Malawi Tops the Lists in Responsible Tourism

Leaders in the field of responsible tourism were recognised at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards at a recent ceremony at World Travel Market (WTM), London, as part of World Responsible Tourism Day.

Malawi’s brilliant Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, the world’s first Born Free Foundation accredited People and Wildlife Centre, won the ‘Best for Conservation of Wildlife & Habitats’ award beating off stiff, very deserving competition.

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is a wildlife rescue, conservation and education centre in the heart of Malawi's capital city, supported by Born Free both financially and technically since its inception 4 years ago. The Centre has reclaimed and revived 90 hectares of urban wilderness to provide sanctuary for rescued, orphaned and injured wild animals in Malawi, and promotes conservation to locals and tourists alike. It now takes over 20,000 visitors per year, showing its value as a centre for both the people and wildlife of Malawi.

At a sister ceremony in Johannesburg, Malawi was getting further attention at the Imvelo Awards. Imvelo awards tourism businesses that demonstrate sustained responsible practice in their operations in terms of their natural, social and economic environments.

Kayak Africa’s Mumbo Island in Southern Malawi was selected a finalist in three categories for Responsible Tourism in Africa. These were ‘best overall environmental management system’, ‘best waste management system’ and ‘best social involvement programme’. Whilst they didn’t win in these categories it remains a great achievement to have their work recognised at such a high level as a pioneering force for good and an asset to Malawian tourism.

Not forgetting the overall winners of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards- Robin Pope Safaris (based in Malawi) scooped not only this award but won in the Poverty Reduction category as well. Over 1000 nominees competed for these accolades and RPS bagged two proving just how deserving their Malawian efforts are.

Robin Pope Safaris operate lodges such asMkulumadzi within rare ecosystems and alongside local indigenous communities with which comes a great amount of responsibility. Using their own Responsible Tourism Policy, RPS have successfully balanced the delivery of high quality safari and beach holiday experiences, whilst ensuring they leave a positive footprint on the land and communities within which they operate. As well as pioneering sustainable and responsible tourism, RPS’s Pumulani resort also won ‘Malawi’s Leading Hotel’ at the World Travel Awards 2011- impressive, to say the least.

Quoting the judges on the award, '20 years of commitment to grass roots sustainable community development have distinguished Robin Pope Safaris as a pioneer in responsible tourism. Their contribution to local livelihoods in South Luangwa through education and business development has established an inspiring model that even now is being rolled out to Malawi, with the promise of similar laudable effect.’