A Kenyan-based conservation organisation has made it to the list of finalists in the coveted Annual African Tourism Leadership Awards (ATLA) 2019.
Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF), which exclusively focuses on Africa’s wildlife and wild lands, was recognised under the category of championing sustainability award.
Announcing the finalists at a glamorous gala dinner held at Durban International Convention Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, on Thursday, August 29, the ATLA adjudication committee co-chair Judy Kepher-Gona disclosed winners were arrived at following a rigorous evaluation process.
“The African tourism sector is growing with many new entrants offering competitive tourism products. It was quite a task for the evaluation team to reduce the over nominees to 24 finalists.
We are, however, confident that we have managed to identify the individuals and enterprises who are doing excellent work in the sector,” said Kepher-Gona, executive director at Kenya’s Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda.
Kepher-Gona’s remarks were echoed by her co-chaired Marina Novelli, professor of Tourism and International Development and Responsible Futures’Academic Lead at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom (UK), who added special attention was given to nominees who demonstrated commitment to leadership through sustainability and innovation in tourism practices.
“ATLA is the only Pan-African travel and tourism awards that seeks to recognise these key attributes. It focuses on change-making pioneered by Africans, in Africa and for Africans,” said Novelli.
Besides Africa Wildlife Foundation, African Parks and South Africa Mantis Collection were also recognised under the championing sustainability award category.
The other award categories in the ATLA 2019 competition included leading in progressive policies; outstanding entrepreneurship; women in leadership, most innovative business tourism destination; outstanding accommodation facility; outstanding tourism transportation; and outstanding Africa tourism media and marketing.
Botswana’s Ministry of Tourism, Rwanda Tourism Development Board (RTDB) and Ghana Tourism Authority were named finalists under the leading in progressive policies award category.
South Africa’s CAM Consulting Group, WeMove Technologies Ltd in Nigeria and Ghana’s Wojo Ghana were the finalists under the outstanding entrepreneurship award category.
Francine Zana and Belise Kariza from Rwanda and South Africa respectively and Elcia Grandcourt from Seychelles made it to the list of top three in the women in leadership category.
Ethiopian Airlines emerged winner in the outstanding tourism transportation group although Mango Airlines and Avis South Africa also received special recognition.
Cape Town, Western Cape and Kigali city in South Africa, Ghana and Rwanda respectively were the finalists in the most innovative business tourism destination category.
Outstanding accommodation award had Mantis Collection in South Africa, Mali’s Azalai Hotel Group and Wilderness Safaris in Botswana.
Rainmaker Digital in Namibia and South Africa, Voyages Afriq in Ghana and Nigeria’s Pen it Multi Media Limited grabbed the top three spots in the outstanding Africa tourism media and marketing group.
The ATLA 2019 finalists were unveiled at the end of the second Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) 2019 which was also held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The three-day forum themed inspiring intra-Africa travel and tourism through thought brought together key stakeholders in Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and device strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent.
Africa Tourism Leadership Forum is the only event of its kind in Africa that puts the spotlight on tourism as a major economic pillar for diversifying African economies.
“We do not need to remind you that Africa is considered a continent of wonders in the tourism world. We can find so much in your beautiful continent, not least of which is the Big five (5), unique species of flora, and other wonders like the Serengeti migration.
With so many changes in the world’s climate and the consequences of flora, fauna and off course the people, it is all more significant that we need to develop the tourism sector in a way that meets developmental objectives which include sustainability,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This year’s forum, a continuation of the dialogue that started during the inaugural ATLF in Ghana on August 30, 2018, opened with the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit (AYTIS), the first ever continental youth in tourism summit.
The Africa Youth Innovation Summit is a continental platform for youth in tourism, travel, hospitality, aviation, academia and all related industries to connect, engage, learn and grow.
“Africa’s time has come, Ke Nako. It is also the time for young people on the continent since Africa is a relatively young continent with a median age of about 19 years. By 2046, the median age is expected to reach 25 years. Young people will therefore continue to constitute about half of the population of most countries on the continent in the next three to five decades.
While this is part of the continent’s competitive strength, it also poses challenges for society. One of the foremost challenges include how to ensure young people are not pushed further to the periphery of society by the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Christelle Grohmann, director at BDO, South Africa.