Launched in 2006, the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards are back for 2012 with a new selection of categories to honour innovative businesses that have excelled through the practice of responsible tourism. The 2012 awards are open to hotel businesses across Asia in all shapes and sizes, budgets and locations.
Grounded in the UN World Tourism Organizations’s Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, the awards have helped to shape international standards for environmentally and socially sound tourism. Etienne La’Brooy, General Manager of 2009 winner El Nido Resorts in the Philippines, recalled that the Wild Asia application process “certainly sets the standards for what people should do in our industry.”
Rewarding Responsible Practices
For finalists and winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards, the accolades and recognition validate their businesses’s efforts in responsible tourism. The awards give these enterprises a platform to showcase their achievements in environmental best practices and support for local communities, demonstrating to the world that their businesses care. Working closely with these top contenders, Wild Asia also provides a valuable ‘responsible tourism reporting’ service: an onsite evaluation of a business’s commitment to sustainability and guidance to help move them forward.
“The award is key to helping operators share their information,” says Arnfinn Oines of Six Senses Resorts and Spas. “Responsible Tourism is not something that we should hide. We should share, embrace and congratulate others on the good work that they are doing.”
Showcasing Notable Achievements
With five successful award ceremonies to date, the Responsible Tourism Awards have so far attracted almost 200 businesses across Asia and celebrated 33 finalists and winners. Some inspiring examples of Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award winners follow below.
Andaman Discoveries, Phang Nga, Thailand (2010)
Andaman Discoveries is an ongoing community-driven project that stemmed from tsunami relief. This unique business has implemented over 120 local tourism projects in 12 villages, focusing on human needs and services. Activities such as handicraft workshops, jungle hikes, cooking lessons, island discovery tours and other community-led projects put tourists in direct contact with the locals, thereby promoting a sense of authenticity in the tour experience. Working in close collaboration with the community, Andaman Discoveries practices responsible tourism through leadership building, resource development and skills training.
Sunderbans Jungle Camp, Bali Island, India (2009)
Sunderbans Jungle Camp (SJC) was developed to provide locals with an alternative livelihood to poaching, helping families earn income through programs in responsible tourism. Set on an island surrounded by a vast network of mangroves and waterways, the hotel favours cottages constructed out of local materials, including straw thatch roofs. Developed by destination management specialists at Help Tourism, SJC demonstrates that sustainable tourism with minimal impact on the environment is possible through the engagement and involvement of the local communities.
Grateful for the recognition of winning in 2009, Asit Biswas of Help Tourism/Sunderbans Jungle Camp noted that the award would “motivate all of us in the Help Tourism family to walk extra miles to bring positive changes to the communities and destinations through responsible and sustainable tourism.”
Tree Tops Jungle Lodge, Sri Lanka (2008)
A real ecolodge and jungle experience in the forgotten valley of Weliara, the Tree Tops Jungle Lodge delivers guests to a remote wilderness experience in southeast Sri Lanka. Located within a few kilometres of Yala National Park, the lodge is ideally situated for nature hikes and wildlife watching in an area home to wild elephants, water buffalo and over 200 bird species. Based at the lodge, guests experience living and walking with a team of native, local trackers and naturalists and bed down at night inside tree houses and mud huts that blend with the surrounding virgin forest.
Businesses can now submit their applications, available online at tourism.wildasia.org, until 30 July 2012.
The process is simple: All interested parties should submit the Wild Asia General Application Form, which gives the judges a clear overview of the business. Each applicant can then choose from six categories that best represent what his or her business does best and then submit details on the relevant Category Application Form(s).
The 2012 Award categories are:
• Best in Community Engagement and Development;
• Best in Cultural Preservation;
• Best in Human Resource Management and Workers’ Welfare;
• Best in Protection of Natural Areas and/or Wildlife Conservation;
• Best in Resource Efficiency;
• Overall Winner: Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator
This year’s winners and finalists will be publicly announced at the ITB Asia in Singapore in October 2012. Ground-breaking businesses across Asia can use this famous tourism event as an opportunity to showcase their recognition to thousands of delegates from around the globe.
About Wild Asia and the Responsible Tourism Awards 2012
Wild Asia is legally chartered as a Malaysian company and operates as a “social enterprise,” a business that works for social or environmental missions.
Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative works with businesses to improve their social and environmental practices to meet and exceed global standards. It aims to inspire and create change from within the industry through partnerships with businesses which have an impact on our environment, wildlife, people and communities.