Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom (left), Ruth Crichton of Grootbos, Beverley Schäfer, Western Cape MEC of Economic Development and Tourism, Tim Harris of Wesgro and Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa, attended the World Travel Market Africa expo in Cape Town last week. Grootbos was announced the overall winner in the African Responsible Tourism Awards.

The Cape Whale Coast lived up to its name as one of the premier holiday destinations in the country at the World Travel Market Africa (WTMA) held last week in Cape Town.

Not only was Grootbos Nature Reserve named as the overall winner in the African Responsible Tourism Awards on the first day of the show, but a significant and exciting new Western Cape tourism route was launched on day two that shines the spotlight on two of the Whale Coast’s heritage sites.

The brand-new Cradle of Human Culture route takes tourists to the most significant Western Cape archaeological and paleontological heritage sites, including two Cape Whale Coast heritage sites – Phillipskop Mountain Reserve outside Stanford and the Klipgat Cave at De Kelders.

“Grootbos was recognised for the substantial growth in its conservation impact and for its continuous efforts across all economic, social and environmental agendas. These include their Football Foundation, which provides positive role models and a safe space for local youth. It reaches 9 000 youth each year and provides daily sports coaching in hockey, athletics, soccer, netball and canoeing,” said Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa.  

“They were also recognised for their work in female empowerment, environmental education, food for sport, grassroots soccer and HIV/Aids and water safety programmes. In addition, Grootbos’s Green Futures vocational training college and Siyakhula, the social enterprise arm of the Grootbos Foundation, run an organic farm coupled to a career and entrepreneurship programme.”

According to Cape Whale Coast Tourism Manager, Frieda Lloyd, the award recognises responsible tourism leaders and the judges recognised the substantial advances made by Grootbos with its conservation work.

“The commitment made by this Gansbaai-based private nature reserve to positive economic, social and environmental impact contributes to the sustainable growth of tourism.  Grootbos is a gem in the basket of tourism offerings in our region and deserves the acknowledgement that comes with the achievement of winning the African Responsible Tourism Award.”  

The Cradle of Human Culture route is a partnership with the Cradle of Humankind – the fossil hominid site in Gauteng, which is already a World Heritage Site. The Cradle of Humankind showcases the biological development that led to the appearance of Homo Sapiens while the Cradle of Human Culture captures the behavioural development of Homo Sapiens.

“The route along the Southern Cape Coast which includes the Cape Whale Coast sites has temporarily been named ‘The Coastal Journey’ since we find the first evidence of the consistent use of marine resources along this route. All the sites along this coastline speak about the relationship between humans and the sea,” said Frieda.  

“The launch of the Cradle of Human Culture is of particular significance as 55.9% of the more than 1.7 million visitors arriving in the Western Cape in 2017 identified Culture and Heritage as an activity that they wish to engage in, making this the sixth ranked tourism activity in the Western Cape, ahead of eating out, entertainment and shopping.”

According to Frieda, another Cape Whale Coast tourism company, Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary outside Stanford, took Silver in the category Best Responsible Attraction. “Harold Goodwin, chair of the judging panel, has spent time in the Overstrand to interview the people behind the businesses to ensure that their ethos extends beyond the realisation of profits. The awards aim to inspire change and celebrate those who take action to elevate tourism,” she said.

The colourful ChillGuru sightseeing bus was quite the hit as the travel industry is always looking out for new developments that offer something fresh on their itineraries.


“We look forward to the benefits associated with the African Responsible Tourism Awards and the new Cradle of Human Culture.  We understand that hard work has gone into these developments and thank those involved for making our destination a better place to live and therefore a better place to visit,” said Lloyd.


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