Singapore, 19 October 2012. After a year's absence, WildAsia returned once again to stage the Responsible Tourism Awards, the region's top green honours that hoteliers and tour operators aspire towards. The winners of their 2012 Responsible Tourism Awards were announced at ITB Asia held in Singapore. This year, there were four specific award categories ranging from community engagement, culture preservation, nature conservation to resource efficiency, plus one generic category for the "most inspiring" responsible operator. Finalists had to demonstrate excellence in various areas of sustainability and, of course, responsible tourism practices. They were assessed based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria.
Here are the results of Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards 2012:
Best in Community Engagement and Development
This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which the business operates.
Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Cambodia (WINNER)
As the first employee-owned hotel in Cambodia, Soria Moria works closely with various local charities and organizations on a grassroots level, and facilitates vocational training and a higher education program to empower locals.
“I am extremely happy and very very proud of the whole Soria Moria Team for everything we have achieved. I would like to extend our sincere Thank you, Awkun Ch’ran, Tusen Takk to you and the entire Wild Asia Team and all the judges for this recognition. It’s a real honor for us” - Kristin Holdo Hansen, Founder and Sustainability Adviser
Agri Tourism, India (Finalist) www.agritourism.in
Best in Cultural Preservation
This award recognizes engagement and efforts by tourism businesses in preserving, enhancing and promoting local cultures and heritage.
Agri Tourism, India (WINNER)
Agri Tourism is successfully reconnecting urban Indians to their rural roots. Their mission to diversify farms by introducing tourism is benefitting local livelihoods and keeping farming heritage alive. By providing exciting opportunities for sustainable secondary income, this project is preventing urban migration and protecting traditional village life.
“We are delighted to know that Wild Asia has selected Agri Tourism India as the winner of the 2012 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award for culture preservation category…Thank you for keeping faith in our organization while we are implementing the responsible tourism code of conduct at the destinations across Agri Tourism centres in the state of Maharashtra , India” -- Pandurang Taware, Director
Heritance Tea Factory, Sri Lanka (Finalist) www.heritancehotels.com/teafactory
Best in Protection of Natural Areas and/or Wildlife Conservation
This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.
Scuba Junkie, Malaysia (WINNER)
Scuba Junkie, based on Mabul Island off the east coast of Sabah, the company strives to be sensitive and have a positive effect on this unique area. Introducing the first rubbish collection scheme on the island, they’re improving waste management and protecting their natural assets. They also run a Turtle Hatchery and are championing the Semporna Shark Sanctuary, in order to help save our seas.
"We are extremely proud...it is amazingly humbling when the efforts are recognized giving them more worldwide understanding, and the people involved more motivation to continue and develop with a sense that they are making a difference"
- Rohan Perkins, Environmental Officer
Banjaar Tola, India (Finalist) www.tajsafaris.com/our_lodges/banjaar_tola/default.php
Best in Resource Efficiency
This award recognizes excellence in waste, water and energy management and sustainable architectural design in order to minimize the business’s environmental impact.
ITC Sonar, India (WINNER)
Backed by a huge range of environmental management accreditations, 5 star ITC Sonar is a leading light in renewable energy and resource efficiency. It is nestled amidst acres of land, resplendent with greenery, sunshine, and water. It was the first hotel in the world to earn carbon credits under the carbon trading scheme.
“The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards reinforces ITC's commitment to its triple bottom line objectives that encompass the economic, social and environmental dimension. We thank Wild Asia for acknowledging ITC Sonar for its commitment and efforts”
- Mr. Zubin S. Songadwala, General Manager
Our Native Village, India (Finalist)
2012 Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator
This award recognizes the tourism business that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring responsible tourism business of the year.
LooLa Adventure Resort, Indonesia (WINNER)
LooLa is an outdoor-enthusiast resort in Bintan, Indonesia. Since 2000, with a 100% local team, they offer exciting (eco) action, adventure and community-based activities, all in a natural beautiful setting that favours sea breeze over air-con. Guests are asked to go easy on water and electricity, return to the basic joys of life and enjoy the authentic local scene.
“Being a finalist already provided a massive boost in staff interest and participation, and being the winner will see motivation fly through the roof! To be recognised with all these outstanding operators from around Asia means I can visit our staff and show them: "You guys did it: our village is competing at the world stage!" For motivation, really, it doesn't get much better than that!”
-Marc Van Loo, Director
Gaia Discovery congratulates all the 2012 Winners and Finalists for their achievement and dedication to providing tourism that is making a difference to destinations across Asia. For more information about the Awards or the 2012 Finalists, please visit tourism.wildasia.org
Photographs courtesy of Wild Asia.