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Responsible tourism Awards

What does it mean to be an Award winner...

Since launching in 2004, the Awards have been dedicated to uncovering the inspiring stories of responsible tourism. We’ve sought out the real innovators, the thought leaders, the hidden gems and unsung heroes, the difference-makers and industry-shakers.

The Awards shine a light – not just as a beacon for those looking for the leading providers of responsible tourism experiences, but as a spotlight on those whose efforts have gone unnoticed, whose stories are waiting to be told.

With the experience of countless travellers, and the expertise of an industry ready to make the next step in responsible tourism, we’ve been able to gather those stories and share them with the world. But what does it mean for the winners – for the people and places whose stories we share?

Here some of our previous winners share what the Awards recognition means to them...

Have you been one of our Award winners or on our Longlist in the past? Share what being recognised meant for your business in the comments below, or email awards [at] responsibletravel [dot] com.

Semadep Safari Camp winners


"For Hetta Huskies, the Gold Award meant that we could approach, with credibility, a number of key players linked to animal welfare and tourism in Finland. As a result, we were able to generate sufficient interest in the subject to kick-start two EU-supported projects tied to the responsible use of animals in tourism. Now, a diverse group of stakeholders including veterinarians, 11 key Finnish entrepreneurs, researchers and representatives of institutions overseeing standards in tourism and animal welfare both in Finland and internationally are meeting and networking regularly."
Anna McCormack, Hetta Huskies, Gold Winner "Best for Wildlife Conservation" 2015

"The World Responsible Tourism Awards are in a class above all other awards. They are given to those with vision. These awards cannot be bought. The judges are giants in their fields, and research each nomination in depth. It doesn't matter if a candidate is a big company or a tiny one, well-known or obscure, from a rich country or a poor one. These awards are judged on merit alone.

For many of us, winning a World Responsible Tourism Award is a landmark moment that will never be forgotten. To be recognised internationally by such a discerning and respected panel is a dream come true."
Janine Duffy & Roger Smith, Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours
Jean and Anne de Villiers, Chole Mjini Lodge
Kuldip Gadhvi, Kutch Adventures India
Lara Mostert & Tony Blignaut, SAASA

"As a tiny business, swimming against the tide for so many years, we often wondered if we were just dreamers. Winning this award, and achieving recognition from great leaders of thought, has confirmed that we were not wrong. This has done more for us than anything - to feel part of a community who believes we can turn this world around.

Since winning we have seen outpourings of support from all over the world, including our own backyard, from contacts we never suspected of being interested in sustainable travel. Sometimes it takes something like this to bring everyone together on the same side."
Janine Duffy & Roger Smith and the team at Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, Gold winner "Best for Wildlife Conservation" 2014

"Fourteen years ago, when we opened our doors for business to the public, our biggest supporter bluntly told us that he loved our concept but we were “commercially illogical”. By receiving this prestigious award we are recognized as leaders in this very vital issue of sustainable, responsible tourism and this means so very much to us because of how it changes public perception. We are now "visionaries" not commercially illogical, naïve idealists.

We only hope that we are not a flavor of the month and that the award will give us the required exposure, such that other people will in the future take our business model seriously and possibly adapt the best parts thereof for their own businesses. Thank you for giving us the gravitas that is needed to present an alternative, and we hope better, way of doing beach tourism."
Jean and Anne de Villiers, Chole Mjini Lodge, Gold winner "Best for Beach Tourism" 2014.

2014 Award winners

"Few years ago, I didn't know the term "Responsible Tourism", however, keeping faith in our responsible tourism practices in India's most western district - Kutch - and getting feedback from our valuable visitors from all over the world, Kutch Adventures India managed to succeed to win most valuable recognition that can help us inspire some other people around the world, and this is how we can shape the tourism industry and hopefully other industries would also act more responsibly to make the world even more beautiful and sustainable.

Thank you so much Judges, Responsible Travel Team and all our Sponsors."
Kuldip Gadhvi, founder and tour leader at Kutch Adventures India, Gold winner "Best for engaging people and culture" 2014.

“The World Responsible Tourism Awards accolade is the unmistakable recognition of our tireless efforts to educate the public about wildlife conservation and the plight of wild animals living within our modern society. It is because of SAASA’s (The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance) no-touch policy that we have been recognised. There is after all ZERO conservation value in petting, prodding, riding and posing with wildlife.

This award will undoubtedly help us to communicate this message more effectively and to a wider audience. It is time to outlaw the abusive pet-play-and-pay industry. The travel community – all members of the travel industry - must lead by example.”
Lara Mostert & Tony Blignaut and the teams at our SAASA, Gold winner "Best Animal Welfare Initiative" and Joint Overall Winner 2014.

"Year after year we was surprised attending the WTM and seeing that the "tourism for all" was not a category of the World Responsible Tourism Awards: “Responsible but not for everybody?”. This year we have the double joy of seeing that accessible tourism is more present in the concept of Responsible Tourism, and seeing that we are rewarded together with two impressive projects that have deserved the Gold, in Brazil and Ireland.

Our award makes us a little more visible, and last week we have been selected like reference of the European accessible tourism, by the ENAT (European Network for Accessible Tourism) to represent the institution at the United Nations event GSSD Expo 2014 in Washington, global forum where we have presented our work.

Thank you very much to the organizers and to the jury, and especially thank you very much to our hoteliers, without whom NATIVE would make no sense."
Pablo Ramón, NATIVE Charming Hotels and Accessible Tourism

Destination Roros “Winning the award for Best Destination has really made a difference for Røros. We have usually had around 90% domestic tourists, and very few countries have known about us.This silence is now broken, and the world is listening!

The award has contributed to major national and international recognition, and we have had a fantastic increase in the number of inquiries from both buyers, students, the press and from other Destinations who want to learn how to proceed in order to become more sustainable and responsible themselves. And we are willingly sharing our knowledge to others; sustainability are for sharing!

The Responsible Tourism Award has also led to the great pride and helped to further strengthen the internal interaction in our destination. And we believe winning this award also led to the Tourism for Tomorrow Award that we won in 2012.

I believe we are maybe the first ones to win this two global awards with only half a year in between! The increased attention means also that we now must build the financial muscle to handle the increased demand at our destination, and we are aiming to continue the sustainable development in Røros.”
Hilde Bergebakken, Development Manager - Destination Røros

Simon Reeve supports the Responsible Tourism Awards
Professor Harold Goodwin
Read about our winners