Lilongwe Wildlife Centre beat thousands of hopeful entrants to win the international Responsible Tourism Award as the organisation deemed “Best for Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats”. The awards are the only one of their kind in the world, organised by BBC, Virgin Holidays and World Travel Market.
It is the first Responsible Tourism Award won by any organisation in Malawi, and the support provided by the Ministry of Tourism was praised by the judges. The awards ceremony was held in London, England, this week and the Hon. Daniel Liwimbe, Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, was honoured to accept the award on the Wildlife Centre’s behalf.
The judges were impressed with the groundbreaking project model, which is now being used as a standard for other wildlife facilities around the world. Not only has it shown how a visitor centre can still flourish without resorting to zoo-like facilities but it has also secured the future protection of an endangered urban wilderness reserve, home to abundant wildlife, by showing its value to the local communities.
Kate Moore, Marketing Manager for Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, said “This Award gives the project a huge stamp of approval from some of the biggest players in tourism and conservation. It shows that tourism can be used as a force for good – all the profits from our visitors are invested back into our conservation and education projects. Moreover it shows that successful tourism ventures can be accessible to everyone, and not just the preserve of the rich. Our beautiful reserve is affordable and accessible enough to welcome over 17,000 Malawian visitors every year, many of which are school children and many of whom will never have the chance to see their own country’s national parks. So thanks to both the visitors who have helped to make us a success, and of course to the Ministry of Tourism for their unwavering support.”