Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists to be announced in Brazil

Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador are among the finalist

ONE of the major events taking place this month at the 9th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Florianópolis, Brazil from May 15 to 16 will be the announcment of the four finalists in the 2009 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
Twelve finalists were selected by an international team of independent judges in four award categories all finalists having successfully demonstrated sustainable tourism best practices. ‘Best practises’ includes the protection of natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people, and environmentally friendly operations.
The award scheme has been under the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) stewardship since 2003. The 12 finalists are, in the destination stewardship category: Grupo Puntacana, Dominican Republic, a group of companies helping an impoverished region; Heritage Watch, Cambodia, an NGO protecting Cambodian cultural heritage; and South West Tourism, UK, a regional tourism board.
In the conservation category: Ionian Eco Villagers, Greece; Lane Cove River Tourist Park, Australia, the only national tourist park worldwide within close proximity of a major urban area; and NatureAir, Costa Rica, a domestic airline.
In the community benefit category: Community Action Treks, Nepal, a tour operator organising trekking tours; Ol Donyo Wuas, Kenya, an eco-lodge; and the Zakoura Foundation for Micro Credits, Morocco, an organisation fighting poverty.
In the global tourism business category: GAP Adventures, Canada & Global, a Canadian based adventure tour operator; Marriott International Inc, USA & Global, a worldwide hospitality company with a holistic approach to sustainable management; and Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador, a fully Ecuadorian company contributing to sustainability.
The conservation award (as an example) is open to any tourism business, organisation or attraction, including lodges, hotels or tour operators, able to demonstrate that their tourism operations have made a definite contribution to the conservation of natural heritage. This could include wildlife protection, expansion or restoration of natural habitat, and supporting biodiversity conservation.
One of the finalists for the conservation award was Ionian Eco Villagers in Greece. This small tour operator and its not-for-profit organisation partner, Earth, Sea & Sky, has been leading the action taken in the conservation of threatened sea turtle nesting beaches on Zakynthos Island in Greece, where 80 per cent of the Mediterranean region’s loggerhead sea turtles come to lay their eggs each year.
The group has successfully lobbied the Greek government and the European Union to enforce a ban on tourism development on the turtle nesting beaches.  At the same time, Ionian Eco Villagers provides a unique holiday experience through conservation, eco-friendly activities, education and immersion in local culture.