Highlighting responsibility and sustainable tourism
A browse through which travel companies win the green awards
In the week the Climate Change Conference takes place in Paris, it seemed appropriate to take a look at initiatives around the world working to achieve sustainable tourism, or at the very least, to lessen the damage it can cause. There seemed no better way of doing this than to profile the companies winning various sustainability and ecology awards.
Tai O Heritage Hotel has recently received the ‘HICAP 2015 Sustainable Hotel Award – Sustainable Destinations’, the only hotel in Hong Kong presented with this international honour this year.
The HICAP Sustainable Hotel Awards launched in 2007 aims at recognising hotel operators and developers in the Asia-Pacific region who demonstrate exemplary sustainable practices that are environmentally and culturally responsible. The judging panel of the Awards consists of veterans from the areas of sustainability, tourism, environmental innovation and hotel design. In their review on Tai O Heritage Hotel, they commented that it was rare to find a hotel acting as such a catalyst for the rejuvenation of its local community and culture.
Receiving the award, Dr. Daryl Ng JP, Director of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited, said, ‘this accolade is a great encouragement to us and we will continue our efforts in promoting heritage conservation and sustainable tourism at Tai O.’
World Tourism Awards
An eco-resort on the Indonesian Island of Bintan, recognised for its use of a radical Dutch business model, the Polder Model, was named overall winner of the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at World Travel Market London beating 36 other finalists.
Developed in Holland in the 1980s, the ‘Polder Model’ – a collaborative, consensus-based way of working between employers and employees which makes everyone a stakeholder in the business – can be seen coming to life in tourism at LooLa in 2015. By setting up local staff as entrepreneurs, running and managing their own businesses within the workings of the resort, LooLa has increased local incomes by 20-50%, has a zero staff turnover through education and development opportunities and gains excellent customer feedback.
“The judges singled out Loola for its innovative business model which creates shared value from tourism with the local community” says Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel “Each year we look for organisations which will surprise and inspire change, and Loola’s approach, which gives local staff the opportunity to run and own their own businesses within the resort, is not only exemplary but successful; a win-win way of working which leads to increased local incomes and better guest experiences”.
1. Best Animal Welfare Initiative supported by the Born Free Foundation
Gold Winners: Campaign Against Canned Hunting & Hetta Huskies
Judges reasons for winning: The Campaign Against Canned Hunting has been engaging with the tourism industry and is applauded for the considerable success it has had in raising awareness of the commercial exploitation of lions, which are petted as cubs, used as photo props in ‘walking with lions’ experiences then later shot just out of their cages by trophy hunters. The Campaign Against Canned Hunting has found that “once travel agents, tour operators and volunteering agencies know the truth, they quickly discourage clients from visiting such facilities”. Hetta Huskies based in Finland carry some 4,000 clients per year at their husky sled dog farm. The judges recognised both the high standards of sled dog welfare practised in the operation and that, having established a viable business with higher standards, they are now able to campaign for change from within the industry.
2. Best for Beach Tourism Gold Winners: LooLa Adventure Resort and Soneva Fushi
Judges reasons for winning: Two very contrasting winners. A luxury resort with significant success in reducing its carbon footprint, the judges recognise Soneva Fushi in the Maldives for demonstrating what can be achieved, at scale, in improving environmental performance and benefitting local people. By contrast LooLa, an adventure resort in Bintan catering for family and educational groups impressed the judges with its unique business which has resulted in zero staff turnover and local incomes 20-50% higher than they otherwise could be. Rainwater collection systems, green aircon and waste water gardens are all also highly replicable.
3. Best Cultural Heritage Attraction sponsored by Wightlink
Gold Winner: Loop Head Peninsula, Ireland
Judges reasons for winning: On Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Loop Head Peninsula shares local people’s heritage with tourists for the benefit of both, with sites of interest identified through a heritage audit undertaken by local people. The judges were impressed by the bottom up approach using a tourism initiative to encourage a community to discover, own and protect its heritage.
4. Best Destination for Responsible Tourism sponsored by Visit Norway
Gold Winner: Gansbaai, South Africa
Judges reasons for winning: Two hours from Cape Town in the Overberg, Gansbaai is home to a cluster of responsible tourism businesses – and these businesses have come together, cooperating with each other and the local authority to make Gansbaai a better place to live for local people. The judges were impressed by how much more the businesses, have been able to achieve by working together and with local government.
5. Best Accommodation for Disability Access sponsored by Enable Holidays
Gold Winners: Endeavour Safaris and Scandic Hotels
Judges reasons for winning: Running mobile tented safari camps in southern Africa, Endeavour Safaris demonstrate that it is possible to enable people with a wide variety of disabilities to enjoy the same safari experience as their families and friends. With specially-adapted mobile camps, Endeavour Safaris prove that tourism accommodations, even in the wildest of environments, can be enjoyed by nearly all tourists, no matter what their needs.
6. Best for Engaging People & Culture sponsored by Audley Travel
Gold Winner: Urban Adventures
Judges reasons for winning: Part of Intrepid and established in 2009 Urban Adventures offers an alternative to the standard city tour offering the opportunity to visit local neighbourhoods with a passionate, knowledgeable, enthusiastic local guide or friend, not only supporting local entrepreneurs, but empowering them too.
7. Best Hotel for Local Sourcing sponsored by Colorado Tourism Office
Gold Winner: Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge
Judges reasons for winning: Based in Morocco’s Argan Forest near Agadir, the judges were impressed by Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge’s ability to report in detail on its impact on the local economy, with 81% of money spent within a 50km radius, and staff employed from nearby Berber communities. By offering guests local experiences such as cooking and craft classes, and starting up an organic food basket scheme with deliveries in Agadir and neighbouring villages, Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge has successfully developed wide a range of economic activities with the local Berber communities to their mutual advantage.
8. Best Innovation for Carbon Reduction sponsored by Visit Gozo
Gold Winner: TUI UK & Ireland
Judges reasons for winning: Often tour operators are rightly criticised for pushing responsibility for achieving sustainability targets down their supply chain, but TUI have proven to be an exception. Last yearThomson Airways was credited with delivering real carbon reduction targets, and this year the judges recognise TUI UK & Ireland for their holistic approach to reducing carbon consumption in their shops and offices. By working with staff to change behaviour and with investment in new technology TUI UK and Ireland have achieved a 40% reduction in carbon emissions in their offices between 2010 and 2014.
9. Best for Poverty Reduction sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly
Winner: Agri Tourism Development Company
Judges reasons for winning: Recognising that farm incomes in India have become stagnant in recent years, the Agri Tourism Development Company has worked with 750 farmers in 218 locations across the state of Maharashtra to empower them to diversify into tourism, resulting in a 33% increase in income over and above previous levels. These farmers are now offering packages which give families in India’s urban areas the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of activities from animal feeding and farm walks to festivals, folk dancing and music. The judges were impressed by the scale of the programme and the resulting number of small farmers developing supplementary incomes to raise themselves out of poverty.
10. Best Responsible Tourism Blog sponsored by Fair Trade Tourism
Winner: Uncornered Market
Contact: Daniel Noll email@example.com @umarket
Judges reasons for winning: True to their motto ‘driven by curiosity, guided by respect’ Uncornered Market is a blog with a goal to create a movement of respectful travellers. The judges were pleased to see them unafraid to tackle gritty topics in their writing – for example around volunteering or giving gifts to begging children. The blog has inspired other bloggers to extend their travel horizons with its thoughtful, engaging writing and has impressed the judging panel by reaching over 1.2 million people monthly via the blog and social media platforms combined.
11. Best Sea or River Cruise
Gold winner: Ullswater Steamers
Judges reasons for winning: Since 2011 Ullswater Steamers have begun to monitor their performance in reducing water and carbon emissions, and work with other local public transport providers, and the Lake District national park, to encourage people out of cars. They excel at work in the local community and have become an important local employer.
12. Best for Wildlife Conservation sponsored by the Florida Keys & Key West Tourist Development Council
Gold winner: Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education
Based in the southwest of Madagascar, Honko is working with coastal communities to improve livelihoods by restoring and protecting the mangrove environments on which they are dependent. Honko empowers these communities to take charge of their mangrove resources and use them to secure sustainable and resilient livelihoods. The success of Honko as an ecotourism and training organisation is now being used as a model in other mangrove wetland regions, it is a challenge to make mangroves attractive to tourists. Although the ecotourism initiative is small and only part of its strategy, visitor numbers grew 60% between 2013 and 2014.
The People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism in association with National Geographic Traveller (UK) Magazine, sponsored by the Catalan Tourist Board.
Winner: World Animal Protection
Organiser’s comments: Our Awards seek to inspire tourists and the tourism industry alike. This Award reveals which holidays the travelling public find the most inspirational. Last year the judges were impressed with the success of World Animal Protection’s ongoing Compassionate Travel campaign, reaching out to international tourism bodies, tour operators and travellers to bring an end to the unnecessary use of wild animals in tourism. With this Award, World Animal Protection show they have won over the people who can really create change, and that we can all be compassionate in travel.
Green Hotelier Awards
Earlier this year the Green Hotelier of the Year awards were held.
Boutique Hotel Stadthalle, Austria won the Green Hotelier of 2015, Europe.
The judges said it stood out for their recent renovation making this townhouse boutique hotel ‘zero-carbon balanced’. The extension to the original hotel contains 130 square meters of solar panels and a water heat pump, as well as windmills on the roof. The hotel also goes to great lengths when it comes to waste – reducing packaging wherever possible and using partners to upcycle traditionally hard to recycle waste.
Green Hotelier of 2015, Africa and the Middle East
Winner: Hotel Verde, Cape Town
Hotel Verde in Cape Town was a winner for their regionnot only being one of the greenest hotels in Africa , it also has an incredibly strong focus on the wellbeing of staff. Training and development sustains an active in-house sustainability drive and programmes like fulfilling ‘a wish’ for each staff member on the hotel’s first birthday ensure loyalty.
Green Hotelier of 2015, Asia Pacific
Winner: Nikoi Island, Indonesia
Nikoi Island lead by example when it comes to delivering a luxury, island paradise experience in as sustainable a manner as possible. Beside their active management of an impressively low carbon footprint, grey water system and desalination unit, Nikoi plays a fundamental role in supporting the local community.
Special mention goes to: Eaton Hotel, Hong Kong
For being one of the first hotels in Hong Kong to install their own water bottling system, which alongside the introduction of refillable amenities, is saving a total of 850,000pcs of plastic waste each year.
Green Hotelier of 2015, the Americas
Winner: Black Sheep Inn Ecolodge, Ecuador
Black Sheep Inn Ecolodge stood out for Green Hotelier due to their community focused ethos and commitment to showing guests that sustainable practices can be as comfortable as the ‘mainstream’. The inn is 100% community operated and since 1995 has had a huge impact on improving the livelihoods of the local community. Black Sheep’s composting dry toilets are state-of-the-art, featuring in-bathroom gardens fertilised by the toilets’ compost, transparent roofs for natural light, rainwater and wastewater harvesting systems and bleach free toilet paper.
Most sustainable airline – according to Dow Jones Index
AIR FRANCE KLM is the most sustainable airline in the world. In fact, the airline group has been ranked as the most sustainable airline on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for ten years in a row now. With this ranking, AIR FRANCE KLM maintains its position as one of the 24 most sustainable corporations in the world.
Also rated highly was Wyndham Worldwide corporation, Accor and TUI.
The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) is the world’s leading index monitoring the performance of corporations in the area of sustainable development. It lists the most efficient corporations in the field of sustainable development.
Top three most improved industries relative to last year:
Electronic Equipment, Instruments & Components (+23.45%)
Transportation and Transportation Infrastructure (+18.16%)
Top three least improved industries relative to last year:
Life Sciences Tools & Services (-7.71%)
Personal Products (-6.73%)
Oil & Gas (-5.95%)