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The Imvelo Responsible Tourism awards were initiated to coincide with the World Summit on Sustainable Development that was held in South Africa in 2002. They recognise tourism and hospitality businesses that make a real, measurable and sustained contribution to Responsible Tourism. To be made for the eleventh time this year, the Imvelo awards have had a huge impact on tourism in South Africa, creating significant awareness of environmental management issues in the industry.

The awards are in line with the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism, the Responsible Tourism guidelines for the South African hospitality industry and the UN World Tourism Organisation’s code of ethics.

Hospitality and tourism establishments or businesses, irrespective of size, can enter any of the following Imvelo award categories:

Best Social Involvement Programme Download Score Sheet
The judges are looking for the business that has made the most effort to ensure the integration of its activities with its local community. Your entry should focus on the extent to which you are involving your community in your business activities and the extent to which your community benefits socially from your business activities.

Best Practice – Economic Impact – Download Score Sheet
The economic impacts of tourism and the effect that your business has on its local community are the focus of this category. The judges need to understand the extent to which your business contributes to the economic benefit of the community and your ability to quantify the impacts that you have on the community.

Best Overall Environmental Management System – Download Score Sheet
This category aims to determine the extent to which you are managing your environmental impacts as a business in a sustainable and responsible manner. The judges are looking for a system that encompasses and integrated approach to environmentally sustainable and responsible business practice.

Best Single Resource Management Programme – Download Score Sheet
Three awards will be made in this category, one each for water management, energy management and waste management. Each category must be entered separately.

Most empowered tourism business – Download Score Sheet
To qualify for this category, your entry should reflect and communicate the extent to which your business has addressed the issues of empowerment and has contributed to a globally competitive, demographically representative tourism industry.

Investing in people award – Download Score Sheet
The need for well trained, educated and developed individuals in the tourism industry is the focus of this award. The judges will consider the extent to which you have taken practical steps to develop the human resource component of your business, specifically the efforts that have been made in excess of any national minimum standards or guidelines.

Responsible Tourism awards for the African hospitality and tourism industries


It’s that time of year again, and you may be considering entering the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards again – or for the first time. Now in its twelfth year, the Imvelo Awards have become southern Africa’s leading and most respected award for environmental responsibility and sustainability in tourism and each year, the judges have a difficult time deciding on the finalists and eventual winners. This process is made that more difficult with the growing number of entries submitted each year and it has become very important for entrants to make their entries stand-out and catch the eyes of judges in order to stand a reasonable chance of being recognised for their efforts. Here are a few tips on how you can make your entry jump-up and say ‘pick-me’ this year.

Choose your category for entry carefully. In some cases, entrants are so keen on entering the awards that they tend to choose the wrong category for their entry. This automatically disadvantages your entry and inevitably leads to its disqualification and rejection in the early stages of the judging process. Read the category description very carefully and ensure that your entry responds to and meets the requirements of that category itself.

Make a clear opening statement. Make an effort to catch the eye of the reader of your entry in the first few lines by providing a summary of what you are entering and why you feel it is a worthy entry for the category concerned. Far too often entrants tend to ‘waffle’ and hide their information halfway down the document, thereby loosing the impact of what they want to say. Be up-front and clear and you will entice the judge to read further.

Keep it relevant. These awards are to recognise responsible tourism practice and environmental stewardship during the preceding year. Often, entrants tend to rest on achievements of years past and they fail to show how the business has managed to maintain or improve its performance in recent times. Keep your entry and information relevant to the past year – using comparative tables or data to illustrate improvement if necessary, and avoid historical claims and performance achievements unless they are absolutely relevant to the entry itself.

Provide measureable data. In order to see how eligible your entry is, the judges need to be able to measure your performance. Whether it is energy use, water consumption or corporate social activities, provide data and facts against which the reader is able to measure your performance. Be specific and wherever possible, compare your performance against the previous year where the entry calls for sustainable performance. Please remember, unless you can show that your performance is sustainable – showing improvement on an annual and consistent basis, are you really practicing sustainability or is your performance a mere ‘flash in the pan’?

Don’t Greenwash. Don’t claim to be ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, environmentally responsible’ or other terms unless you are able to back it up with facts and proof. Often, the entries are completed by people who are removed from the processes and procedures at the business, and they tend to elaborate and ‘colour’ the entry with unsubstantiated claims and terms. Be accurate, truthful and above all, proud of what you are doing. At all costs, don’t try impress the judges with elaborate packaging, designs or addenda. Let your actions and performance speak for your business and avoid puffery and windowdressing – it doesn’t work.

Keep it short. The judges are going to be hard-pressed to deal with the number of entries being received and they really don’t have the time to read through pages of boring and unrelated copy before they reach a decision. Keep your entry to the prescribed number of words as far as possible – and where this is not possible; keep any attachments short and to the point. Many entrants fail to make the finalists stage because the judges have missed the substance of their entry among pages of writing and publicity material.

Submit only what you need. Don’t be tempted to submit addenda and a host of CD’s and other marketing material with your entry unless it is relevant and will support your entry. Wherever possible, include this information in the actual entry and if the judges need more information, they can call for it. Save yourself time and costs by carefully reading the entry requirements.

Remember, sustainability is a journey. You don’t have to be the best in any class. You also don’t need to be an expert in any specific aspect of your environmental performance. What you need is to show that this is a process that your business has embarked on, and the judges need to understand that this is not a PR activity on your part. Help them understand that you understand sustainable business practice.


Remember to attach your entry. Believe it or not, the judges still receive entry forms with no attachments or supporting entries. Check your submission before sending it to Imvelo because after the closing date, if your entry form is not accompanied by the entry itself, it’s too late and you have to wait another year.

  1. Download the entry form – Download Entry FormImvelo Entry Form
  2. Applications should clearly indicate the type of establishment or business and the category / categories being entered.
  3. The entry form should be completed and accompany a written motivation of no more than 1500 words per category.
  4. E-mail entries will be accepted. Should entrants want to include supporting material such as brochures, DVDs or press clippings, entries can be sent by mail or courier.
  5. Entries should reach the organisers by 15 August 2019.
  6. Entries will be returned on request.
  7. The organisers may call for additional information from any Imvelo finalist in order to clarify or verify their submissions.
  8. Closing Date : To be announced