We are so proud of our local winners in a global award that searches and celebrates the most inspiring and enduring responsible tourism experiences in the world.
Open to any organisation anywhere, the aim is to surprise and inspire tourists and the tourism industry by what it is possible, and to shine a light on the best of the best.
Best Destination for Responsible Tourism – was gold winner Gansbaai
Gansbaai is a town in the Overberg region of the Western Cape in South Africa that has transformed itself from fishing village to one of South Africa’s most exciting, and community led adventure hubs, a process that has been led by the Gansbaai Tourism Association – one of South Africa’s most proactive and passionate clusters of tourism businesses, from fishermen to fynbos conservationists. Likened to an oyster that the local fishermen have opened only to discover a pearl inside – but that they then go on to share with all the world.
Best for Poverty Reduction – was silver winner Grootbos
Awarded to a tourism organisation with a creative and long-term approach to reducing poverty among local communities, the category is one of the longest standing categories of the World Responsible Tourism Awards.
It looks for organisations that can prove significant reduction of poverty in a local community, a long-term sustainable vision for continuing their work, and provide a working example for others tourism providers around the world.
Grootbos is a highly prestigious, 5* private nature reserve and eco resort in the Gansbaai region of South Africa right down on the southern tip. It may seem wonderfully remote to visitors, but it is tied in with the local communities in ways that guests often won’t even know about. Because, as their stunning video tells you, “We are but a single thread in this complex web, bound together inextricably to conserve and protect diversity, to seek solutions that support humanity, to live in harmony with nature.”
Apart from a fundamental commitment to the fact that conservation can’t happen without community support, Grootbos has the long term alleviation of poverty and the empowerment of the people living in the Walker Bay region at the core of everything they do. Which is why they set up the Grootbos Foundation in 2003, supported by funds raised through the business, but also through donations.
One of their projects is a Football Foundation, which isn’t suprising, given that Grootbos gets the fact that breaking poverty cycles is all about skills. Teaching them, sharing them and rewarding them.
Whether they are football coaching skills, animal husbandry, kitchen gardening, organic farming, hospitality, or training to be FGSA qualified nature guides, skills are empowering. Grootbos employees are actively encouraged to train in other areas within the company, to move up and manage their skills ambitiously.
Grootbos strives to source as many products and services locally as possible, but when you are working in a region where unemployment levels are over 30%, this is not easy. So, they are training and teaching, mentoring and motivating, so that eventually the local businesses will grow, and poverty will shrink.
And we think that’s a great Grootbos goal and are ardent supporters – look over Natural Abundance for more on what they offer.