Leaders in tourism innovation unveiled in World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 finalists

Leaders in tourism innovation unveiled in World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 finalists

Responsible Travel has today announced the 13 finalists in the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London sponsored by the Belize, with a strong focus on innovation reasserting the Awards’ position as the leading scheme for responsible tourism in the world.

Included among a particularly innovative list this year is one of India’s largest hotel  chains making the employment of people with disabilities and socially excluded groups a core part of its business model; a tour operator democratising tourism by pioneering the ‘Buy one, Give one’ concept in travel; one of the world’s most iconic hotels with a successful program to rescue, rehabilitate and re-release adult sea turtles; and a tourism business offering migrant-led city tours to foster greater understanding between locals, tourists and migrant groups.

The 13 finalists now need to wait until the Awards ceremony at World Travel Market in London to discover who will be crowned the 2016 overall winner.

Commenting on the standard of the finalists, Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says “This year we have an incredibly strong field of contenders.

“Over the past few months each of these organisations has been subject to intense scrutiny by a panel of judges combining some of the leading minds in responsible tourism, conservation and development in the country. They have come through the most rigorous and competitive judging processes for an Awards scheme of this kind and have emerged as international leaders in their respective fields.”

Dr Dilys Roe, a principle researcher at the sustainable development think-tank the International Institute for Environment and Development joined the judging panel this year bringing expertise in biodiversity and pro-poor conservation. With a background in tourism research stretching 20+ years she is uniquely placed to observe how far responsible tourism has come over the last two decades.

“I haven’t worked in tourism specifically since the early 2000’s – focussing on conservation instead. Coming back into it now I am surprised and impressed by how far things in responsible tourism have really moved on.

“Here we are, a mainstream awards at a mainstream travel trade event and we have amazing applicants who aren’t even in the running, whereas 16 years ago it was difficult to make anything happen in sustainable tourism. This is a real leap forward”.

Justin Francis, founder of the World Responsible Tourism Awards and CEO of organisers Responsible Travel echoes this view of progress.  “In the early years of the Awards we saw the same people coming back year on year – now every judging day we have things we don’t know about, in sectors of the tourism industry we haven’t seen before, in places we haven’t seen before.

“This year we have seen levels of innovation that have surpassed our expectations, led by some truly entrepreneurial businesses. These are organisations which are using tourism as a counter to contemporary social problems, or translating ideas from other social businesses into the travel sector – they are pushing the boundaries of what responsible business can achieve”.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday 8th November 2016 at a ceremony at World Travel Market London, where over 500 tourism professionals, tourism ministers and media representatives are expected to attend.

WTM London, Senior Exhibition Director, and fellow judge Simon Press says “Once again the World Responsible Tourism Awards will be a key part of the opening of World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM London. The stories of the winners and their achievements will be even more poignant this year as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world.”

This year the World Responsible Tourism Awards are sponsored by Belize. Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism comments on the finalists “We are extremely proud to be backing these thirteen incredible organisations. It’s incredibly inspiring to see the calibre and variety of sustainable and responsible tourism outfits across the world. As we move forward with the next stage of our sustainable tourism plan here in Belize, we hope that their stories will in turn inspire businesses in our country, as well as in other parts of the world, to invest in, and achieve more through sustainable tourism.”

The full list of 2016 finalists:

!Xaus Lodge, South Africa

Burj Al Arab Aquarium, United Arab Emirates

Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Resort, South Africa

East African Safari & Touring Company, Tanzania

Elevate Destinations, USA

Friends International – Childsafe Movement, Cambodia

Lemon Tree Hotels, India

Misool Eco Lodge, Indonesia

Sam Veasna Centre, Cambodia

Sapa O’Chau, Vietnam
Tren Ecuador, Ecuador

Viaggi Solidali, Italy

World Cetacean Alliance

About the World Responsible Tourism Awards

For more information on the World Responsible Tourism Awards visit www.worldresponsibletourismawards.com. Now in their 13th year, the World Responsible Tourism Awards were founded in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism.

The Awards are organised by Responsible Travel and ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism). The Awards ceremony is hosted by World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, during World Responsible Tourism Day, the world’s largest event for responsible tourism which this year takes place on Tuesday 8th November.

This year, the Awards feature 5 categories covering a variety of topics, which reflect the hottest issues currently debated in the world or responsible and sustainable tourism. Tourism businesses and organisations around the world submit themselves for consideration by a panel of independent, expert judges chaired by Professor Harold Goodwin.

Follow Awards news and updates on Twitter: @RTAwards or #WRTA2016 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/responsibletourismawards where you can also find stories from our previous international winners.

About Responsible Travel

At Responsible Travel we help travellers live their dreams through authentic and life-enriching adventures, ensuring local people and wildlife benefit and being a catalyst for change in the industry.

Responsible Travel is now the world’s largest platform for ethical tour providers (with a rigorous screening process in place to ensure each company fits the guidelines to be represented on the site). The company is growing by 30% each year with its profits dependent on an ‘Honesty Box’ where tour providers voluntarily declare their commission.

– The holiday collection includes tours from almost 400 small, specialist and ethical tour operators

– The collective operates in 190+ countries

– In 15 years, the company has helped over 100,000 people live their travel dreams and received over 1million holiday enquiries.

Alongside the holidays it markets, Responsible Travel has two other core programmes to drive positive change in the tourism industry:

Activism – campaigning for more responsible types of tourism worldwide.

– The World Responsible Tourism Awards (founded by us in 2004)  – celebrating and recognising the businesses around the world, big or small, innovating and leading the way in responsible tourism.

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism.

About the Belize Tourism Board

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is a statutory body within the Belize Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and it is governed by a Board of Directors appointed Tourism  Industry  Association  and  Belize  National  Tour  Operators  Association and is  dedicated  to  building  tourism  in  the  most  economically  and environmentally  sustainable  manner.

As  a  part  of  its  responsibilities,  the  BTB  promotes  Belize  as  a  premier  tourism destination  to  both  in country  and international consumers.  Among its outreach to the international travel market, the BTB markets the country’s unique attractions to travellers, members of the travel trade industry and media outlets in key markets. The  BTB  is  also  dedicated  to  developing  and  implementing  tourism  programs  that  will  help  strengthen  and  grow  the  Belizean  tourism  industry;  promote  good destination  stewardship;  and  instil  high quality  standards  for  accommodations  and  travel experiences. For more information  on  the  BTB  and  its  services,  visit www.travelbelize.org

About World Travel Market London

World Travel Market London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

WTM London, now in its 37th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM 2016 will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts. World Travel Market London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s WTM portfolio, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa.  www.wtmworld.com

World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

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