North Island, Seychelles has taken home a Gold Award in the ‘Best for Marine Habitat and Species Conservation’ category at the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards (ARTA).
“North Island is honoured to have been recognised for its marine conservation work, an essential part of our ongoing Noah’s Ark island rehabilitation programme. This year we are celebrating 21 years of sustainable tourism, so this prestigious award holds even more importance to us at this significant milestone in our history”, said Bruce Simpson, North Island’s Managing Director. The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the World Responsible Tourism Awards Programme.
The winners were announced at a special ceremony on 18 April 2018 sponsored by Wesgro at World Travel Market (WTM) Africa in Cape Town. Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel said, “As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards the judges looked for winners who might educate and inspire others, challenging the industry to achieve more by demonstrating what can be done by businesses and organisations to realise the ambition of Responsible Tourism”. The judges were impressed by the success of this luxury resort in increasing the nesting populations of sea turtles and its ambition to become a declared Ecological Marine Reserve.
In pursuit of which, biannual scientific marine surveys to quantify the diversity and abundance of marine life have been conducted since 2011 and supported by continuous reef monitoring carried out by resident Environmentalists and ecotourism volunteers on a daily basis, as well as by the Dive Centre and guests who wish to get involved. Protection of the four coastal beaches on North Island has safeguarded the nesting sites for two species of sea turtles, the Critically-Endangered Hawksbill Turtle and the Endangered Green Turtle. The Island has been monitoring turtles since 1998 with systematic data collection since 2004 and has seen the number of Hawksbills utilising the island double, together with a remarkable 6-fold increase in the number of Green Turtles.
North Island is now known to have the highest density of nesting Green Turtles of the inner islands of the Seychelles. Bruce Simpson says, “North Island proves that luxury with a conscience is possible. North Island’s most significant achievement has been to create a safe haven for endangered species whilst simultaneously creating the world’s most exclusive private-island hideaway.
The Island acknowledges its role as a leader in sustainable luxury tourism and endeavours to set an example for other islands in the Seychelles, showing how conservation and tourism can merge for the protection of an area and the species it houses. As purpose becomes the new luxury, other resorts around the world will look to those pushing the envelope of sustainable travel.” North Island has been dedicated to island conservation, both above and below water, since it turned over a new leaf in history when it was purchased in 1997 by Wilderness Safaris with the goal of returning the Island to its former natural glory.
Wilderness Safaris scooped the coveted Overall Winner position at the 2018 ARTA awards ceremony, in addition to receiving a Gold ARTA for its transparent reporting against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a Silver ARTA for its innovation in water management.