Prof Ernie Heath, from the Department of Tourism Management at the University of Pretoria, was one of the five recipients of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) Alumni Achiever Award for 2012. Every year the NMMU Alumni Association recognizes alumni who have gone the distance and beyond in their specialist field, to the benefit of society at local, provincial, national or international levels. The award was handed over to Prof Heath at a gala ceremony in Port Elizabeth on 25 October 2012.
Since the early 1980’s Prof Heath has passionately been contributing to the sustainable advancement of the tourism industry both nationally and internationally. During South Africa’s transition to democracy in the 1990s, he was Deputy Executive Director of South African Tourism, where, together with an excellent team, he helped champion various successful marketing strategies, including the award-winning Explore SA campaign in 1995. He is also a founding trustee of Open Africa, a social enterprise, which has established more than 60 tourism routes spread across Southern Africa. At the international level he also contributed at various levels, including serving on the Education Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Other awards that he has received for his local and international contributions to the advancement of responsible tourism include the Skål International Presidential Award; the Chairman’s Award from the Indian Ocean Tourism Organization; a United Nations World Tourism Organization Themis Award; recognition as a destination champion by Destination Marketing Association International; a Laureates Award from the University of Pretoria; and a Best Teacher Award from the University of Applied Sciences, Bremen, Germany.