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The winners in the 2012 Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards programme were announced yesterday.

The programme is organised by the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) in association with the National Department of Tourism and is supported by Absa, the Department of Water Affairs, Eskom, the Industrial Development Corporation and Dont Waste Services.

Imvelo, running for the 11th year, awards tourism businesses that demonstrate sustained responsible practice in their operations in terms of their natural, social and economic environments.

Eddy Khosa, Chairman of FEDHASA said the overall winner, selected from the eight category winners, is Riverside Sun Resort.

The judges applauded the companys overall performance and sustained commitment to responsible practice.

Since 2010, Riverside Sun Resort has undertaken a huge drive to green the property and went from a pending Silver Heritage Rating to Gold in only 12 months. It has retained and improved its Gold status since then, showing a vast improvement in water and energy consumptions. The resort is committed to efficient and appropriate energy use across its operations.

In the category Best social involvement programme the group winner is Sun International Zambia. The independent winner is Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. The judges highly commended So We Too.

Other finalists in the category were African Impact, Amakhala Game Reserve, Maliba Mountain Lodge, Open Africa, Sun International Zambia, Tongabezi Lodge and Tsogo Sun Group.

Entrants were judged on examples of corporate and social responsibility like community investment initiatives, local outsourcing, community health, welfare and education activities, promotion of local SMME enterprises as well as local HIV/Aids and other social programmes

In the category Best practice – economic impact the group winner is Sun International Zambia. The independent winner is Zalala Beach Lodge and Safaris and Calabash Tours was highly commended.

Other finalists in this category are the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Garden Court Polokwane and Riverside Sun Resort.

Entrants were judged on local purchasing and economic practices, employment equity, Black Economic Empowerment, employee training and development of and adherence to general and industry-specific legislation.

The Intercontinental Sandton Towers and Sandton Sun Hotel walked away as the winner in the category Best overall environmental management system.

Other finalists were the Da Vinci Hotel & Suites, the Drakensberg Sun Resort, the Princes Grant Golf Estate & Lodge and the Riverside Sun Resort.

Entries were judged on combined environmental issues including management systems and procedures, conservation activities, social and economic initiatives, communication systems and overall awareness creation.

In the category Best single resource management programme – energy management the winner is the Riverside Sun Resort. City Lodge Hotels was highly commended.

Other finalists are the Beacon Island Resort, Garden Court Hatfield, the Sandton Convention Centre and Sun City Resort

The Riverside Sun Resort is the winner in the category Best single resource management programme – water management. Other finalists are the Beacon Island Resort, the Drakensberg Sun Resort, Garden Court Hatfield, Garden Court Sandton and Kievitskroon.

In the category Best single resource management programme – waste management the winner is the Vineyard Hotel & Spa.

Other finalists are the Drakensberg Sun Resort, Garden Court Hatfield, Riverside Sun Resort, Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company.

In the category Most empowered tourism business the independent winner is White Shark Adventures. The group winner is the Tsogo Sun Group.

Other finalists are Kamogelo Guest House, the Kondowe Game Reserve, the Protea Hotel Bloemfontein and Scan Display.

Entrants were judged on the extent to which they addressed empowerment and contributed to a globally competitive, democratically representative tourism industry.

In the category Investing in people, the independent winner is the Cape Grace Hotel. The group winner is the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

Other finalists are the African Safari Lodge Foundation, Garden Court Blackrock, the Oude Werf Hotel and the Vineyard Hotel & Spa.

Entrants were judged on the practical development of human resources, determined by national minimum standards or guidelines.

The FEDHASA Chairmans Award was made to Mavuso Msimang, Chairperson of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, who is heading up a government project to address the issue of rhino poaching in South Africa.

The Chairmans Award is independent of the other awards and may be made to any organisation or individual making a meaningful contribution to responsible tourism.

Khosa said this years entries were of a very high standard and no less than 234 category entries were received with a total of 39 tourism businesses that made it to the finals.

It is clear that after 11 years Imvelo is certainly making a huge impact on tourism in South Africa, creating significant awareness of environmental management issues in the industry. With tourism being South Africas new gold, Imvelo will continue to create awareness of the potential – but also the responsibility of sustainable tourism.

Imvelo which means nature in South Africas Nguni languages – forms part of an ongoing hospitality industry campaign to encourage industry members to accept voluntary guidelines promoting responsible tourism. The awards are in line with the responsible tourism guidelines for the South African hospitality industry and the UN World Tourism Organisations code of ethics, and are supported by the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.

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