The clock is ticking for the six finalists of Wild Asias 2010 Responsible Tourism Awards, a competition that celebrates the endeavours of small- and medium-sized hotels and tour operators in Asia for their careful attention to responsible tourism practices.
The Wild Asia team recently paid a visit to PEPY Tours, a truly unique local tour operator and nongovernmental organisation working to improve access to quality education for underprivileged kids in Cambodia. Setting them apart as voluntourism agency is their focus on educational adventures in rural Cambodia; the company organises a range of tours that include everything from service-learning projects and volunteer opportunities at local schools to extended, multi-week cycling tours. Following the road less travelled allows participants to interact and forge friendships with local people, which is exactly what makes PEPY Tours so special.
PEPY – an acronym that stands for “Protect the Earth, Protect Yourself” – was established in 2005 by Daniela Papi and her friends, who traveled to Cambodia and recognized a need to improve the countrys educational system. Moved and inspired by the travel experience, they set out to raise funds to build the first-ever secondary school in Chanleas Dai Commune, approximately 45 minutes by car from Siem Reap. To raise money for the project, they planned subsequent bicycle tours around Cambodia.
Since then, PEPY has evolved from a small informal group into a legal educational development organization with over 30 local staff members working in rural Cambodia to reach children and youth through a variety of education and leadership programs. The goal is to provide them with the opportunity to study, fulfil their dreams and reach their highest potential.
In parallel, the unique characteristic of PEPYs tours lies in the emphasis on hands-on experiences that let travellers get to the heart of how they can make a difference to rural communities and their children. PEPY engages travellers in insightful and thought-provoking activities as a means of demonstrating the social and environmental impact of tourism. The goal is for travellers to leave Cambodia with a transformed view and attitude of how they should live, travel and give.
Contact PEPY Tours to learn more about their bicycle tours, and non-biking educational and experiential activities. For even more responsible travel options in Cambodia made available through expert local connections, visit the whl.travel websites for Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, or indulge in a unique experiential Urban Adventures day tour in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Tune into The Travel Word in the coming weeks to read about the remaining three Responsible Tourism Award finalists from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Winners will be announced on 21 October 2010 during the Responsible Tourism Award ceremony at ITB Asia in Singapore (20–22 October 2010).
Together with the Awards will be a Responsible Tourism Forum and networking session jointly organised by Wild Asia, ITB Asia and The Blue Yonder. Themed ‘CSR in Travel,’ the forum will feature the Award finalists, winners, CSR leaders and green entrepreneurs among others. ‘CSR in Travel’ will cover topics such as tourism and sustainability, greening the supply chain and communicating Responsible Tourism, as well as share Responsible Tourism experiences by successful tourism operators, NGOs and social enterprises working in Asia.