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World Responsible Tourism Awards

Best Animal Welfare Initiative (joint winners): Hetta Huskies, and Campaign Against Canned Hunting

Supported by Born Free Foundation Hetta Huskies background Hetta is a husky sledding company and farm in Finnish Lapland which, as well as being a national market leader, strives to create responsible husky sledding tourism by lobbying and advising on improved animal welfare at parliamentary and regional levels. Hetta Huskies is a division of Cape Lapland (Finland’s Centre for Arctic and Polar Exploration), an extreme sports and adventure training organisation.

What they do Hetta Huskies works to improve animal welfare standards in the sector. Education among tour operators about veterinary care for the dogs is fundamental to their activities, showing that good care does not have to affect the bottom line. Education within the communities, through schools, farmers’ organisations and

the public sector with a view to ending this practice.

others, is also a key part of their work. At government level, Hetta Huskies advocates for targeted welfare standards within the sled-dog industry, a sector that is pivotal in the regional economy.

Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH) background A South African-based charity, formed at the turn of the millennium by conservationists Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan, the campaign now has teams in 10 countries. It is run by volunteers and aims to create public awareness around canned lion hunting by engaging with tourism operators in the private sector and policy-makers in

Best Cultural Heritage Attraction: Loop Head Peninsula Heritage Trail, Ireland

Sponsored by Wightlink Winner’s background The Loop Head Peninsula brand was created by a network of 47 businesses, now the Loop Head Tourism Network, based on the remote Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare, Ireland. Following extensive heritage training, entitled “Learning from the Landscape”, they created the Loop Head Heritage Trail in 2014, one of many cultural initiatives leading to this community tourism initiative that is now nationally and internationally celebrated.

What they do After Ireland’s community-led Loop Head Tourism network gained a full understanding of their cultural heritage through detailed audit and training, they created the Loop Head Peninsula Heritage Trail – including holy wells, ring forts, standing stones and ancient buildings. This model of partnership between government, local councils and community organisations is now being used in the development of similar trails along Ireland’s most recent coastal trail, the Wild Atlantic Way. As a remote, unpopulated landscape

with wide open expanses of land, Loop Head Tourism has seen the value in protecting and interpreting its cultural

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What they do As well as running public awareness campaigns to end canned hunting, CACH engages with tour operators, airlines and governments to find ways of closing the can permanently. Using research and data rather than emotionally led campaigns, they work to counter the idea that hunting is a form of conservation, and inform stakeholders of the negative impacts of the industry on the environment and local economy, as well as the animal welfare implications.

Following the submission of

proposals to bodies such as Abta and Aito, CACH urges tourism operators not to include lion cub petting and walking with lions in their trips. Such activities, as well as the wildlife volunteering sector, whereby conservationists pay large amounts of money to work with lions on farms unaware that they are subsidising a canned hunting facility, should be banned completely, according to CACH.

Judges’ comments The Campaign Against Canned Hunting ( has significantly raised awareness of ways in which lions are commercially exploited. Judges also recognised Hetta Huskies’ ( high standards of sled-dog welfare and its aims in continuing to campaign for change within the industry.

Best Destination: Gansbaai

heritage – all now visible and accessible to tourists who, until the network’s prolific initiatives, passed by the peninsula and heritage highlights en route to traditional tourism destinations. As well as the Heritage Trail, locally organised festivals such as The Loop Head Walking Festival, Taste the Loop and traditional currach-making courses have not only instilled a local sense of pride, but also led to the creation of one of Ireland’s most successful regional tourism brands.

Judges’ comments The judges were impressed by the bottom-up approach using a tourism initiative to encourage a community to protect its heritage. The Loophead trail has been mapped and integrated with a database of local stories, and a heritage audit conducted by local residents has added 332 previously unrecorded monuments to the heritage sites on the peninsula.

Sponsored by Visit Norway Winner’s background Gansbaai is a town in the Overberg region, Western Cape, South Africa. Once a fishing village, it is now a hub of adventure tourism. In particular, shark-cage diving, which attracts more than 120,000 visitors a year, but also kayaking, land-based whale watching, horse riding, fynbos safaris, and hiking. Management of this destination is led by the Gansbaai Tourism Association.

What they do The Gansbaai Tourism Association has been putting this coastal community and biodiverse natural heritage on the map for the past 20 years. With a small fishing village at its core, the association consists of a strong cluster of Gansbaai tourism businesses, many Fair Trade certified, and all committed to protecting the natural environment, preserving

heritage, improving the quality of life of local people and strengthening the local economy. Exemplary businesses committed to

local botanical (fynbos) conservation include Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, one of the first members of the prestigious Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust founded in 2006 by two association members, Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises, to fund conservation studies into, for example, the African penguin and great white sharks. The trust has also opened the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary for rehabilitation of injured, oiled and diseased seabirds. Gansbaai’s marine preservation ethos also continues out at sea, with whale- watching tour operators strictly obeying responsible whale-watching practices.

Judges’ comments The judges have recognised Gansbaai for the cooperation shown between various different businesses, both with each other and with the local authorities to make Gansbaai a better place to live. Grootbos has been particularly active in social development, while Marine Dynamics has been involved in the welfare of penguins and seabirds.

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