Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter January 2016
WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards announces 2016 Finalists
We've just announced the 15 Finalists for our 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. The 15 Finalists - in the five categories of Community, Destination, Environment, Innovation and People - were chosen after a rigorous judging process, narrowing down from the original entries, which came from 62 countries.
The Finalists for this year's WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are:
Community Award Finalists, whose organisations are committed to sustainable tourism leadership in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage: Expediciones Sierra Norte, Pueblos Mancomunados (Mexico), Sapa O'Chau (Vietnam) and Yayasan Ekowisata Indonesia (Indonesia).
Destination Award Finalists, who show commitment to supporting and delivering sustainable tourism best practices in their destinations: Parkstad Limburg (Netherlands), Swiss Parks Network (Switzerland) and V&A Waterfront (South Africa).
Environment Award Finalists, whose organisations and companies achieved environmental best practice through biodiversity conservation, protection of natural habitats, addressing climate change, and green operations: Alcatraz Cruises (USA), Lindblad Expeditions (USA and worldwide) and Wilderness Safaris (South Africa / Botswana).
Innovation Award Finalists, who provided innovative solutions to overcoming the challenges faced by Travel & Tourism in implementing sustainability in practice: ANVR (the Netherlands), Northsailing (Iceland) and joint project by PWC, Travel Foundation & TUI Group (United Kingdom).
People Award Finalists, who are dedicated to the development of capacity building, training and education to build a skilled tourism workforce for the future: Jus' Sail (Saint Lucia), Kinyei International (Cambodia) and Youth Career Initiative (United Kingdom).
Following the first phase of the three stage judging process all applications have now been carefully evaluated by a committee of independent expert judges against established sustainable tourism criteria, which include community development, preservation of cultural and natural heritage, and innovative solutions for sustainable practices. The second phase will see on-site evaluation of each Finalist by international sustainable tourism experts, assessing the organisations and the business practices they have highlighted in their application. Following the evaluations the winners of each category will be chosen by a further panel of leading authorities in sustainability. The Winner Selection Committee is chaired by Fiona Jeffery OBE, Chair of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and includes, Darrell Wade, Co-Founder and CEO, Intrepid Group; Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization; and Stephanie Draper, Deputy Chief Executive, Forum for the Future.
"This year’s finalists reflect the importance of knowledge in creating a more sustainable tourism industry," said Awards Lead Judge, Graham Miller, Professor of Sustainability in Business and Head of School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, The University of Surrey. "We have organisations who have created carbon calculators, methods of measuring impacts, developed new technology and really thought outside the traditional confines of the sector. There is still no shortage of passion and determination to drive forward sustainability, but working smarter through networks, partnerships and high level thinking mark the future for sustainable tourism."
The overall winners in each category will be announced during the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Ceremony at the 16th WTTC Global Summit in Dallas, Texas on the 7th of April.
Read more about Tourism for Tomorrow Finalists 2016 here.
Community Development is Heart of Tourism Success
Over the coming three months, we'll be profiling the finalists for all the awards in the lead up to our summit this April. First, the three finalists for our community awards, which recognising those organisations we consider most committed to sustainable tourism leadership in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage
Expediciones Sierra Norte, Mexico
The cloud-wrapped forests of the Sierra Norte, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, are one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, with a staggering 2,000 plant species found there. This natural wealth is also a storehouse of indigenous knowledge for traditional healers from the local communities. For the last 22 years the community-based ecotourism project Expediciones Sierra Norte has been working to both preserve that knowledge and share it with the growing number of people who visit this region, by establishing more than 100 km of routes through the forest, all following the ancient trails and paths that connected the communities in the past. So successful has it been that while just 20 tourists stayed overnight in 1995, now that number is around 17,000 tourists per year.
Sapa O'Chau, Vietnam
Launched in 2007, Sapa O’Chau is committed to harnessing the rapid growth in tourism in the Sapa region of northern Vietnam to support sustainable development for the Hmong, Dao and other minority peoples that live there. The company runs its own boarding facility, supports 11 homestays and employs 30 trekking guides. In 2013, it became Vietnam's first minority-owned tour operator to gain an international license and it remains the only one operating in Sapa. Its focus on a thoroughly holistic approach, from local education through to traveller experience, means Sapa O’Chau is truly enabling visitors to gain the most authentic experience of this region, while providing a sustainable income to an ever growing number of minority peoples, and helping them maintain their cultural identity in changing times.
Yayasan Ekowisata, Indonesia
The remote Indonesian village of Waerebo provides an idyllic mountain setting for its seven traditional thatched 'Mbaru Niang' houses. Local NGO Indecon has worked with the village's residents to develop community based tourism, so that guests come from all over the world to stay here and enjoy trips such as “A Journey of a Cup of Coffee”. In 2008 Waerebo saw 155 tourists, and was struggling to survive. In the first 10 months of 2014, it welcomed 2,100.
It's just one story from Indecon's 20 years spent promoting ecotourism across the islands of Indonesia. Whether helping locals address environmental degradation due to illegal logging or turning around the loss of heritage, the organisation has enabled many local communities to maintain their sense of place by preserving their culture and sharing it with foreign visitors.
DESTINATION FOCUS: Sustainable tourism in Netherlands, Switzerland and South Africa
The Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Award is given to towns, cities, regions or countries that show commitment to supporting and delivering sustainable tourism best practices in their destinations. The finalists for 2016 are:
By the end of the 20th century, the neighbouring regions of Hill Country and Parkstad in the Netherlands’ Limburg province were both marked by economic decline. However, for the last 15 years the two have combined on a programme of developing Parkstad - a former coal mining district - as a wet weather tourism destination. The idea is that by providing a complement to Hill Country's summer charms, they might turn the pair into a success story of sustainable year-round tourism. It's worked, as 15 years after the scheme began in a region with no income from tourism, Parkstad's turnover in 2015 was € 368 million (ca. $US400million), and now provides 5,800 full time jobs.
Swiss Parks Network
Since 2008, some 19 new parks and park candidates have been created in Switzerland, designed to protect some of the country's best landscapes and to promote sustainable tourism within them. Now covering some 15% of the country's landmass, together they form the Swiss Parks Network. Significantly, the parks were not formed as the result of top down government initiatives. Instead, local residents worked together to develop a project that would demonstrate the viability of creating each park, which was then submitted to a popular vote among those living there. Because this meant the local population believed in them, once established these parks have become a source of great civic pride and opportunity.
V&A Waterfront, South Africa
It's hard to walk around Cape Town's V&A Waterfront and not be struck by the sense of optimism and renewal. Over the past 9 years, what was once an industrialised brownfield site has been decontaminated, and reinvigorated to become a mecca of independent shops, restaurants and hotels, while still supporting a marina, local fishing industry and residential developments. According to an independent economic impact assessment, in 2014 alone it contributed an estimated R33.4 billion (US$3.34 billion) to the country's GDP. And all this has been done with the backdrop of Table Mountain everywhere you look. It's no wonder it is South Africa's most popular tourist destination, with 24 million people visiting each year.
UN declares 2017 year of sustainable tourism for development
The United Nations General Assembly has approved the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The resolution, adopted on 4 December, recognizes “the importance of international tourism, and particularly of the designation of an international year of sustainable tourism for development, in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”.
“The declaration by the UN of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. The decision follows the recognition by global leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that “well-designed and well-managed tourism” can contribute to the three dimensions of sustainable development, to job creation and to trade.
INTERVIEW with Ruan Samarasinghe from Jetwing Hotels
In 2014, Sri Lankan hotel company Jetwing won the environment category in our Tourism for Tomorrow Awards for its luxury lodge at Vil Uyana. We spoke with the company's Managing Director, Ruan Samarasinghe, about developments since then.
WTTC: Much has changed in Sri Lanka over the past few years. What role does tourism have to play in helping the country reconcile and move forward positively?
Ruan Samarasinghe: Much has changed, indeed – after the end of the war, we’ve grown immensely in terms of infrastructure development, progress, etc. Sri Lanka is a land that is naturally blessed for tourism, as we cater to all elements of a memorable stay. Be it beaches, wildlife, religion, culture, this country has much to offer the world and today, we are finally on a level playing field with our competition. Currently, we as an industry are making use of these advantages and moving forward together – tourism doesn’t just bring people to the country, it brings the people in the country together. The feeling that Sri Lanka is our land, and our visitors are coming to our home, is a powerful one. After all, we are known around the world for the warmth of our hospitality and our smiles. The investment tourism brings further benefits local communities, and that too helps us progress.
WTTC: How has your business developed as a result of the changes in your country?
Ruan Samarasinghe: We’ve been in the industry now for over four decades, thanks to the vision of our late Chairman Herbert Cooray. He recognized opportunity, and he foresaw the importance of being prepared – during the times of war, we are one of the few companies that didn’t just survive – we renovated, expanded, and opened new properties without letting a single employee go. Today, we are opening new resorts in Wellawaya, Jaffna, Colombo, Dambulla, Arugam Bay, Passikudah, etc, and in each we look after the local communities. It is them that we help through tourism, and it is they that act as a representative of each destination. Our suppliers, our employees are primarily gathered from these communities, and through the award winning Jetwing Youth Development Project we have helped talented youth forge careers in hospitality.
WTTC: Any exciting sustainability initiatives you are developing now or in near future?
Ruan Samarasinghe: Several projects are proposed to be carried out across the board in the near future.In the area of onsite renewable energy generation, for example, Net-metered Solar PV systems are being introduced or expanded at all properties to offset the ‘day time’ electricity demand to the maximum possible level. And in any properties with large cooling demands, we'll also be replacing all existing conventional chillers with Vapour Absorption Chillers. Elsewhere, we're working on effective solid waste management, by introducing bio gas digesters (where the benefit is twofold - treatment of organic waste while generating renewable energy). And finally we are installing water bottling plants in strategic locations to produce bottled drinking water to meet our hotels’ requirement using glass bottles (which can be reused rather than disposable plastic bottles).
INNOVATION FOCUS - WTTC launches online tool to understand Global Environmental Reporting Legislation
WTTC had launched an online tool designed to helps companies in any industry or sector understand the laws and regulations by country and stock exchanges relating to the reporting of Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) issues. Based on WTTC’s “Environmental, Social & Governance reporting in Travel & Tourism: Trends, Outlook and Guidance” report, the tool allows companies to see the specific legislation or regulation on ESG reporting by country linked to the year of in which such rules were introduced.
“The WTTC online tool shows the legislation and regulation in place in any country and stock exchange around the world governing ESG issues," explained David Scowsill, President & CEO WTTC. "Whilst as a sector we continue to look to improve our sustainable practices and the legislation on ESG reporting, the tool allows organisations to communicate with and engage stakeholders. The onus is on all companies in all industries to report their environmental impact, this tool helps them understand where they need to act.”
Rainforest Alliance celebrates 15 Years promoting sustainable tourism
In 2000, the Rainforest Alliance set out to help transform the tourism industry, which employs more than 235 million people worldwide and generates 9.2 percent of the global GDP — and which can do irreparable harm to local landscapes and cultures. 15 years later, and its certified businesses protect 54,000 acres of land in 10 countries; it has supported conservation efforts in another 2.2 million hectares of protected land and has trained more than 11,000 practitioners in 12 Latin American countries.
The alliance's efforts have ranged from supporting the launch of international sustainable tourism organizations like the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to certifying large hotels in the Mexican Riviera Maya, to helping indigenous communities in the Amazon region, Mexico’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere and others create offerings for travelers who want to learn about local culture.
To celebrate its anniversary, the Rainforest Alliance has published this report, in which many of its former associates reflect on its impact in the regions they worked.
Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations at COP21 Tourism Side Event
Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations spoke at the only tourism side event to take place at the COP21 international climate change negotiations, which took place in Paris last December. Travelife was the only sustainable tourism certification scheme to speak at the event, joining a range of speakers from the tourism sector, including the WTTC, ITP, TUI Group and Marriott Hotels. Travelife's presentation explained how it works closely with partners including tour operators, destinations and hotel groups to support low carbon sustainable tourism objectives.
To access more information about the event and download the presentations, please visit Evea Turisme website (scroll to the bottom of the page) and please click here for more information about Travelife.
Introducing The Long Run
The Long Run is a global movement of people driving sustainability through their nature-based tourism businesses. It guides, connects and support its members to achieve and exceed the highest standards of sustainability practices through the “4Cs” Framework – a holistic balance of Conservation, Community, Culture, Commerce. From game reserves to islands, desert to rainforest, river lodges to mountains, the commitment, passion and success of members inspires others to grow and develop the sustainability movement across the world.
Three members of The Long Run were winners and finalists in WTTC’s 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards: Feynan Ecolodge (Jordan), Grootbos Nature Reserve (South Africa) and Soneva Group Maldives & Thailand. And last year, new members included the Arctic Circle-based Basecamp Oulanka, and American Prairie Reserve, which aims to create the largest wildlife reserve in the USA by linking together more than 3.5-million-acres of critical habitat.
You can see who all the organisation's members are, and find information on joining them at The Long Run's website.
Written and edited by Jeremy Smith