Winning projects from Australia, USA, Honduras and Thailand
ALL 12 finalists of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2008 are among the world's leading examples of sustainable responsible tourism practices according to the international committee of experts led by Costas Christ, chairman of the judges for the awards.
“The 2008 finalists represent the very best examples among a great pool of exceptional award applicants who are part of the global transformation of tourism now underway,' he said.
Costas and his team selected the finalists from 150 applications from more than 40 countries within the travel industry. This year’s winners were: Blackstone Valley, USA for the Destination Award, Ecotourism Australia for the Conservation Award, Rare / La Ruta Moskitia, Honduras for the Investor in People Award and Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Thailand & Global for the Global Tourism Business Award.
'We are entering a historic moment in modern travel, as sustainable tourism practices are embraced by a growing number of businesses and destinations around the world. There is also an increasing awareness among travelers who still want the vacation of lifetime, but in a way that helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our planet.
“The sustainable tourism bar is now being raised by innovative companies that are setting a higher standard for best practice and demonstrating that it can be done. The question is no longer, does sustainable tourism work - we are witnessing that it does - but rather just how far we can take it. The 2008 Tourism for Tomorrow Award winners are helping to chart the way forward,' said Costas Christ.
Winners and finalists were honoured at a gala dinner of the Global Travel & Tourism Summit on April 21, 2008 in Dubai.
“On behalf of all WTTC members we are proud to announce this year's finalists and applaud their shared vision for sustainable tourism development. It is also a great honour to work with such a prestigious, independent judging panel,' said president of the council Jean-Claude Baumgarten.
About the winners
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council has since 1985 been a force behind the rebirth of the Blackstone River Valley, Rhode Island USA. The council adopted an integrated, community centered, resilient approach to tourism development, helping to transform a polluted, spiritless landscape and river into an emerging visitor destination. Residents have regained a sense of pride in their home and banded together to ensure the future protection of the Blackstone Valley in order for all to appreciate the Birthplace of America's Industrial Revolution.
By developing a tourism system in the Blackstone Valley, the council has united a community; awakening it to its potential and the need to preserve the natural, cultural and historical features of its physical surroundings and become a visitor destination.
Ecotourism Australia was formed in 1991 as a non-profit organisation based in Brisbane and since then it has significantly contributed to long term environmental sustainability through its ECO Certification Programme. It is a world first programme for the ecotourism industry that accredits tourism products, assuring that they are backed by a commitment to best practice in ecological sustainability, natural area management and the provision of quality ecotourism experiences. It is comprised of nature base, ecotourism and advanced ecotourism levels.
In addition, The EcoGuide Australia Certification Programme provides an industry credential to nature and ecotour guides that achieve specified competencies and standards.
Rare / La Ruta Moskitia, Honduras: Within the largest remaining tract of rainforest in Central America lies a remote region of Honduras known as La Moskitia or the Mosquito Coast. For centuries, the expansive forest, wetlands, and rich indigenous groups of La Moskitia have intrigued adventure seekers and explorers.
Modern day explorers now visit this unique region with La Ruta Moskitia; an alliance of five indigenous ecotourism destinations. The Alliance offers a menu of multi day tours that feature bird watching, jungle trekking, and authentic cultural exchange. Clients travel in motorised dugout canoes, and stay in comfortable community owned eco lodges and palm-thatched cabaٌas.
The formation of La Ruta Moskitia was part of an effort to link ecotourism and biodiversity protection in the Rio Plلtano Biosphere Reserve - a two million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in La Moskitia. The Alliance has created 150 local jobs, supports more that 750 immediate family members, and links 98per cent of tour costs and revenue to indigenous communities.
Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Thailand & Global: Established in 1995, Six Senses Resorts & Spas is a resort and spa management and development company, which manages luxury resorts and spas in the Maldives, Oman, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain and Fiji under the brand names Soneva, Six Senses Hideaway, Six Senses Latitude and Evason, plus Six Senses Spas and Six Senses Destination Spas. Six Senses currently operates 10 resorts, with five more to open in 2008, in addition to 20 Six Senses Spas, and employs a total of 3,000 hosts.
Sustainability is integrated into all aspects of the business in a way that covers the full spectrum of corporate social responsibility, from integration with core operations to responsible philanthropy deeply ingrained in the company’s core purpose: to create innovative and enriching experiences in a sustainable environment.
About the finalists
Rinjani Trek Ecotourism Programme, Lombok, Indonesia: This venture was createdin 1999 to strengthen conservation and to ensure that communities on the boundary of the National Park benefited from tourism revenues. Community run cooperatives coordinate the trek at the Rinjani Trek Centre in Senaru and the Rinjani Information Centre in Sembalun Lawang. Each has roster systems for guides and porters, village tour activities and handicraft sales. Revenue from tourism activities and entry fees is used for conservation, training, management and assisting the National Park with maintenance of the Rinjani Trek, thus working towards sustainability.
Bouctouche, Canada, was a typical coastal Maritime village with a diminishing rural economy until two tourism investments began its evolution to the vibrant community it is today. In 1991, Le Pays de la Sagouine brought to life the renowned literary figure “Sagouine” - the creation of a Bouctouche author - giving voice to the unique dialect and culture of 16th century Acadia. In 1996, Bouctouche Bay Eco-Tourism channelled the community’s energy and enthusiasm towards saving a rare natural dune system for future generations.
Bouctouche is characterised by traditional landmarks, businesses demonstrating cultural sensitivity, green areas and its cultural jewel, Le Pays de la Sagouine.
Grootbos Nature Reserve, South Africa, with its two five star lodges and luxury accommodation, is situated on the fynbos and forest clad hills overlooking the whale watching area of Walker Bay. Grootbos has carved a unique niche in the upmarket eco-lodge sector by specialising in the Cape region of South Africa’s flora and marine biodiversity.
This 1750 ha reserve is home to more than 740 different species of plants. The Cape fynbos is renowned as a flora biodiversity hotspot and for more than a decade Grootbos has promoted its beauty, interpreted its intricate stories, researched some of its many secrets and developed a number of projects focused on conserving this region of exceptional natural beauty.
The Turtle Conservation Project (TCP), Sri Lanka was established in 1993 as a non governmental organisation with a vision to establish a “ Sustainable level for sea turtle populations in Sri Lanka”. It conducts research, surveys, education and awareness programmes as well as community based conservation and management programmes to achieve a sustainable level of sea turtle populations in Sri Lanka. It works closely with agencies including the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka Tourist Board and Coast Conservation Department, providing valuable information in order to help them in prudent decision making, policy development and strategic planning.
TCP employs ex turtle egg poachers as turtle nest protectors at the Rekawa and Kosgoda beaches where community based in-situ turtle nest protection and research programmes are run.
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) is a non-profit initiative that promotes equitable and sustainable tourism, through raising awareness and initiating the world’s first tourism Fair Trade certification scheme. FTTSA awards a special label to tourism establishments that invest in people and the environment and are impacting positively on staff, communities and local economies. To date, 30 establishments have qualified for the label including hotels, guest houses, safari lodges, cultural tours and eco adventure activities.
FTTSA certification adds value to tourism business by linking products to markets and has a feedback process which helps businesses improve human resource development, workplace culture, community investment and other aspects of their operations. Certification directly and indirectly benefits staff, suppliers, communities, guests and the environment.
Rainforest Expeditions / Posadas Amazonas, Peru. The Ese´eja Ecotourism Project that led to Posada Amazonas, is an initiative set up to demonstrate that a tourism joint venture between business and a local community is not just successful means of empowering that local community and conserving natural resources; it is also sound business practice.
The lodge is owned by the community and co-managed by Rainforest Expeditions. In return for its stake in the lodge, the community receives 60 per cent of the profits. Decision-making is by consensus. Other fundamental concepts include training community members to occupy all lodge positions. The full management of the lodge itself will pass to the local community in 2016.
Scandic Hotels Sweden & Global. Scandic, headquartered in Stockholm, is one of the largest hotel operators in Europe with 139 properties, making it the leading hotel chain in the Nordic area.
In 1993 Scandic started its sustainability programme advancing to best practice in economically, ecologically and socio-culturally sound decision making and day-to-day operations. Scandic’s vision is based on a balanced approach between sustainable business and consideration for all stakeholders. Its activities in reducing carbon emissions on all levels of business operations is paramount. A strong focus on health and accessibility to healthy, good living is the driving factor behind Scandic’s efforts.
Serena Hotels And Lodges, Kenya & Global. Serena has anchored environmental protection as an important element of its quality standards since 1990. At Serena, contributing to guests’ holiday satisfaction means fundamental dedication to environmental best practice which in turn, provides Serena with a number of competitive advantages: economic benefits through avoiding wasteful behaviour and saving money on water and energy usage; ecological benefits by preserving the pristine surroundings of Serena Hotels and Lodges; local community benefits arising out of employing 90 per cent of its workforce locally, and through building lasting relationships with local suppliers of foods and handicrafts which in turn, provides the youth with a career objective in their home communities.