tourism highlights the importance of Wildlife ACT’s voluntourism and community conservation models, which go hand-in-hand with the essential conservation work performed by their team.
“I am extremely proud of our dedicated team of Wildlife ACT conservationists who are so committed to our endangered and priority species of wildlife. This award is a reflection of their passion and dedication. I also want to thank the incredible volunteers who have joined our projects to make a meaningful and quantifiable contribution to our projects. Without your hands-on involvement, Wildlife ACT simply would not have been able to achieve what we have the same level of impact over the last 15 years.” – Johan Maree – Wildlife ACT Co-Founder and Director.
This incredible recognition is a remarkable achievement, not only for Wildlife ACT and its partners, but also for South Africa and the continent as a whole. Africa continues to make its mark and stand out as a destination of choice for responsible travellers.