Three companies and one destination, from four continents, have been recognized for their best practices in sustainable tourism at this year's World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
The four winners were selected from 12 award finalists and announced onstage during the opening ceremony of the WTTC Global Summit in Tokyo, Japan, on April 17.
The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are among the highest accolades in the Travel & Tourism industry, and recognize companies, organizations, and destinations around the world which showcase outstanding sustainable tourism achievements. They are the only global sustainable tourism awards that include on-site evaluation inspections of all finalists, conducted by a team of expert international judges.
The 2012 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards winners hail from South America, North America, Europe, and Asia. These diverse set of winners emerged as victors over 150 entries from more than 60 countries.
The winners are:
Community Benefit Award - Saunders Hotel Group, USA:
This local family-owned hotel group has been a leader in sustainable tourism practices as far back as the early 1980s, when they converted an old police building in Boston, Massachusetts, into an historic hotel and worked with local community partners to build affordable housing in the same area. Through initiatives that are driven and supported by all levels of their staff, the group supports dozens of local charity and non-profit groups with a combination of financial backing, volunteer time, and in-kind resources that goes far beyond most corporate social responsibility efforts. For Saunders, community service begins at âhome,â where helping people in need is part of the company mission, recognizing that disadvantaged communities can also exist in a major city in the United States.
Conservation Award - Inkaterra, Peru:
This hotel boasts long-term conservation stewardship of 38,000 acres of rainforest in the Amazon basin and 25 acres of cloud forest within the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Founded in 1975, Inkaterra has grown into a renowned biodiversity research and conservation tourism company operating five hotels in the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and the Madre de Dios area of the Amazon rainforest. As well as a 100 percent carbon neutral hotel stay for every guest, Inkaterra has continued to implement a host of self-supported, sustainable tourism projects to facilitate a better understanding among tourists and local peoples about the need to protect fragile habitats in the Andes and the Amazon of Peru, which is home to 84 of the world's 104 identified ecological life zones.
Destination Stewardship Award - Destination RĂžros, Norway:
Their successful multi-stakeholder approach to creating a thriving sustainable tourism destination in the old mining town of RĂžros, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an example for many to follow. Since the end of mining in the late 1970s, Destination RĂžros has been instrumental in reversing the area's environmental degradation, guided by a management plan that actively engages and builds cooperation among local communities, municipal authorities, and private-sector stakeholders. Emphasis is placed on demonstrating that historical cultural sites, and formerly degraded natural areas can be revitalized and utilized in new contexts through sustainable development, thereby bringing tangible economic benefits to the local people. Destination RĂžros is also a pilot project for Norway's country-wide Sustainable Tourism Initiative.
Global Tourism Business Award - Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, headquartered in Singapore:
They have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and creating tourism value recognition among stakeholders to support the protection of diverse natural and cultural heritage in worldwide destinations ranging from Mexico to China. Banyan Tree works through a three-pillar strategy: enhancing efficiency in environmental operations, conserving natural heritage and biodiversity, and social and economic empowerment of local people in the countries and regions where they operate. In addition to strong sustainable tourism practices, Banyan Tree has also fully integrated sustainability monitoring and evaluation across the company including its annual reports, in addition to issuing annual stand-alone sustainability performance reports that document projects, successes, and challenges. They have successfully done this for more than a decade, while also being one of the first global hospitality companies in the world to ban the sale of shark's fin in all of their hotels in 2006.
David Scowsill, President and CEO, WTTC, said: âThe awards have been under WTTC's stewardship for the last nine years. Since then, they have grown in caliber and reach, but the premise is the same: to give international recognition to outstanding examples of sustainable practices, from travel and tourism businesses across the globe.â
David continued: âAll finalists and winners are inspiring cases of businesses providing sustainable solutions to real world problems. These actions espouse the ethos of âTourism for Tomorrow,' and demonstrate true leadership in the industry.'
Commenting on their achievements, Costas Christ, Chairman of Judges, WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, noted: âSustainable tourism principles are no longer solely the realm of a handful of well-meaning companies. Today, sustainability itself has emerged on the global stage as a new indicator of tourism quality, alongside traditional quality standards such as excellent guest services or a room with a view. What this means is that a measure of a company or tourism destination's success, is now increasingly tied to their quality of sustainable tourism best practice. This is not a passing trend, but rather a positive and needed evolution of the tourism industry. The winners of this year's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards exemplify how tourism, when planned and managed well, can be a tremendous opportunity to help safeguard our planet and deliver tangible benefits to local people.â
The Tourism for Tomorrow winners underwent a rigorous four-step judging process by more than 20 independent judges from around the world, led by Costas Christ, a globally-recognized expert in sustainable tourism.
The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are organized in association with Travelport and the Travel Corporation's Conservation Foundation.
For further information about the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and the judging process, please visit: www.tourismfortomorrow.com .
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