Silver award: & Beyond
To infinity &Beyond would be a good strapline for this safari company which, as well as offering luxury safari holidays in many African countries, is now stretching across the globe to take guests to see the wildlife wonders of South Asia and South America. And with such a pioneering spirit when it comes to safaris and wildlife conservation, and in particular with regards to their work along the coast of Zanzibar, it's no wonder there's a 'buzz' about them.
&Beyond also goes into the stratosphere in terms of luxury on their safaris, owning or operating chic lodges in nineteen of the countries they visit. The Getty family was a founder investor, so enough said. It's classy. It has a class act when it comes to responsible tourism too and this award focuses, in particular on its work in the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area (MIMCA) that surrounds &Beyond's private Mnemba Island off the coast of Zanzibar. An area that is now protected thanks to perseverance of &Beyond to persuade the Zanzibar Department of Fisheries and also Zanzibari fishing communities to protect it.
The demarcation of this zone has also meant that specific areas have been set aside for snorkelling, diving and fishing. People who dip in and out, literally, of these waters for recreation purposes also pay daily a fee for doing so, and the income generated from this is used to create sustainable development projects for fishing communities. Which was a good selling point when it came to putting in place the restrictions, as fishing boats were obliged to reduce the use of net fishing off the coral reef, and, therefore, embrace more sustainable fishing practices in deeper waters outside the zone. MIMCA has been so successful that the whole north-eastern coast of Zanzibar has now also been declared a conservation area. And this is just one of &Beyond's wildlife projects. So, watch this space, because there will be sequels.
Silver award: Turtle Bay Beach Club
It is still rare to see the words 'all inclusive' and 'responsible' on the same page, because the two concepts are not usually happy bedfellows. Guests can lie in their beds at night at this North Kenyan resort with a clean conscience however, that they are supporting a business that practises what it preaches. To be responsible. The turtles that thrive on their Watamu coastline are pretty happy in their beds too.
As well as having an impressive responsible tourism policy since 2004, minimising energy and waste, and demonstrating an exemplary involvement in local communities, Turtle Bay Beach Club co-founded the Watamu Marine Association (WMA) in 2008. WMA brings together tourism businesses, conservationists and communities with one mission: to preserve the Watamu Marine National Park. Not one of Kenya's most famous national parks, but an aqua arcadia if ever there was one. Beach clean ups are high on the agenda, with Turtle Bay Beach Club sponsoring weekly ones led by women and young people from Watamu Community Groups, who are employed part-time to gather up waste, gain income from recycling it, either by passing it on to recycling companies, or using it to create handmade gifts, which are then sold.
Such clean ups work hand in hand with Turtle Bay Beach Club's involvement in the work of local organisations Local Ocean Trust and Watamu Turtle Watch, which protect the endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles that favour the sea grass meadows of the Watamu Marine National Park. The resort also works closely with activity providers in the Park, and they strive to ensure that all partners adhere to responsible dolphin watching, scuba diving, snorkelling and windsurfing practices, with the coral gardens of the Park being home to over 300 species of fish alone. So, although Kenya might be famous her Big Five, Turtle Bay Beach Club is all about watching communities thrive, and the waters alive.