Arusha to host African tourism awards

Tanzania will host Tourism for the Future Awards Africa 2015 where more than 1,000 candidates representing a number of tourism businesses from over 37 countries across the continent, will be awarded in recognition of their contribution to the industry.

 

Initiated by Traveler’s Eye in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tourism for the Future Awards Africa have been internationally recognised and termed as the region’s highest accolade for sustainable tourism development.

The historical event, to be held on the June 25 in Arusha, is the first prestigious annual awards occasion by Tanzania initiated by Traveler’s Eye in collaboration with the government.

According to Traveler’s Eye Director Ms Vanessa Baldwin, more than 1,000 award applications, representing tourism businesses and destinations from over 37 countries across the continent, are expected to attend.

The aim of the tourism for the future awards, among others, is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable and globally accessible tourism with the vision of utilizing tourism as a reliable sustainable development tool.

“This one of a kind event aims to bring together the International Tourism Trade, Conservationist communities, Regional Economic bodies, Environmental Activists, Regional and International development agencies and the community with an objective of sharing knowledge, showcasing, advocating for, motivating, acknowledging and rewarding best practices in sustainable tourism across Africa,” said Ms Baldwin.

The objective of this initiative is to promote and encourage an inclusive society that enables all communities to fully benefit from the regions’ natural heritage.

In addition, Ms Baldwin said the awards are a product of “Uniting to conserve Africa’s legacy”, the first Pan-African Sustainable Tourism Campaign; a milestone resolution recognizing the contribution of sustainable tourism to poverty eradication, community development and the protection of biodiversity.

She underscored the need to utilize the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits stemming from sustainable tourism, particularly in the African region. “Tourism needs not only protection but where possible enhancement of the surrounding ecosystems to insure the continued quality of the tourism experience”, Ms Yvonne said.

As a result, tourism has a vested interest in conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable fisheries that other industries may not care as much about. It is encouraging to note that a growing movement in support of sustainable tourism has been developing in the past few years.

Sustainable tourism, Ms Baldwin said, can lead the way in demonstrating how to break the fossil fuel addiction, model good water conservation and waste management, and place a higher value on protecting biodiversity and ecosystems.

Similarly, sustainable tourism also reduces costs and increases net revenues of the business, creates economic development for the community, and is projected to create 69 million new jobs in the next decade.

The finalist selection process involves a team of 18 international experts from around the world, representing the private sector, academic institutions, non-profit organisations, and governments, come together as independent judges to select the finalists and winners.

The judging process, involves independent experts visiting each of the finalists, making it the most rigorous of any awards process in the travel and tourism industry.

The judging panel thereafter evaluates each project according to leadership criteria in sustainability that encompass tangible, measureable benefits to the environment, enhance business, and the society and communities in which they operate.

The criteria are contribution to the conservation of nature, environmental considerations, cultural heritage conservation, community involvement and benefits, educational features and benefits, Business viability and economic growth, innovation and creativity, marketing value generation (Brand enhancement) as well as health, safety and wellbeing of employees and guests, the event organisers say.

The awards comprise of seven categories: Community Award, Destination Award, Environment Award, Innovation Award, People Award, Cultural Heritage and Preservation Award and Sustainable Business Award.

Ms Baldwin further said that envisioned as far back as Mwalimu Nyerere’s speech at the Arusha Manifesto it could not be more evident that the tourism industry in Africa is at risk of losing out if “we do not protect our legacy.”

It is also a concept that depends on the involvement of all forces in society to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. “As part of the global community we as tourism stakeholders owe it not only to our businesses and societies but the globe to work towards sustainability.

Sustainable tourism is indeed a key to many global solutions and may be one of the most hopeful strategies for the global transition to sustainability,” Ms Vanessa said.

Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu congratulated Traveler’s Eye for tabling this “great forward thinking initiative”, saying that government recognises the need to bridge the gap between the growing sector, resource management and community development.

“Aligning its policies to ensure that Tanzania is at the forefront in adopting and embracing Sustainable Tourism practices, the aim is to achieve tourism that caters for and protects the environment, develops communities and enhances the economy,” he said.

He said Tanzania’s tourism sector is currently the leading economic sector earning over 1 Billion US Dollars overtaking agriculture in the year 2013/14. The tourism sector contributes about 19 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to the National Bureau of Statistics Report (2013).

Traveler’s Eye Tanzania aims to positively contribute to the development and socio environmental impact of the tourism industry across Africa.

By initiating pro-sustainable tourism projects, part taking in sustainability causes and ensuring sustainable development of Africa as a leading tourist destination region through advocating for environmental conservation and socio cultural authenticity in order to provide socioeconomic benefits for the stakeholders and host communities that are geared towards securing a sustainable future for the tourism industry in Africa and to ensure that tourism is a force for good.

Tourism for the future is tourism which optimizes the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of the industry. It serves to engage both travel & tourism businesses and tourists with the people and the places they visit and acts as a force for good.

This prestigious event shall put Tanzania on the map for the global quest to achieve sustainable development and natural resources management, changing the landscape of the country’s tourism sector to become more sustainable.

It shall also set a benchmark for the region’s tourism industry, putting Tanzania in the forefront of the sustainability quest, this internationally documented event shall also have a trickle-down effect on the economy at large and also provide the opportunity to further showcase Tanzania’s tourism resources globally.

Tanzanians are therefore encouraged to be receptive of the need to become more sustainable in not only tourism practices but also in managing other natural resources.

The Tourism for the Future Awards partners include the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Connect 4 Climate-World Bank and Travel Extra. – Daily News Tanzania

May 2015
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