Awards showcase sustainable initiatives leading the world in sustainability

Taking sustainability seriously Fregate Island Private, Seychelles

A SMALL beach lodge helping to lift a community out of poverty, a project to regenerate an island’s fragile eco-system, an international hotel company supporting the protection of orangutans, turtles and coral reefs and a national park collaborating with local villagers for wildlife conservation and preservation of 2,000-year-old rock art sites, are among the 12 finalists in the 2011 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards just unveiled by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The awards recognise achievements among businesses and destinations across the full spectrum of the travel and tourism industry.

“Travel and tourism continues to make significant strides in balancing its success with its footprint on the world. After all, our destinations and products rely on the sustainability of our environment and its diverse cultural and natural heritage to provide for our customers and employees, as well as the communities we live and work among,” said David Scowsill, WTTC president  and CEO.

“For many years, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have helped showcase the projects, initiatives and operations that the industry is already undertaking. Our 12 finalists, drawn from 186 entries from over 60 countries, are carrying the flag for sustainable practices in our own and other industries.”

Finalists were selected by an international panel of independent judges led by Costas Christ, an internationally recognised expert on sustainable tourism. In the first stage of a comprehensive three-step process, they selected entries that best demonstrate the protection of natural and cultural heritage, delivering social and economic benefits to local people and engaging in environmentally-friendly operations, as well as other factors.

Unique among such awards, judges will now visit each of the finalists to make in-depth assessments and gain a well-rounded picture of the organisations and businesses in practice.

Highly competitive and a standard bearer in the industry, the awards are given out in four different categories:

Global Tourism Business: Representing international companies with at least 500 employees, entrants’ achievements marry corporate success with sustainable principles and practices. Finalists are: Intrepid Travel, Australia,  Sabre Holdings/Travelocity Global, US and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Hong Kong.

Conservation: Entrants have made a tangible contribution to the preservation of nature, Finalists are: Fregate Island Private, Seychelles, Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe and The Jane Goodall Institute/Budongo Ecotourism Development Project, Uganda.

Community Benefit: Entrants directly benefit local people, supporting community development and enhancing cultural heritage. Finalists are: Agri Tourism Development Corporation, India, Guludo Beach Lodge, Mozambique and Pride in Purpose – Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, South Africa.

Destination Stewardship: Entrants have successfully managed a sustainable tourism programme at the destination level, incorporating social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits as well as multi-stakeholder engagement. Finalists are: Alpine Pearls, Austria, Simangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South Africa and Nurture Lakeland, UK.

“We are seeing a new horizon in the global travel and tourism industry, where more and more companies and destinations, both large and small, are leading the way forward in demonstrating tourism’s opportunity for environmental stewardship and delivering tangible social and economic benefits,” said Christ.

Winners and finalists will be recognised at WTTC’s annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit, held this year at the sustainably-designed and certified Aria Resort in Las Vegas from May 17 to 19.