RTA finalists announced

In line with the 'Conservation – Small Things Matter' theme of this year's tourism expo, the greenest lodges and operators will be honoured.

27 February 2018 | Tourism

The Responsible Tourism Awards (RTA), as initiated by Namibia Media Holdings (NMH), aim to acknowledge and reward tourism operators in accommodation establishments who practise ecotourism in their operations as well as those who invest in the communities where they operate.

The awards are linked to the Namibia Tourism Expo, an annual event which brings together tourism operators from across Namibia, and neighbouring countries, to not only network, but also to market their products and services.

The winners will be announced at the official opening of the Namibia Tourism Expo that will take place at the Windhoek showgrounds on 30 May. The theme for this year's expo is 'Conservation – Small Things Matter' and the RTA winners will be selected during an assessment process that focuses on this theme.

NMH public relations executive Maggy Mbako yesterday said the awards were launched three years ago and look at appreciating and acknowledging investors and the work they do in communities.

According to her, tourism now represents 15.1% of employment in the country. The finalists were assessed with a focus on their most recent Eco-Awards assessments and their score achieved in conservation was specifically taken into account.

In total, 13 entries were received for the awards and the finalists in the category for accommodation establishments are Grootberg Lodge, Wilderness Safaris Damaraland Camp and Gondwana Namib Desert Lodge.

Grootberg Lodge is perched on top of the Grootberg Pass with stunning panoramas. It is wholly owned by the ?Khoadi-//Hoâs Conservancy and is run for the benefit of the rural community. The lodge offers a variety of activities including elephant and rhino tracking. Those travellers who would like to maximise their rest and relaxation can book massages or other beauty treatments while at the same time enjoying the vista.

Wilderness Safaris Damaraland Camp offers eco-friendly luxury in the desert. Each of its individual thatched accommodation units is built in such a way to maximise the natural cooling effect of the breeze and offer some welcome relief from the desert heat.

One of the highlights of staying at Damaraland Camp is the boma dinner where guests can enjoy a truly Namibian camp experience. Under a bright, starry sky a delicious range of Namibian meals are served, each humorously explained by the delightful staff. A small oasis in the desert, the Gondwana Namib Desert Lodge is perfectly placed at the foot of ancient fossilised sand dunes of the Namib Desert. Waking up early to watch the sunrise play and transform the colour of these remarkable dunes is a photographer's dream.

Hazel Milne, programme coordinator at Eco Awards Namibia, said it was very difficult to select the finalists, especially in the accommodation category, as their qualification scores were very close.

She explained that it is very difficult to qualify for the awards in the first place.

In the category for tour operators, the finalists are Abenteuer Afrika Safaris, Ultimate Safaris and Wild Dog Safaris.

A final vote of thanks was given by the NMH's general manager of publications, Arrie Hougaard, highlighting the importance of partnerships and the protection of the environment.

The winners as well as the runners-up in both categories will receive advertorial and editorial coverage in a Namibia Media Holdings publication of their choice. The coverage may comprise marketing of their products and services or community projects in the areas where they operate, and will be to the value of N$150 000 for the winners, and N$50 000 for the runners-up.

STAFF REPORTER

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