Singapore, October 21, 2010 – Wild Asia announces the winners for the 5th Responsible Tourism Awards 2010 from Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka at ITB Asia.
After months of short-listing the finalists and making site visits to the final six properties and tour operators, Wild Asia’s judging panel has finally selected its 2010 RT Awards winners.
Operators such as Heritance Kandalama (Sri Lanka), Sarinbuana Ecolodge (Indonesia), and Andaman Discoveries (Thailand) have surpassed judges’ expectations by scoring high against the Awards checklist and are this year’s award winners for the following categories of accommodation operators respectively – large; mid-sized to small; and tour operators.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards are part of Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative to promote sustainable practices through tourism. With one billion tourists expected to hit the road by 2010, the tourism industry’s impact on environment and communities throughout the world is immense. This is where the RT Awards come in. The Awards showcase exemplary resorts, hotels and tour operator ventures that are committed to sustainable practices.
“The purpose of the Awards is not to give out ‘gold stars’ to candidates each year. Our intent is to share the best practices of responsible operators to a broader audience and seek out new operators engaging in innovative programmes,” says Dr Reza Azmi, Wild Asia founder and director.
This year’s awards attracted a larger and more diverse number of participants spanning all across the Asian region, from places such as India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, all the way to China, Philippines, and even Irian Jaya in Indonesia.
“We received a selection of high quality checklists and this proves to show that the network and awareness of RT is building up. Travel operators from around the region are truly striving to make a difference for a better and greener future,” says Deborah Chan, Wild Asia’s Programme Manager.
Every year the WA judging panel reviews submitted checklists (based on the UNWTO Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria) from operators throughout Asia. Two finalists for each category are shortlisted based on some of the following criteria:
• Sense of place – whether tourists understand their destinations in terms of the cultural
and ecological context better through the operators’ efforts.
• Sustainability – whether these RT efforts are long-term.
• Involvement of guests – how much does the operators involve their guests in their RT practices?
• Internalisation – how much is sustainability part of the day-to-day operations?
• Reach – how far are these ideas and practices shared across the destination or even the
• Continual Improvement – how do the operators strive to improve their RT efforts?
Understanding and internalising the essence of responsible tourism, these operators are catalysts for positive change within their sphere of influence, inspiring others to embark on the green journey while at the same time, still affording customers with the memorable holiday experience the travel for in the first place.
Mr. Jeevaka Weerakone, general manager of Heritance Kandalama noted that “it is a great honour to receive the Awards and will continually raise the game in making Heritance Kandalama an example in Sri Lanka and to the world, at the same time a learning center for responsible tourism.”
Norm vant Hoff, owner of Sarinbuana Ecolodge, the winner of the small to mid-sized to small accommodation category expressed that, “winning the Awards has helped us increase our profile thereby bringing in more conscious travelers and increasing revenue streams for the local community.” Wild Asia would like to congratulate winners and finalists for their commendable efforts and commitment in achieving high standards of environmental protection and social responsibility that form the critical pillars of their business philosophy.
Wild Asia’s 2010 Responsible Tourism Awards Winners:
Heritance Kandalama, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Heritance Kandalama has a unique architectural design which blends the hotel into the natural surroundings and maximizes natural light in order to reduce energy use. The entire hotel is built on a raised platform allowing water to flow under the hotel.
It also allows the free flow of wildlife under the hotel, leaving minimum impact on the eco system.
Situated in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle’s heartland, Heritance Kandalama is flanked by two UNESCO world heritage sites – the 1st Century BC Dambulla Cave Temple and the 5th Century AD Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel is surrounded by rocky outcrops, lush forests, and overlooks the glistening Kandalama Tank. This sanctuary is teeming with biodiversity and wildlife.
For avid bird lovers and take morning walks for bird watching or visit an ancient village, Puranagama to have lunch with the locals and experience authentic village life. For more exquisite taste to your palettes, try traditional Sri Lankan dining in a cave or at an organic farm.
Sarinbuana Ecolodge, Bali, Indonesia.
Nestled in the rainforest of Mount Batukaru, in the northwest region of Bali, Sarinbuana Ecolodge offers a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist track, and a refreshing experience that most people do not feel when visiting this island. Sarinbuana Ecolodge, which was started ten years ago, is run by Linda and Norm vant Hoff and their extended Balinese family. The eco lodge demonstrates a clear and committed practice of responsible tourism in every aspect of its operation.
Although a small lodge, with only 4 villas, Sarinbuana Ecolodge has had an enormous positive impact on the local village. Since the arrival to the Sarinbuana village, the vant Hoff family has dedicated themselves to improving local livelihoods, establishing a good relationship with the community, and learning the local language and culture in order to truly integrate with the local community.
At Sarinbuana Ecolodge, one can embrace the cool mountain breezes, lush tropical rainforests, rich Balinese culture, and appreciate life at its purest. The eco lodge operates in a truly holistic manner, exemplifies sustainability environmentally, economically and socially, and provides comfortable and pristine surroundings for true peace of mind.
Andaman Discoveries, Phang Nga, Thailand
Andaman Discoveries (AD) previously known as North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR) stemmed from tsunami relief pioneered by Bodhi Garrett to serve communities he had lived with and respected. After the initial rebuilding of homes through community driven tsunami relief, it soon progressed into long-term post tsunami development programs. Participatory workshops and community meetings sparked the idea of potential tourism as a means of economic renewal. Villagers wanted to welcome tourists in a way that will not bring negative and harmful impacts like that of mass tourism.
The idea was to maximize and utilize local knowledge and local people as a means of tourism.
Villagers return empowered to set up home-stays and design a holiday experience for guests.
Now, guests can choose from six villages to stay in – mostly fishermen communities.
Accommodation is simple and clean often with a fan, mattress and mosquito net for a good night rest. Guests are assigned to different host families whom they will spend their time with. Often times, guests leave with great memories of relationships being made. Some even stay to volunteer.
Wild Asia’s 2010 Responsible Tourism Award finalists:
• Large Accommodation Operators
Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa, Malaysia
• Mid-sized to Small Accommodation Operators
Soneva Gili, Maldives
• Tour Operators
Pepy Tours, Cambodia
For more information:
About Wild Asia, the RT Awards and Responsible Tourism or for high resolution photos of the
winners contact: RT@wildasia.org or visit www.wildasia.org
Also, check out our blog at www.wartanews.blogspot.com
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