© 2016 Raul Men / Jave Z
South Africa, the southernmost country in Africa, is known the world over for its incredible ethnic and cultural diversity. With over 53 million people, it is the 24th most-populated country in the world, and its governmentally recognized 11 official languages is the highest number for any one country in the world. With people of various sub-saharan ethnicities, European descent, Asian, and all combinations in between, South Africa is truly a nation of nations.
But it just isn’t in its people that South Africa is blessed with great diversity. Its biodiversity is among the greatest on earth, and its best-known animals are among the icons of African wildlife: lions, cheetahs, hippos, leopards, white rhinos, hyenas, elephants, and giraffes can all be found in the bushveld and various other ecosystems of South Africa. There are also several species of plant and animal that can only be found in South Africa, such as the riverine rabbit.
The tourism sector in South Africa draws on its strong diversity both biologically and topographically. Tourists not only come to experience the cities and culture, but also the vast swaths of beautiful beaches, rustic mountains, and of course, the amazing wildlife. Ecotourism refers to the practice of people traveling to experience and observe exotic wildlife and environments, which usually serves to support protection efforts of these precious natural commodities. By attracting tourists, governments are incentivized to preserve habitats for plants and animals, leading to the practice of responsible tourism.
Responsible tourism is an important concept in South Africa, where the industry contributes a large amount of revenue to the economy. It is estimated that over 10% of jobs in the country is supported by tourism. With over 10 million visitors each year, ensuring that the impact of tourism is positive, rather than destructive to natural environments, is essential to creating a sustainable industry. © 2016 Raul Men / Jave Z
One of the exemplary institutions leading the movement for responsible tourism is the Mashovhela Bush Lodge, located on the Morning Sun Nature Reserve in the heart of the Soutpansberg mountains. This far-northern area of South Africa near the border with Zimbabwe encompasses the Vhembe Biosphere, an official UNESCO-designated biosphere with protected status. The Soutpansberg is one of the most biodiverse areas in all of Southern Africa, and the Mashovhela Bush Lodge gives tourists an incredible opportunity to experience this lesser-known treasure first-hand.
Crafted in the traditional Venda building style, the Mashovhela Bush Lodge is completely self-sufficient eco-lodge. It is powered by solar panels, draws water from clean local wells, and recycles waste and reuses materials efficiently. Guest accommodations are lush and comfortable, with rooms decorated with impressive pieces of traditional folk art. Comprised of a main lodge and eight en-suite chalets, the Lodge is the perfect place for a family vacation or group getaway into the exotic and beautiful South African bush.
Undoubtedly the best part of a stay at the lodge is the close contact with nature. The location is perfect for nature enthusiasts of many stripes, including birders, butterfly enthusiasts, nature photographers, and a lot more. For instance, the sacred Mashovhela rock pool of the Venda people is close by, and the weather is always perfect for a romp. Even better, the reserve is situated at such a high elevation that pesky insects such as the malaria mosquito are nowhere to be found.
The Drumbeat restaurant and venue, located on the premises, serves delicious Pan-African cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Here, guests can start their day off with a traditional English breakfast on the veranda overlooking the mountains, and finish the day off with dinner and a cocktail under the stars. It is also an amazing caterer for any of the numerous events that the lodge hosts, including weddings, conferences, meetings, and sustainability workshops.
For its focus on sustainability, its contributions to the local economy, and its valuable highlighting of the local flora, fauna, and Venda vulture, Mashovhela Bush Lodge has been singled-out for the 2016 BID Quality Award, one of the top recognitions for organizational quality. Its mission of supporting the preservation, and sharing the wonders of the Soutpansberg region makes means that many more people will be able to experience it for generations to come.
ABOUT BID AND THE INTERNATIONAL QUALITY SUMMIT AWARD:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.