Sustainable tourism businesses celebrated at WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

awardsBusinesses and destinations that are leading the way in sustainable tourism have been recognised at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi.The Awards – being held at the Emirates Palace Hotel as part of the WTTC 13th Global Summit – showcase and celebrate Travel & Tourism businesses and destinations around the world, who are successfully balancing people, planet and profits.

The four 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Award winners are:

Destination Stewardship Award winner: Peaks of the Balkans – Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro
Following conflict and civil war, representatives from the countries of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro united to create the Peaks of the Balkans transnational hiking trail, with the goal of opening both minds and borders. The initiative provides a framework for recovery, in an area once driven by conflict, by preserving the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage of the region as well as restoring mutual trust, collaboration, safety, and economic opportunities. Peaks of the Balkans offers training, capacity building and support for the development of tourism micro-enterprises, as well as facilitating trans-border movement for visitors. The Peaks of the Balkans project demonstrates the power of the collective cross-border efforts of three countries to promote destination stewardship as part of the broader Balkans Peace Park Project.

Community Benefit Award winner: Ten Knots Development Corporation/El Nido Resorts, Philippines
El Nido Resorts plays a vital role in community development – 90% of all staff – including senior level positions – are from the local area. It actively supports staff development and the creation of community enterprises. Examples include micro-finance support to employees who now own and manage recycling facilities, provide boat transfers and excursions and produce a diversity of fresh, local farm products, among other businesses.

In addition to providing wages and benefits to employees that go beyond national requirements, training and education is emphasized, including a BeGREEN course for all staff, promoting environmental best practices. El Nido Resorts also purposefully educates guests on how their vacation can be good for the planet and local people. It has always believed in partnership with local communities, demonstrating the power of tourism to address poverty alleviation, improve local livelihoods and protect cultural and natural heritage for future generations.

Conservation Award winner: Beyond, South Africa
Beyond’s conservation efforts have been at the core of its company mission for nearly three decades, starting at Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa, where they restored degraded farmland habitat and successfully re-introduced rhino, along with lion, cheetah and elephant, among other endangered species. Today, Phinda’s rhino population is among the healthiest in Africa and &Beyond has donated six white rhino to the Okavango Delta to boost population numbers there. At Mnemba Island in Zanzibar, &Beyond created new breeding grounds for highly endangered antelope and their populations have now tripled. In India, &Beyond carried out a ground-breaking wildlife relocation of 50 Gaur (Indian bison) in collaboration with the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, aimed at stopping their local extinction in Bandhavgarh National Park. These efforts are accompanied by scientific research and carried out in partnership with conservation organizations and universities, demonstrating the power of successful private-public partnership through tourism for protecting rare wildlife.

Global Tourism Business Award winner: Air New Zealand

Over the past eight years, Air New Zealand has achieved a 15% reduction in carbon emissions during a period when its business was also growing. Among other things, this impressive level of carbon reductions was achieved by investing in a more fuel efficient fleet, as well as improved operating practices such as reducing aircraft weight through the installation of de-humidifiers which remove 400 kg of water weight from an aircraft, using optimal routes, and enabling glide paths. They have also been active in supporting the development of sustainable aviation biofuel resources, and working with aircraft engine design companies to achieve greater environmental efficiencies. All of their ground fleet is run on biodiesel and 3,500 staff participate in the company’s Green Teams. Air New Zealand is also committed to the protection of New Zealand’s natural heritage, working in partnership with the Department for Conservation on conservation and tourism initiatives and providing air transport for the relocation of threatened species.

 David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, says: “As the Travel & Tourism industry plans for the next 1 billion international travellers crossing country borders each year, it’s essential the growth is facilitated responsibly and sustainably, without destroying the planet in the process. These four awardees are shining examples of how businesses can balance people, the planet and profits effectively. It’s important to celebrate those businesses that are seizing the opportunity and to learn from them, if we are to have a sustainable industry in the future”.

Costas Christ, Chairman of the Judges, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, adds: “This year’s winners join a growing list of exemplary organisations, destinations, and businesses  from around the world that are on the front lines of demonstrating that doing well and doing good is not only possible, but represents the future of business success in an emerging and greener global economy. They have shown that embracing sustainable tourism principles and practices is not a part time activity, but a fundamental responsibility of the Travel & Tourism industry to both current and future generations on this finite and fragile planet we all share.”

Industry, national and world leaders – from chairmen and chief executives to presidents and government ministers – have come together in Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow (9-10 April) for the WTTC Global Summit to discuss the industry’s moral and commercial obligations as it plans for the growth in demand from International travel, particularly from the 2 billion new middle class consumers emerging from burgeoning economies like China and India. The title of this year’s Summit is ‘A Time for Leadership.

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