The V&A Waterfront clinched the global award at the highly contested World Responsible Tourism awards held in London on Monday, 1 November 2021. The Waterfront is one of a handful of winners of the overall Global Award (award levels go from One to Watch, Silver, Gold then Global).

The awards, which forms part of the World Responsible Tourism Day celebrations, aims to recognise destinations that most strongly “educate, inspire and challenge others to spread good practice”. 

The V&A’s Award was given in recognition of the Waterfront’s efforts to sustaining employees and communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.  In the category judges looked at the work done by businesses and organisations in the travel and tourism sector to sustain their employees and the communities in which they operate. The aim of this category is to recognise and draw attention to those who successfully helped others, employees and neighbours alike to weather the Covid-19 storm.

Speaking about the award, V&A Waterfront CEO David Green said, “From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we knew we had a responsibility to support the many individuals and households who depend on us for their livelihood, particularly the micro enterprises such as our tour operators as well as the crafts and design stores at our Watershed market. Our effort was to ease their financial burden beyond rent relief while we also pushed ahead with projects that would create new markets and jobs such as our Makers Landing space and our Joy from Africa to the World festive décor campaign. 

“It is a great honour to be recognised for what we have done. An Award of this stature is a significant win not just for the Waterfront, but for Cape Town and for our entire tourism industry as it proves that we can hold our own against the best innovative and trendsetting destinations in the world. The timing of the Award could not have been better as it coincides with international tourism beginning to open up. We hope it attracts international travellers back to our city.”

In 2014, the Waterfront won the World Responsible Tourism Award for Best Destination for Responsible Tourism. 2022 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, to which the Waterfront was a signatory.

Nominations for the awards came from clients, the public or partners.

According to WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor Harold Goodwin, “Every year remarkable new responsible businesses and destinations are discovered and recognised through the Awards. We have had an excellent response to the Awards this year — with some inspiring, innovative and scalable solutions to the challenge of sustainability. There are many destinations and businesses around the world taking responsibility and making a difference and the ambition of the Global Responsible Tourism Awards is to encourage businesses to learn from the leaders and to be inspired to do what they can to make tourism better — better for our environment and local communities.”

A WTM Responsible Tourism’s Platform for Change is currently being developed to show businesses and destinations the proven solutions which have been tried and tested.

About the WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards

V&A Waterfront Sustains tenants and communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic:

During the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 Covid-19 relief was prioritized with a specific focus on tourism effected micro-enterprises.  We secured funding from Department of Economic Development and Tourism to support SMME’s in the Craft & Design sector.  

  • Provided temporary relief to all 160 individuals on the Buskers programme through grant funding and food parcels. 
  • Our Makers Landing food entrepreneur incubator program, launched in December 2020, has supported 84 new jobs, 17 small anchor businesses and 8 incubate businesses. 
  • Ocean Hub Africa (accelerating African ocean-minded start-ups) launched in March 2020 and has completed its first cohort of businesses coming through the acceleration programme. 
  • To support job retention amongst our SMMEs we raised working capital to support 49 businesses, totalling R2.52 million.  This supported 208 permanent and 111 temporary jobs and provided access to cash flow analysis and support. 
  • During the named period we hosted 15 webinars focussing on E-commerce, Export, Digital Marketing, Financing etc.
  • We further provided R20 million in rental relief to 270 tenants and launched an SMME Portal giving them access to information and resources such as grant funding and financial support tools – so far it has been accessed by 1301 unique users, with a dwell time of just under 5 minutes.
  • At our SMME Helpdesk, tenants and suppliers could request dedicated support such as tax and HR support and mentorship – so far, assistance has been provided to 116 businesses.
  • We employed a total of 14 youths from The Homestead programme for street children though our Covid Safety Protocol Programme (volunteers who assist on the ground to ensure that visitor’s safety during the pandemic) and Joy from Africa (our Festive Season Campaign).
  • We partnered with our restaurants and other ecosystem role players, distributing meals to impoverished communities throughout the Cape Peninsula. The V&A launch a campaign called Heart of Filling the Belly where the V&A donated a set amount to the campaign for every restaurant meal that visitors bought. We invested R1.3 million into Food Security during this period.
  • Through our festive season campaign Joy from Africa to The World we invested R1.5 million in 134 local crafters from 13 SMME community projects across Africa to create our festive season décor. The programme empowers talented local artists from disadvantaged communities create traditional African décor from recycled and locally sourced materials. 70% of the SMMEs are women owned.  The overall project spans over 3 years (2019 to 2021) to which the V&A contributed R18 million.

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There is no one way to explore all of the Cape Town Big 6, and much of what makes each of them so special is the variety of things to see and do at each. So if possible, take your time to explore each of the city’s most visited tourist attractions in as much depth as possible – as any local will tell you, you can spend a lifetime at each of the Big 6 and still not tire of them. Find the 3 and 4 day itineraries and tips here.