A luxury safari company – Robin Pope Safaris, and a social enterprise operating walking tours of London by the homeless – Sockmob Events/Unseen Tours, are the joint winners of this year’s Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.
At a ceremony hosted at World Travel Market (WTM), ExCel, London, as part of World Responsible Tourism Day, the Awards were handed out by Justin Francis, Managing Director of responsibletravel.com, organisers and founders of the Awards, and Amanda Wills, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, in their fifth year as headline sponsor of the Awards.
The Judges said:
“This year the Judges wanted to Award two joint overall winners to recognise both long term excellence, and bold innovative new ideas. Robin Pope Safaris’ 20 year record of remarkable work with local communities in Zambia is a standard for tourism organisations to aspire to. At the same time, Sock Mob Events/Unseen Tours offers a glimpse of new perspectives for the future. The Judges feel the combination of proven and new, Africa and London, demonstrate the breadth of achievement in responsible tourism.”
An additional 13 awards were presented in a range of categories, which included Best for poverty reduction, Best volunteering organisation, Best in responsible writing and Best accommodation for the environment. Each of the winners and highly commended’s details are outlined below.
Justin Francis, founder of The Responsible Tourism Awards and Managing Director, responsibletravel.com, organisers of the Awards said:
“Right now it’s tough times for business – industries the world over are facing difficult questions from a public who want to know if business can be a force for good. Tourism is no exception, and thankfully our winners are on hand with the answers. Where travellers ask for authenticity, our winners are there with genuine experiences. Where destinations ask ‘what’s in it for me’, our winners share the benefits.”
Amanda Wills, Managing Director, Virgin Holidays, headline sponsor of the Awards said:
“For the fifth year running, Virgin Holidays is honoured to be involved in celebrating the humbling and hugely inspiring winners of these awards. Everyone in the travel industry can and should learn from them and seek ways we can work together to make a meaningful and ongoing commitment to responsible travel. The example set by the winners shows that fairness in travel can be good for us, good for our customers and suppliers, and most of all good for the communities and destinations with which we work.”