You might wonder what an African country and the largest conservation charity in the UK have in common. At this time of the year, there are tourism awards that are given out and both have received a pretty similar award.
The World Travel & Tourism Council, (WTTC) is a body that you may not have come across. It is a forum for 100 of the top business leaders in travel and tourism across the world. They have just announced what they call their Tourism for Tomorrow Awards which reward sustainable tourism. The destination that has won this year’s Destination Stewardship Award is Botswana for the way that it treats tourism in the Okavango Delta. This area of Botswana has the largest inland wetland in the world. To protect it the government does not allow mass tourism. High charges are made at the government-owned camps, only one airline is allowed to fly there and fares are not cheap. In this way, the fragile ecosystem is protected.
As the Botswanans protect their natural heritage, the National Trust protects our-often manmade- heritage. In the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards that were given last week, the Trust was rewarded for an outstanding contribution to tourism and in particular for the guardianship of things in Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, a world heritage site, is probably the most known asset that the Trust looks after in Northern Ireland and this month, work starts on the restoration of the headland. A new visitor center is also due to be started on shortly. Unlike Botswana, charges are moderate. Like Botswana, it is the protection of the landscape that is the important thing.
These weren’t the only winners. WTTC also gave the conservation award to emirates Hotels in the UAE, a community benefit award to the New Zealand Whale Watch Kaikoura and global tourism business award to Accor. Some of the other awards in Northern Ireland went to last year’s Belfast Maritime Festival which was judged the best event and the Lime Tree Restaurant in Limavady won the Taste of Northern Ireland Award.