The World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are one of the world’s highest accolades in the Travel and Tourism industry, aimed at recognising best practice in sustainable tourism worldwide. In light of our growing concern about natural and cultural resources, these Awards are particularly important as they promote the industry leaders in responsible tourism, highlighting the prime examples of best practice. 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. This year’s winners were announced on 19th April 2012 and the winners of the four categories 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 and disadvantaged communities with a combination of financial backing, volunteer time, and in-kind resources that goes far beyond most corporate social responsibility efforts.
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% 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 both tourists and local people 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 Røros, Norway: This company’s successful multi-stakeholder approach to creating a thriving sustainable tourism destination in the old mining town of Røros, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an example for many to follow. Since the end of mining in the late 1970’s, Destination Røros has been instrumental in reversing the area’s environmental degradation, guided by a management plan that actively engages and builds co-operation 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 revitalised and utilised in new contexts through sustainable development, thereby bringing tangible economic benefits to the local people. Destination Røros is also a pilot project for Norway’s country-wide Sustainable Tourism Initiative.
Global Tourism Business Award – Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts: Banyan Tree’s 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. 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 & CEO of the WTTC, said: “All finalists and winners are inspiring cases of businesses providing sustainable solutions to real world problems. These actions espouse the ethos of Tourism for Tomorrow, and demonstrate true leadership in the industry”.