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Responsible tourism Awards

Best Destination for Responsible Tourism

Best Destination for Responsible Tourism
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Best Destination for Responsible Tourism

The Best destination for responsible tourism category is awarded to a holiday destination setting an inspirational and influential example for responsible tourism.

Explained: The Best destination category is for those destinations who put their unique community and environment at the heart of exciting and memorable tourism experiences; places which use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. Whether a village, town, city, region or country, the Best destination category is looking for places that inspire and promote responsible holiday experiences that celebrate and protect the best of their destination.

Previous winners include Bonito, Brazil; The New Forest, UK; Roros, Norway; and New Zealand.

What the Judges want: A destination with a committed and broad integrated approach to responsible tourism, one that inspires and excites, and provides an example of best practice for other destinations around the world.

NOTE: Individual hotels or resorts are not eligible to enter this category.


V&A Waterfront, Cape Town was awarded as our gold winner. There are no Silver Award winners in this category for 2014.

Gold award: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

V and A Waterfront

It must be hard for Cape Town residents to imagine the V&A Waterfront not being there now, having put the city's run down harbour area back on the map. Big time. Since opening in 1990, it spreads over 326 acres of this historic area in Table Bay with leisure, entertainment and shopping outlets to play in. Yet all the time keeping a view back out on the water, reflecting the marine heritage attached to it.

A model for harbour regeneration, the V&A has reconnected a city with its waterfront, not only the visitors but also the 16,500 people employed there. It is still a maritime mecca, with a working harbour that caters for luxury yachts and day cruisers but also local fishing boats, which occupy 60% of the harbour and offer tourists the opportunity to share in fishing experiences. You can enjoy the historic maritime aspect too, by going on a walking tour of the historic sites of the V&A Waterfront, so called because, historically, it was opened by Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's second son in 1870. Although contemporary commercialism is in full swing here, you can still visit the 1900's breakwaters and basins, piers and power station, docks and clock house with an expert guide on this hugely popular walking tour.

As well as remembering back, the V&A Waterfront has its vision fixed on the future too. It committed to a sustainability programme in 2011 and, since then, has endeavoured to implement best practices throughout the entire property as well as encouraging its suppliers to follow suit. For example, its old grain silo complex has been overhauled into residential areas, as well as a planned modern art gallery, designed by leading UK designer Thomas Heatherwick no less. The former have been awarded 6 star Green Star SA rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) for environmentally-friendly construction. In 2012, the Heritage Environmental Company, an initiative that issues environmental ratings to the tourism and hospitality industries in Africa, also awarded the V&A Waterfront a Heritage Gold classification, the first property of its kind in Africa to have been awarded this prestigious award. And for contemporary culture, there is also a thriving craft market place, just opened in 2014, called The Watershed, which is home to 150 local artists, from textile designers to furniture makers to jewellers. V&A Waterfront certainly is regeneration to inspire this generation, next generation, and many more after that.

For more information see the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town website.

Winner: Bonito, Brazil


Judges' reasons for winning: "Bonito was launched as a tourism destination when its natural beauty was revealed on Brazilian television in 1990; in 2012 it received 190,000 tourists. Bonito is famous for its crystal clear waters, caves, mountain and forests with diverse wildlife to be found in a national park and ten private reserves. As tourists began to arrive several concerns emerged: there was fear that unregulated tourism could impact on the environment. The private sector businesses and the public authorities realised that tourism development in Bonito needed to be managed so they developed a voucher system to control visitor numbers. The judges were impressed by the voucher system and keen to recognise its contribution to ensuring the sustainability of the destination."

Winner: Highly Commended: 2012
Winner: St Kilda, Scotland
The St Kilda islands were abandoned in 1930 by the remaining 36 islanders when life on St Kilda became unsustainable and the buildings rapidly fell into disrepair. Between 2008 and 2010 the National Trust for Scotland carried out a sympathetic restoration.

The judges saw the National Trust for Scotland's work in St Kilda, the UK's only mixed-World Heritage site - important to both the cultural and natural heritage of the World - as a good example of the contribution which tourism can make to the maintenance of built cultural heritage in remote areas.

Awards winner

Highly commended:
Liverpool, UK

Winner: Destination Røros, Norway
"This former mining-town in Norway may have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, but it's been preserving traditions as a tourist destination for over 85 years. Attracting over one million visitors each year, the town of just 3700 inhabitants maintains its sense of place through a 'local knowledge' programme run for over 90 businesses, local food safaris and much more."

Highly commended:
Forest of Bowland, UK

Winner: City of Cape Town, South Africa
The City of Cape Town has taken responsibility for identifying and prioritising local issues from a responsible tourism perspective. The City’s Tourism Department has worked in conjunction with its colleagues in the city administration and the industry to develop a Responsible Tourism Charter which commits both the industry and the city government to address the local priorities and to report on progress. Signatories have committed to define measurable goals and to monitor and report publicly on progress.

Highly commended:
Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, UK

Winner: New Zealand
For developing an integrated approach to tourism development at the national level and managing it: identifying and then attracting those tourists who contribute most to the economy, focussing on yield rather than merely on numbers of arrivals, spreading the benefits of tourism and fully integrating environmental issues into its quality standard Qualmark Green.

Highly commended:
Town of Bouctouche, Canada
St Peter's, Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK

Winner: The New Forest
For demonstrating how the economic, social and environmental objectives of Responsible Tourism can be achieved with the full participation of all the stakeholders at the destination level. The New Forest has set an example which others are seeking to emulate and surpass.

Highly commended:
Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
Costa Rica

Winner: Aspen, Colorado
This is a destination with a long list of ‘green firsts’. Thanks to the efforts of the Aspen Skiing Company, it is leading the field in environmentally friendly skiing as well as destination stewardship, pushing for affordable housing, investing in local farmland and subsidizing local buses. A widely replicable format that the judges felt should influence European destinations.

Highly commended:
The Greenbox, North West Ireland
Travel Foundation Tobago
Read about our winners