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2012 Mandela University Alumni Achiever Award recipient, Prof Ernie Heath, has been acknowledged with the prestigious Africa Tourism Leadership Award at the recent Africa Tourism Leadership Forum in Botswana. 

The award recognizes his outstanding dedication to Tourism Education and Development in Africa spanning over four decades.


The Africa Tourism Leadership Awards, a distinctive honour in the continent, serve as a platform to celebrate and acknowledge change-makers and innovators who have significantly impacted African travel, tourism, hospitality, and aviation industries.

Prof Ernie Heath's illustrious career has been marked by a series of accolades, demonstrating his commitment to the global development of responsible tourism. Notably, he received a United Nations World Tourism Organization Themis Award for his contributions to research, education, and training in tourism. Heath's influence extends beyond borders, as reflected in his receipt of a Skål International Presidential Award for his role in advancing tourism in South Africa and the Chairman’s Award of Merit from the Indian Ocean Tourism Organization.

Among his many accomplishments, Heath was recognized as a Destination Champion by Destinations International and was a key figure in establishing Open Africa, a social enterprise fostering tourism routes across Southern Africa.

His academic contributions have also been widely commended, with awards such as the Laureates Award from the University of Pretoria for Innovation in Teaching and a Best PhD Supervisor Award at the Advances in Tourism Marketing Conference in Slovenia. Heath’s leadership and pioneering role were evident during his 16-year tenure as the head of the Department of Tourism Management at the University of Pretoria.

Reflecting on the recent accolade, Heath shared, “Receiving this recognition at this stage of my life was rather unexpected, yet a pleasant surprise and very humbling. I feel very privileged to have had an enriching and fulfilling journey of more than four decades in various spheres of the very exciting and dynamically changing tourism industry.”

Even after retiring in 2016, Prof Ernie Heath remains an active contributor to the tourism sphere, particularly in his home province, the Eastern Cape. His unwavering passion for advancing responsible tourism in Africa showcases his belief that the industry has the power to make a positive difference in the lives of people across the continent.

In the words of Heath himself, "In tourism, not one of us is as good as all of us, and every one of us can make a difference." As he continues to leave an indelible mark on the tourism landscape, Prof Ernie Heath stands as a true inspiration for future generations in the field.