Wilderness Safaris has won the prestigious 2017 Namibia Responsible Tourism Award for its exemplary commitment to sustainable conservation tourism at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, announced at the opening of the Namibian Tourism Expo in Windhoek on 31 May 2017.
Hosted by Namibia Media Holdings/Tourismus and Eco Awards Namibia, the Responsible Tourism Awards are held annually to encourage best practice in the local ecotourism industry. “It was an honour for Eco Awards Namibia to select the four finalists – Gondwana’s Etosha Safari Lodge, Ongava Tented Camp, Wilderness Safaris Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and Jackalberry Camp”, said Hazel Milne, Eco Awards Programme Coordinator.
In addition to the prerequisite of having at least Four Eco-Award Flowers, all finalists provided evidence of excellent performance, measured against various principles of sustainable tourism, including sustainable management, natural resources, waste handling, building and landscaping, staff, legal compliance and social responsibility initiatives aimed at poverty eradication.
The winner was then selected from a secondary assessment, with criteria based on the theme of the 2017 Namibian Tourism Expo – Safe Travel. According to Milne, “It was an honour to hand over the award to Jack Chakanga from Wilderness Safaris together with Hon. Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, and to highlight the importance of pioneering best sustainability practice in Namibia’s ecotourism industry”.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp was selected as the winner from over 13 entrants. The prizes include N$250 000 in editorial and advertorial coverage of which Hoanib will receive extensive coverage in all Namibia Media Holdings run newspapers, as well as a cash prize of N$100 000 for community upliftment.
In addition to its light eco-footprint and high standards of sustainability practices, including being 100% solar powered, Hoanib is part of a joint partnership between Wilderness Safaris and the neighbouring Community-based Conservancies of Anabeb, Torra and Sesfontien. “This partnership gives us the rights to manage the concession for 20 years, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the camp and our conservation efforts with the buy-in from our neighbouring communities; this support is crucial to the ongoing success of Hoanib”, said Jack Chakanga, Wilderness Safaris Namibia Environmental Officer.
Chakanga added that it was encouraging to receive local support and buy-in for Wilderness Safaris’ vision and commitment to its 4Cs sustainability ethos of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce. “As Hoanib is currently the only Wilderness Safaris Namibia camp to have received Five Eco-Award Flowers, we are extremely proud of this further recognition for our sustainability efforts, which helps set the camp as a benchmark for the rest of our portfolio. We are inspired to continue pioneering authentic and sustainable ecotourism in the region”.