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of the best responsible trips Ben Fogle: The trip that changed my life

EXCLUSIVE Your guide to the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards

Does carbon offsetting work? Around the world at 3mph: the ultimate in slow travel

and the winners are...

www.responsibletravel.com Holidays that respect destinations and local people Cover final.indd 1

1/12/09 09:49:15


Contents

THE AWARDS 32 Overall winner and Best in a marine environment

FEATURES 06 The carbon dilemma 10 Meet the entrepreneurs

40 Best for conservation of cultural heritage

14 r:travel news

44 Best for conservation of wildlife and habitats

18 Around the world at 3mph: the ultimate in slow travel

50 Best in a mountain environment

22 16 of the best responsible trips

Cover image | Shutterstock.com

94 View from the judges’ bench 54 Best large accomodation 56 Best small accomodation

98 Ben Fogle: the trip that changed my life 16

of the best responsible trips

62 Best low carbon transport and technology

Ben Fogle: The trip that changed my life

EXCLUSIVE Your guide to the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards

66 Best tour operator for cultural engagement 72 Best volunteering organisation 76 Best responsible cruise or ferry operator 80 Best for poverty reduction

Does carbon offsetting work? Around the world at 3mph: the ultimate in slow travel

and the winners are...

www.responsibletravel.com Holidays that respect destinations and local people Cover final.indd 1

26/10/09 10:42:18

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84 Best destination 90 Best personal contribution

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r:travel | 03


Welcome

of our winners created a cultural festival that isn’t just a tourist attraction, but proved to be even more popular with the locals than travellers. Our ‘Best for low carbon transport & technology’ category can often prove to be a tricky category to judge, and this year we were excited to award three clearly commendable organisations for making great strides towards carbon reduction in imaginative ways. Alcatraz Cruises’

Hornblower Hybrid wowed us with its range of kit – using every bit of technology possible to create a polished energy-efficient vessel. This year has seen the continuation of very tough times for the tourism industry,

Infectious ideas

and I was particularly impressed to see that organisations haven’t compromised their commitments to preserving relationships with local communities and the environment. I am encouraged that this difficult period has not undermined

Welcome to our third issue of r:travel, and our sixth year celebrating the most innovative and effective initiatives in responsible tourism. These pages are brimming with inspiring stories from the winners of our Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2009 – now the most prestigious and competitive awards scheme of their kind in the world

S

ince launching the Awards in

the ingenuity of our winners, one of whom

2004, I have continued to be

managed not only to cut costs and make

excited by the incredibly diverse

money, but did so while keeping the

and truly ground-breaking ideas

positive impacts of tourism among the

of our winning and highly commended organisations. Year on year, the Awards

local community. It’s not just that our winners have

celebrate the brightest change-makers in

had some great ideas in harsh times; it’s

the tourism industry for leading the way

that they have managed to combine an

in creating better places for people to live

expert knowledge of the issues affecting

in and better places to visit – in that order.

their communities and the environment

I hope that you find some of these truly

with an approach to creating memorable

commendable achievements as infectious

experiences for travellers. Experience for

and inspirational as we have.

money has become more important than

More than ever, the Awards have proved

value for money. Responsible tourism

a fantastic way to share ideas, drawn

delivers this in abundance as well as

from among the niche as well as the

making the world a better place.

mainstream, from the smallest home-grown B&Bs to the largest international projects. And I’ve seen some truly great ideas this time around. This year we saw one operator who had figured out how to make a four-star hotel out of a geodesic dome, to

04 | r:travel

set it up in the heart of Patagonia’s richly

Justin Francis,

biodiverse environment, and then to take it

managing director

down leaving absolutely no trace. Another

responsibletravel.com


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Are offsets the route to a guilt-free holiday…?

W

ith one click of a button that guilt-ridden return flight to some far-flung,

… and if not, what is? With the December UN climate conference in Copenhagen capturing headlines, the environmental impact of flying has never been hotter. Krissy Roe looks deeper into the arguments around offsetting

sunny destination is

erased in the same frenzied, pre-holiday panic that one might approach the suitcase packing:- ‘Suncream? Tick. Sarong? Tick.

or environmental project in

Carbon offsetting? Ah yes, tick.’

the developing world in order to

For responsible travellers, the impact of flying on the environment is difficult to

‘neutralise’ your carbon impact. Carbon offsetting is not just a consumer

ignore. One long-haul return flight can

trend. It has been embraced by the travel

produce more carbon dioxide per passenger

and tourism industry at large, too. Recently,

than the average UK motorist in one year.

more and more holiday companies, airlines

In September, the Committee on Climate

and hotels have been turning to carbon

Change (CCC), an independent advisory

offsetting schemes in order to support

body, warned the UK Government that

claims that they are ‘carbon neutral’

global aviation emissions should be capped

businesses, offering travellers a ‘guilt-free’

as part of a wider global agreement to tackle

travel alternative – the chance to have their

climate change. If left unchecked, the CCC

cake and eat it.

cautioned that global aviation emissions

At a United Nations forum on climate

could account for 15-20 per cent of all

change in September, British Airways

CO2 produced in 2050. In the mind of the

chief executive Willie Walsh, speaking

impact. They are the best option for the

responsible traveller, the impact of flying is

on behalf of the International Air

planet and we urge the UN to adopt them.’

even more pronounced as global warming

Transport Association (the industry body

poses a severe threat to those things that

that represents the aviation industry),

were widely criticised by environmental

we hold most dear – local communities and

announced that the aviation industry

campaigners as this carbon-cutting

environments around the world.

was to cut its net carbon dioxide

strategy announcement relied on carbon

emissions to half their 2005 levels by

offsetting to achieve its target rather than

established tool for travellers looking to

2050. ‘International aviation emissions

real emissions reductions. The move was

reduce the impact of their holiday. The

were not included in the Kyoto protocol

viewed as a clear attempt by the industry to

concept is simple: chose from several

12 years ago. Now we have a chance to

take firm control of the reigns of its destiny

hundred different companies online which

rectify that omission, and we must seize

prior to Copenhagen, where they anticipate

will calculate your flight emissions and

it. Our proposals represent the most

increased pressure over growing emissions.

then work out a monetary value or ‘cost’

environmentally effective and practical

Greenpeace subsequently described the

for you to pay towards a community

means of reducing aviation’s carbon

announcement as ‘little more than an

Consequently, offsets have become an

06 | r:travel

Walsh and the aviation industry at large


Carbon Dilemma

SIX TIPS ON FLYING FOR THE RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER per passenger mile than longer flights

Train travel is a great way to see a

as take off and landings generate a

destination and has a much lower

significant part of the total emissions

carbon impact than flying. According to Eurostar’s head of environment and

per flight. 5. Enjoy fewer, but longer breaks

energy Louisa Bell, ‘high-speed rail

where your holiday creates some

elaborate conjuring trick’

achieves an immediate 90 per cent cut

real benefits to conservation and

and ‘corporate greenwash’.

in journey emissions based on research

local communities in the tourism

which has shown that a Eurostar trip

destination – ask your operator for

Earth produced a report entitled Offsetting:

generates just ten per cent of the CO2

their written responsible tourism policy

A Dangerous Distraction. The report argues

emissions of an equivalent flight.’

In June this year, Friends of the

that carbon offsetting fails to reduce, and

2. Think about holidaying closer to

to ensure this is the case. 6. Fly more carbon efficiently.

in some cases is even increasing, carbon

home. The ‘staycation’ has been the

choosing an airline that fills its planes

emissions. ‘Carbon offsetting is doing

catchphrase of 2009 and the trend is

and flies direct will help reduce your

nothing to combat climate change, is putting

set to continue.

carbon impact, as will choosing a

the lives and livelihoods of millions of

3. Try and avoid internal flights

charter or economy flight. You can

people at risk and is entrenching inequality

within a destination. Use local

choose and compare the most carbon

between rich and developing countries’ levels

public transport where possible or go

efficient carriers at www.flysmart.org

of emissions,’ says Andy Atkins, executive

on foot or by bike.

director at Friends of the Earth.

4. Think about taking fewer short

Professor Harold Goodwin, director of The International Centre for Responsible

−>

See www.responsibletravel.com/

breaks by air. Shorter flights and

carboncaution and www.flysmart.org

multiple stopovers are more polluting

for further advice and tips.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS:

1. Take the train whenever possible.

r:travel | 07


Carbon Dilemma −>

Tourism agrees with the report and sees

become the Trojan Horse of anti-pollution

that we should be doing all we can in terms

offsetting in the context of tourism as ‘part

strategies for greenhouse gases.’

of carbon reduction via lifestyle adjustments

of the problem not part of the solution.’

So where does this leave individual

as well as offsetting our impacts. Indeed, for

In Goodwin’s opinion, ‘the purchasing of

travellers who feel strongly about

the traveller who has done their utmost to

carbon offsets or permits to continue to

environmental issues, want to minimise

reduce their emissions then Francis agrees

pollute, would not be accepted for asbestos,

their impacts but also have a desire to go

that offsets do have a role to play. His

sulphides or chemical effluent. They

on travelling and exploring the world? Are

concern is that too few people use them in

should not be accepted for carbon pollution

offsets the answer for them?

this way.

– a form of pollution which threatens

Justin Francis, co-founder of travel

There is also no hiding the fact that

far more disastrous consequence for our

agent responsibletravel.com recognises

tourists will continue to want to visit

species and our environment. Offsetting has

the dilemma travellers face and says he

destinations requiring a flight to get there.

regularly receives questions from customers

On top of this it has long been established

Want to offset your own carbon life?

looking for advice on what to do. ‘They

that if done responsibly, tourism can

Here are some lifestyle tips to reduce

rightly recognise that responsible tourism

contribute to livelihoods, local economic

your overall carbon footprint

can have a hugely positive economic

development and the conservation of the

impact on communities around the world,

world’s cultural and natural heritage.

1. Lag your loft. Spending

however they are also acutely aware

Francis acknowledges this: ‘Yes, we will

approximately £284 lagging your

that global warming threatens the very

continue to want to fly and that’s why

loft could save you up to £130 a

distinctiveness of the communities and

it’s more important than ever that when

year on energy bills – the equivalent

environments that they are seeking out on

we do take an overseas holiday we make

of approximately 1.5 tonnes of

their travels.’

that holiday count as much as possible

carbon. There are government grants available for loft and wall insulation. 2. Switch to a green electricity tariff. Visit www.greenelectricity.org 3. Buy local. Support local businesses

responsibletravel.com was one of the

by choosing a holiday that makes a real

first travel companies to introduce a carbon

difference in the destination – one that

offsetting function for consumers in early

seeks to reduce CO2 impacts, supports local

2002 through a partnership with Climate

community programs and community

Care which they promoted with the message

developments.’

and suppliers, and enjoy cooking

that, ‘it was a last measure once you had

and eating foods that are in season.

reduced the amount of carbon you are

‘everything in moderation’ certainly seems

To find your nearest farmer’s market,

emitting as far as is possible,’ says Francis.

to ring true where travel is concerned.

go to: www.farmersmarkets.net.

However, last month, responsibletravel.

The well-versed lifestyle mantra of

Ultimately it is about striking a balance

Avoid food wastage too – the average

com became one of the first travel

between flying less as well as reducing

British household wastes £50 worth of

organisations to remove its offsetting

our everyday carbon emissions, and also

food every month.

function for customers from the website.

ensuring when we do fly that we ‘make

Francis says it was no easy decision but

it count’. It sounds simple enough on a

thermostat by just one degree can

had concluded that offsetting no longer

consumer level but what remains to be

save up to £30 a year on your

provided the guilt-free travel solution that

seen is what action governments and the

heating bill and significantly

travellers were looking for: ‘Offsets distract

aviation industry are going to take along

reduce your household’s emissions.

tourists from the need to reduce their

the way. There’s no doubt that the summit

Remember to turn off radiators in

emissions from both a travel perspective

in Copenhagen will raise the questions, but

rooms/hallways where they aren’t

as well as where everyday lifestyle habits

will it also provide the answers?

necessary and set the timer so the

are concerned. They create a “medieval

heating is only on when you really

pardon” for us to carry on behaving in

need it.

the same way (or worse).’

4. Turn it down. Adjusting your

5. Get a meter which measures your electricity use. It’ll encourage you to turn off lights and electrical equipment and you’ll soon notice the difference in your bills. See www.foe.co.uk and www.1010uk. org for more tips and advice on reducing your carbon footprint.

08 | r:travel

Those in favour of offsetting would argue


© Maison de la France / Phovoir

Enjoy eco-friendly holidays in France!

A relaxing and natural spa break in the Loire Valley.

© Huttopia

/Auvergne © Claire Poney nature

© Manoir de Restigné

Nièvre © Gîte de France

For responsible tourism offers and bookings visit www.franceguide.com/nature

Stay at the Restigné manor hotel’s bio spa from 102,5€ per person for 2 nights A family break in Auvergne in the Claire Poney bio farm. air in the h es fr of th ea br Make your own bread and jam. A ral park in Massif Central natu anda Gîte. Stay in a tipi from 10€ per an authentic WWF P person per night ek we 1 r fo le op pe From 260€ for 4

Huttop ia campsite in the Rambouillet forest near Paris. Rent a roulotte from 158€ for 4 people for 2 nights


The entrepreneurs

Getting responsible right Responsible tourism ventures don’t just happen. They take a mix of inspiration, imagination, dedication and determination. When they work, the results are powerful and sustainable. Meet some of the entrepreneurs who have got what it takes

Claude-Jean Harel

worked in television, we used to come up

buy back or lease back some of the most

with a story and ‘illustrated’ it with pictures,

important parts of the cultural heritage my

The Great Excursions Company, Canada www.great excursions.travel

sounds, narration, special effects. With a

family had created, such as the mansion

tourism experience, we also tell a story and

in Köröspatak, a beautiful Renaissance

illustrate it through the tourism experiences

building in the picturesque village of

our guests will be exposed to, hoping that

Miklósvár (Miclosoara) and several decrepit

it will have a positive impact on both the

remains of village houses. My idea was to

community and the travellers.

start a small, exclusive tourism business

What’s the story?

to finance the restoration of the mansions. We started restoring a couple of the houses.

the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

What advice would you give to anyone else wishing to set up a tourism business?

and looking to do something different. I

Stay true to your beliefs and your identity.

furniture and heated by large ceramic

I started the company in 1998, when I was working as a journalist/producer with

figured tourism would give me the kind of

back again: furnished with old painted stoves or open fireplaces. We just added a

satisfaction I was seeking. Having studied

little modern comfort like stylish bathrooms

Count Tibor Kalnoky

anthropology as an undergraduate and worked in heritage interpretation and

Count Kalnoky’s Guesthouses, Romania www.transylvan iancastle.com

tourism as a student, I launched Great Excursions as a small-scale operation out of my home, focusing on the Canadian Grasslands. We are now a Canada specialist working with the largest travel agency in Saskatchewan and I facilitate tourism development workshops for urban and

They now have received their old spirits

with running, warm water in a village barely provided with electrical power. Although I can only receive a maximum of ten guests at any given time, visitors keep coming – mostly from Britain. They enjoy the unique, cosy atmosphere, the daily ‘cow parade’ at 8pm, our wildlife, trekking through hills and forests or sightseeing.

What’s the story? What works?

rural communities across Canada and the

With my wife Anna, I use my family’s

US: I guess the more conventional tourism

cultural heritage (mainly two former

Two dozen local people are employed all

industry finally figured out that we were on

mansions) to attract visitors interested

year round from a village of 500 souls,

to something. I volunteer on culture and

in our region and its culture. Not mass

reviving traditional building crafts and

heritage research projects, mentor emerging

tourism, of course, but something for

styles, improving the image of Romania/

operators, sponsor culture and the arts at

visitors who appreciate the unique qualities

Transylvania as travel destination,

the grassroots level. I chair our Regina Ice &

of life in a place where the Middle Ages are

convincing locals to preserve their heritage

Fire Carnival.

still very much part of the present. Where

and sensitising guests on living in harmony

there must be a witch and a few ghosts in a

with the environment.

What works?

village worth its salt, where kids make their

Travellers increasingly look for

own sleighs come winter, where the priest

transformational experiences. The common

throws a loaf of bread with a candle in it

thread in what Great Excursions offers

into the river if the corpse of some drowned

What advice would you give to anyone else wishing to set up a tourism business?

is a focus on authenticity of experience,

man is to be found.

Do it with your soul and give great

working with local communities. When I

10 | r:travel

It took ten years’ effort to finally get back,

attention to detail!

−>


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The entrepreneurs killer waves destroyed the resort and its surrounding communities. In the first week of January, working with a mobile phone, a borrowed computer, some salvaged furniture and a small group of volunteers, we started a relief project that grew from simple fresh food delivery into a sustained effort of more than 120 projects in a dozen villages. The Bodhi joins Andaman Discoveries guests for a traditional Thai feast at the village chief’s house

long-term result was Andaman Discoveries, a social enterprise that combines eco-tours, homestays, and volunteer opportunities with handicraft production, education and vocational training.

Ian Ripper Wheatland Farm, Devon www.wheatland farm.co.uk/

What works?

One of our partner communities, Ban

We’ve doubled the turnover of this business,

Talae Nok was devastated by the tsunami –

effectively doubling its value to the

the lower half of the village and school were

local economy. Additionally, we always

swept away, with eight children and their

encourage our guests to use the farm shop

teacher inside. A government official sent

up the road and frequent the village pub.

to assess the situation said he could see no

We help them to stay local, through an

sign that humans had ever lived there. The

events diary and a days out ideas blog. We

only trace was a kids’ swing left swaying

hope we’re a showcase for UK sustainable

in the wind. In the aftermath of this

I’ve been working in sustainable travel for

tourism – proving that doing the green

horror, many of our projects in Ban Talae

over 20 years now, formerly as a co-owner

thing is viable. Last spring I was invited to

Nok focused on education and income

of an award-winning adventure travel

the set-up meeting for Devon’s new Green

generation for women, a group previously

business. When that got too corporate we

Tourism Business Network and am now a

discouraged from economic activity.

took on a more personal challenge: to

Greening Champion within it. In September

ensure at least a small part of the British

we hosted a meeting here – discussing with

countryside is managed sustainably. We

35 other Devon businesses how wildlife can

The people of Ban Talae Nok and

bought this farm in autumn 2006; ponds

be a financial asset to tourism!

surrounding villages are determined to

What’s the story?

What works?

see that tourism serves the goals of the

full of rubbish, three run-down lodges and

community, allowing progress to coexist

Interest (SSSI). The farm is only 21 acres

What advice would you give to anyone else wishing to set up a tourism business?

– impossibly small for agriculture. Yet it is

Integrity is crucial – do it from the heart.

tourism has generated steady income

becoming a thriving rural business. We run

It’s a great time to be in UK tourism – and a

and international recognition, while also

it for wildlife, slowly reverting paddocks to

real chance to make a difference for good.

supporting a children’s centre, orchid

an unused cottage. A third of the farm is a legally designated Site of Special Scientific

with the traditional fishing culture. So far, they have been successful – community

conservation, and other community

flower-rich meadows, restarting hedgerow management, clearing and reshaping

Bodhi Garrett

development projects. The new

ponds for wildlife, and, most importantly,

Company: Andaman Discoveries, Thailand www.andaman discoveries.com

opportunities are also helping to change

reinstating traditional grazing in our SSSI via a no-cash cooperative arrangement with a neighbouring farm. We are winding back the clock on almost a decade of neglect. We finance this through selfcatering green accommodation, achieving gold approval from both the Green Tourism

What’s your story?

conservative attitudes. Parents now see how a daughter’s income can contribute to their recovery and future well-being.

What advice would you give to anyone else wishing to set up a tourism business?

Business Scheme and the Devon Wildlife

On 26 December 2004, my world changed

Community-based tourism is not a quick

ru w it measures such as solar hot Trust with

forever. Before the tsunami, I was working

fix. It takes time, dedication, training and

w ter er p water panels, bio-digesters for food w waste,

at a small eco-resort on the island of Koh

cross-cultural sensitivity on the part of both

ensiv recycling and green energy. y y. extensive

Phra Thong in southern Thailand. Then the

the communities and their supporters.

12 | r:travel


r:travel News

Aqueduct earns place on world heritage list A CANAL aqueduct in Wales is among 13 new ‘cultural properties’ added to the World Heritage List this summer. Conceived by celebrated civil engineer Thomas Telford, and built across the River Dee, the 18km-long Pontcysyllte

The aqueduct joins two other Welsh properties on ‘the list’: Blaenavon industrial landscape (inscribed 2000) and the castles and town walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (inscribed 1986).

Aqueduct is a popular navigational route still welcoming

The World Heritage List now includes 890

thousands of canal boats each year, some 204 years after

properties forming part of the cultural and

its completion during the Industrial Revolution in the early

natural heritage which the World

19th century.

Heritage Committee considers as

The aqueduct is 126ft high and1,007ft long, but measures only 11ft wide and is just 5.25ft deep, and consists of a

having outstanding universal value.

cast-iron trough supported by iron arched ribs carried above the river by 19 hollow masonry piers. It’s widely considered to

See whc.unesco. org/en/list

be a pioneering masterpiece of engineering and monumental metal architecture.

Tango is strictly cultural THE TANGO has been declared part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) aims to preserve a list of legacies under threat from global change. Argentina and Uruguay, where the dance originated at the turn of the last century, jointly submitted it. UNESCO said the dance ‘embodies and encourages diversity and cultural dialogue’. Argentinian official Hernan Lombardi said he was, ‘proud that the music and dance of the tango have now been safeguarded for humanity.’ In August, it was revealed that the financial crisis and swine flu had decreased the number of tourists travelling to Argentina. Some tango shows had been forced to close temporarily, according to Luis Veiga, president of Argentina’s chamber of tango venues. UNESCO declared in 2001 that living traditions – from dance and music to rituals and handicrafts – deserve the same protection as natural and cultural treasures like the Great Wall of China or the Great Barrier Reef. Approved traditions are added to a document, grandly titled The Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Steps are then taken by UNESCO and others to protect and promote their use and understanding. Other nominations included Belgium’s Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges, and a number of artistic traditions from China, including the Tibetan opera.

14 | r:travel


News r:travel

Icy message IN THE RUN-UP to Christmas this year, Trafalgar Square in London will play host to a life-sized

Call for debate on sustainable tourism criteria

ice sculpture of a hunting polar bear. Over ten days the ‘Bear in the Square’ will melt, leaving

CAMPAIGNERS lobbying against plans

consumer, they too have impacts.

a skeleton, a pool of water and a powerful

to establish Global Sustainable Tourism

• The criteria are no more than a ‘wish

environmental message.

Criteria have launched an online

Working in partnership with the World

petition calling for an open debate.

Wildlife Fund, sculptor Mark Coreth will finish

Responsibletravel.com is among

list’ – there is no measure and the outcomes are not reportable. • The certification process is opaque.

carving the bear from a huge block of white

those urging the Global Sustainable

The customer does not know what has

ice during the morning of Friday 11 December.

Tourism Criteria Steering Committee – a

been achieved and cannot take any

After that, anyone who visits Trafalgar Square,

coalition of more than 40 organisations

Northern Terrace will be able to touch the

– not to press ahead with plans without

melting bear and the skeleton as it emerges.

a wide debate on the issues.

Thousands of hands will help the natural

action about failures even if they did. • The criteria are many and varied and not ranked. Furthermore they

Justin Francis, managing director of

fundamentally fail to recognise that

Responsibletravel.com says: ‘We believe

what might be a significant issue

that a “one size fits all” approach to

in one destination might be less

residents and visitors to make a connection with

sustainable tourism is not the answer

important in another and there is no

the polar bear and their Arctic home. It will also

either in terms of offering consumers a

apparent effort within the scheme to

convey the power we humans have to influence

useful point of reference, or indeed in

the delicate balance of nature.

the future advancement of responsible

elements shape this iconic symbol of the Arctic. This will be a great opportunity for London’s

A panel of the UK’s top art consultants and the City of Westminster have already described

overcome this weakness. • There is no evidence that sustainable

tourism within the industry.’

tourism certification is effective (or

Campaigners believe the Global

the best way) to increase the market

the Ice Bear as ‘innovative and involving’.

Sustainable Tourism Criteria

Success in London will signal the start of the

approach to be fundamentally flawed.

Ice Bear’s world tour. The

Specifically:

been no adequate, open debate on

vision is to create Bears in

• No process of certifying hotels can

this subject,’ says Francis. ‘We believe

share of businesses that adopt it. ‘Until now, we believe there has

Squares for Copenhagen,

produce a sustainable tourism

that now is the time to properly discuss

Oslo, Paris, Berlin, Rome,

experience because of the range of

these issues.’

Moscow, New York, Toronto,

activities undertaken on holiday

Tokyo, Beijing and Sydney.

and the impacts of different types of

www.responsibletravel.com/

www.icebearproject.org

consumer. The tourist is not merely a

gstcdebate

Green runs

• Small tour operator Karibuni, which operates a green chalet, which sleeps 40, near La Clusaz in France. The company is

To sign the petition go to http://

and cross-country skiing. A member of Responsibletravel.com • BoardnLodge.com run a green chalet in

SKING WEBSITE Save Our Snow collates

accredited by Climate Care for offsetting

La Rosiere, France that composts waste,

the increasing number of operators

all chalet fuel costs, travel costs (airport

is renewable energy

and accommodation providers that are

runs and similar) and staff travel. The

powered, saves water

adopting responsible tourism principles.

chalet recycles everything and has solar

and power wastage,

Among these are:

panels in the self-catered chalet for all

uses local goods, bio

• Ski Beat, which offers chalet holidays

water and heating.

fuels vehicles using

in France. It has a highly developed

• Belvedere, a small B&B in the Italian Alps

waste oil from

e-brochure, provides ticketless travel and

just a short trip from Turin which can be

local restaurants

has an extensive green policy. It has been

reached by train from London and other

and donates a

awarded AITO’s four-star rating

cities. It’s run on green principles and

share of profits to

for responsible tourism, as a result of

guests are encouraged to enjoy the winter

environmental and

eco-friendly technology used in some

environment with more environmentally

humanitarian

of its chalets.

aware activities including snow-shoeing

charities.

r:travel | 15


r:travel News

Cash-strapped travel charity appeals for help THREATENED CHARITY Tourism Concern has launched an appeal for funds so it can continue monitoring the impact of tourism on destinations. The 100 Appeal asks 100 companies to donate £1,000 to help the charity in its fight for financial survival. Sunvil, Expert Africa and travel pr company bgb were among the first to respond. Donations of £10,000 a year for three years have also been pledged by the Margaret Hayman Trust. Recently, the charity, which has seen donations drop during the current financial crisis, warned that it could close before Christmas unless it received £40,000 in emergency funding. The appeal is part of a longer-term strategy to develop a broader funding base. Travel companies that take part can extend the appeal to customers or staff - asking them to make

New rt guide to Western Australia

voluntary donations of £1 or £10 to support the charity. Every company donation will be recognised and thanked in a Tourism Concern 100 Appeal

TOURISM WESTERN AUSTRALIA has

policy and ability to offer a distinctive

webpage on the Tourism Concern website which

teamed up with Responsibletravel.com

travel experience that benefits the local

will remain live throughout 2010.

to create a sustainable travel guide

community, while sustaining the area’s

to Western Australia, told by locals.

natural and cultural heritage.

The microsite, which launched on 9

Western Australia’s Tourism

Director Tricia Barnett said the charity’s work had helped expose issues about the impact of tourism developments on local people that the industry

November, brings together the best

Minister Liz Constable stated: ‘Western

would otherwise not know about.

travel experiences from across the state,

Australia’s natural assets are what

‘Often we find that the wider travel industry isn’t

travel secrets from locals and a range

set us apart from other destinations.

even aware of many of the issues we encounter,’

of tour operators and accommodation

Visitors are drawn to the unspoilt,

she said, adding: ‘Our core work supports people,

with a proven commitment to local

uncrowded landscapes, which include

particularly in the developing world, whose human

conservation and communities.

the world’s largest fringing reef, ancient

rights have been severely impacted by tourism

rock formations, lush forests and

developments.

The guide, available on www. responsibletravel.com/wa, highlights

national parks teeming with

the best natural and cultural

unique wildlife.

experiences in Western Australia,

‘We strongly believe tourism has an

‘Often they live in fear of reprisals if they speak out about their land or water resources being snatched in the name of a tourism development.

from camping in national parks and

important role to play in protecting

Other times they simply need an outside person to

swimming with turtles at Ningaloo Reef,

these natural assets and returning

give them advice and guidance about how best to

to learning more about the aboriginal

benefits back to the environment and

manage a difficult situation, such as poor working

heritage which surrounds the ochre

the local communities.’

conditions. They often have no other recourse

and black striped domes of the Bungle

Christie Lord, Tourism Western

except through us.’

Bungles. It goes beyond a normal guide

Australia’s UK Marketing Manager

with video and podcasts featuring

added: ‘A number of new eco-focused

three ways:

insider tips from locals on where to go

properties and tours have started in

• Sending a cheque to Tourism Concern c/o Tricia

and what to do.

the state over the past few years. By

All accommodation and tours

partnering with Responsibletravel.com

featured have been selected on the

we can now showcase them in one

basis of a rigorous responsible travel

dedicated site.’

16 | r:travel

Travel companies can donate £1,000 in one of

Barnett, 100 Appeal • Donating online at justgiving.com/ tourismconcern/donate/ • Credit/debit card payments on 020 7133 3800.


Around the world in oh so many ways… v

How many of us have dreamed of taking a break from our lives and just going travelling for a year or more? Young London couple Nick Tuppen and Holly Gee did just that and 14 months later they’re still going. Their only rule: no planes. On a slow boat to China, Holly looks back at how it all began

L

ooking back at what we’ve done

pieced together. It became clear that we

can be a bit mind-blowing. We

both wanted to have an epic adventure

have been crippled by blisters,

that would take us off the beaten path

de-masted 1,300 miles from land,

and provide us with a lifetime of hair-

chased by whales, lost in ghettos, dehydrated in waterless deserts, capsized in storms

A couple of years of working life went

and felt the icy winds of the Bering Sea

by, savings grew and the map became

tearing across our faces. We’re not hardened

increasingly hard to ignore. Before we could

adventurers, but have just set our minds on

get swept up in the treadmill of careers,

doing things and got on with them.

mortgages and being grown-ups we set a

For me it all began when, on my 18th

date for our adventure: in September 2008

birthday I received a cheque for £1,000.

we would leave the UK to travel around

I was so excited I didn’t want to spend it

the world without flying. Not jumping on

and tucked it away in a savings account.

and off planes or waiting in sterile airports

I figured there was something out there

would force us to use more interesting

worth saving some pennies for. It wasn’t

modes of transport and visit more obscure

a house, a car, a new computer, smart

parts of the world. We both fell in love with

clothes or lots of holidays. I wanted to do

the concept of travelling along our own

something different and adventurous one

unbroken line around the world.

day, and I didn’t want money to be the excuse to never do it. A few years later I met Nick, now my

18 | r:travel

raising stories.

We are now just over a year in and don’t regret a second of it. After cycling to Spain, walking to Lisbon, sailing the Atlantic,

fiancé, and learned that he had been

hitch-hiking around the Caribbean,

doing the same. By the time we had both

chicken-bussing up Central America,

left university and settled into London life

cycling up the US, getting on a container

we started to contemplate these dreams

ship across the Pacific, catching trains

together. We bought a huge world map

around China and jumping on jeeps over

and splattered our fragmented aspirations

the Himalayas, we will have made it to

all over it. Within six months there was a

Nepal. So far we have been in and on 265

very disjointed, wiggly line across the map,

different vehicles including 120 buses,

lots of doodles of bikes, boats and trains,

37 boats, two tandems (for more than

and lists of desirable skills. It all gradually

4,000 miles: ouch!) and one motorcycle

−>


Trends in travel

WHO ARE WE?

Holly Gee Age: 25 Education: Modern History BA, Oxford University Previous employment: Research manager for FreshMinds (young consultancy company based in London) Ideal job on return: Documentary/ TV researcher Previous travels: six months backpacking and working in South America. Grew up: Kingston upon Thames Lived in: Clapham and Battersea, London, for three years before the trip

Nick Tuppen Age: 27 Education: English Lit BA, Oxford University Previous employment: Brand manager (marketing) at Diageo, working on Captain Morgan Rum, Pimms and Gordonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gin. Ideal job on return: Marketing for the London 2012 Olympics Previous travels: Backpacking and cycling trips in Nepal, Mexico and India; one year teaching in Australia and travelling around New Zealand. Grew up: Cheltenham and Totnes in Devon Lived in: Clapham and Battersea, London, for three years before the trip

r:travel | 19


The world has proved to be bigger, more intriguing, more welcoming and more awesome the slower you travel through it

−>

your surroundings. Rather

what type of people we are and the human

than being intimidated,

psyche in general. It has also helped us form

locals are intrigued and want

opinions about the state of the world and

to be part of the adventure.

the systems that make it tick. We have had

The world is on your side.

the time to read up on the places we travel

This is especially true

through or opinions relayed to us on route.

when we’re on our fully-

Whereas our busy lives in London made it

loaded tandem, which is

easy to shrug off the big problems the world

why it has become our

faces today, the trip has made us step back

favourite mode of travel.

and take it all in. We have compared how

On day two of the whole

people live in different parts of world and

trip we were waiting for our

tried to understand what makes a society

ferry in Newhaven when

or a community thrive without having to

a bearded and slightly wild looking

drastically exploit land or people.

old guy approached us declaring his love for

That said, it hasn’t all been rose-tinted.

tandems. One week later we were knocking

Being on the road for this long takes its toll

back wine in his farmhouse in the Dordogne

at times. In between the big challenges and

with lots of his friends, chatting about the

big planning sessions there are down times

eclectic lives they’ve all led and hugely

that can feel very unreal. When there is

appreciating a night off the camping stove.

nothing to focus your energy on, not working

On the tandem, even the most inhospitable

feels very unnatural, especially when money

dusty backwaters of middle America became

is a constant concern. Our budget is such

havens of smiling, bemused and welcoming

that we can’t afford to swan around seeing

faces. Upon seeing the bike, people would

sites everywhere we go. Whilst it can be

sidecar. As much as possible we try to use

often give us free breakfast rolls or coffees to

hugely revealing to find ways to kill time on

publicly available transport or travel by

help us on our way. After a day of non-stop

the fringes of tourist attractions, in random

human power to increase the challenge and

rain in Canada we were offered a bed for the

suburbs of big flashy cities or in a free

meet more people.

night by a Dutch lady who happened to be

camping spot, on a down day it can be very

cycling past us. We were very happily swept

frustrating. But we recognise that patience is

be in London within three weeks and so we

up into the warmth of their family home

a valuable lesson we’ve been forced to learn

feel closer to home than we’ve been in a long

for a night chatting through everything

on this adventure.

time. But we’re not in a hurry. We plan to

from home-made apple sauce to the fate of

indulge in another slow six months to trek,

indigenous tribes.

If we caught a train tomorrow we could

train, bus, ferry and cycle our way home. When we get back our average speed

Every inch of the way we have been

We both have very mixed thoughts about going home. We will have had a blissful 20 months of living by our rules, being very

overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers.

active outdoors, seeing incredible sights and

around the world will have been about

At the Venezuelan/ Colombian boarder

meeting a huge variety of people. While all

3mph, the speed of walking. So far the world

a complete stranger saved us from being

this is hard to say goodbye to, we are excited

has proved to be bigger, more intriguing,

stranded by giving us $30 to cross the border.

about returning and seeing what the next

more welcoming and more awesome the

We asked for bank details, email or address

phase of our lives bring. We hope that we

slower you travel through it. We have tried to

so we could pay him back but he refused,

will return to England a little bit wiser about

make our means of travel as enlightening as

he just wanted to help. In the Caribbean,

the world and what we want from it, which

the experience of actually travelling through

shopkeepers gave us food and drinks on

seems like a good foundation on which to

somewhere. In most cases we have found

loan when we were stranded in a tiny town,

make the next batch of life decisions!

that the means of travelling can actually

cashless for a night. In Japan, an elderly lady

be more important than where you are.

led us through a bustling seaside town to our

Travelling responsibly is a more rewarding

ferry port to ensure we didn’t get lost. And

and wholesome experience. It completely

these are just a few examples!

changes your perspective as well as how

The trip has given us a chance to spend

strangers perceive you. When you are an

time with people of all ages and from all

unexpected visitor or don’t comply with the

walks of life. It has given us an invaluable

norm you immediately open yourself up to

insight into how we want to lead our lives,

You can read Nick and Holly’s blog about their trip on www.3mphroundtheworld.com/ or through responsibletravel.com’s online community at www.responsibletravel. com/3mph

20 | r:travel or through responsibletravel.


Trends in travel

HOW WE PAID OUR WAY We saved a pot of £30,000 for the trip and set an estimated budget of £20,000 for 20 months of travelling, knowing that we might have to work to top this up along the way. To maximise our money we decided to live under canvas and travel by tandem in the expensive places: Europe, USA and Canada. We have always been really keen to come home within our budget and it looks as if we’re not going to be far off. To do so, however, we have cut out a rather ambitious loop of South East Asia and will work or volunteer for three months over the winter. Constantly adapting our plans is all part of the fun and one of the pleasures of traveling so slowly and without flying. While sailing across the Atlantic our skipper decided to bring us into the north of the Caribbean rather than the south. We had to spend a month hitch-hiking our way down the islands. This swallowed up a huge chunk of budget (the Caribbean isn’t really set up for those on the cheap). But you just go with it, and in the end this proved to be one of the most rewarding parts of the trip as we ended up going where not many foreign white folk had been before!

r:travel | 21


16 top responsible holidays

Next time you 1 travel, look for the RT factor

Lakeside cabin in the Dordogne

These charming oak cabins sit on the lakeshore, in the midst of beautiful forest and provide a cosy, relaxing retreat with minimal impact on the environment. Take out a raft and listen to fish jumping and the frogs’ chorus or hop on the bikes and explore the pretty local villages.

RT Factor Built from local timber and reclaimed materials the two cabins, which sleep two and four respectively, are

From exploring the wilds of Scotland, to a jungle adventure in Borneo, from sailing on the Nile to cruising Galapagos, or exploring the Antarctic wilderness, here’s our pick of 16 holidays with the RT factor

VALUE

3

off-grid, so green alternative energies are used to provide warmth, heat and light. Cost From £300-£500 for seven nights self-catering, depending on which cabin. With Covert Cabin. www.responsibletravel.com/CovertCabinDordogne

Group holidays in the Scottish Highlands

This distinctive holiday can be tailor-made for groups of four to ten people to allow you to absorb the drama and beauty of the Highland landscapes at your own pace. Local experts lead a variety of activities including wild food foraging and cookery, dry stone walling, kayaking and holistic massage.

2

Fiji community holiday

RT Factor Enjoy the outdoor life in this natural, unspoilt area and explore the wilderness without encountering another soul. Sourcing your food from the local firths and farmland, you will be encouraged to consider how to develop a sustainable lifestyle.

Sample a unique cross-cultural

Cost From £350-£700 for seven nights excluding flights. Price per person. Includes

community tourism project on Vorovoro

accommodation, food and activities (depending on requirements).

Island, Fiji. As well as being great value

With Wild Rose Escapes.

adventure, the aim is that the evolving

www.responsibletravel.com/wildrose

island community becomes a model for cross-cultural sustainable living. Participate in cultural projects, try your hand at spear-fishing and absorb local knowledge at the tribe’s library. RT Factor The island has compost

4

Mayan cultural tour in Central America

This three-week adventure offers the opportunity to explore the cultural highlights of

toilets, uses only renewable energy and all

Central America without breaking the bank. Discover the vibrant history of

waste water is used on the gardens. The

the Ancient Mayan ruins and experience the colourful lifestyle on the

project employs more than 100 people

Yucatan Peninsula beaches and highlands of Chiapas.

from local communities and works closely

RT Factor From jungle-tangled temples to misty mountainous

with neighbouring tribes, providing

cities, you will cover much of the ground via public transport,

guidance and financial support.

interacting with the locals and learning about the

Cost From £200 (8 days) - £600 (22

importance of preserving traditional handicrafts.

days) excluding flights. Stays of up

Cost From £1105 (22 days) excluding flights.

to 12 weeks can be arranged. Price

Price includes local payment, transport and

includes island stay, all meals and pick

simple hotels. Maximum group size 12.

up and drop off from local airport with

With Intrepid.

Tribewanted.

www.responsibletravel.com/

www.responsibletravel.com/

IntrepidMaya

Fijicommunity

22 | r:travel


16 top responsible holidays

5

Feluccas & Pharaohs in Egypt

Children and adults alike will gaze in awe at the incredible sights on this magical trip – from the imposing pyramids, to Tutankhamun’s gold mask to the hieroglyphs at the temples of Karnak. You’ll sail on a felucca on the Nile, ride a camel in the desert and snorkel over coral reefs. RT Factor By taking traditional forms of transport and using local accommodation and eating establishments you will benefit the communities you travel through. Your guides will inform you of local religion, customs, and sensibilities and hope that you will join them in their wish to see the world as it really is, and not to change it. Cost From £1,099-£1,329 (ten days) per adult and from £989-£1,199 per child including flights from the UK. £659-£859 per person excluding flights. With the Adventure Company

FAMILY

6

Peak District self-catering cottages

7

Vietnam family adventure

www.responsibletravel.com/egyptfamily

8

Spot kangaroos in Western Australia

This restored 15th century organic

Journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh

Picture pristine white beaches, magnificent

dairy farm in the heart of the Peak

City by train, plane and boats on this

caves and world-famous wineries and

District National Park is an ideal place

varied family itinerary. There are new

restaurants. These delightful bungalows

for a family break. Wake up to views

skills for everyone to learn – paddle

will ensure peace and privacy for you

of country gardens, grazing cows and

sea kayaks, get to grips with a martial

and your family. They are located on a

rolling hills and the smell of freshly

art and cook spicy Vietnamese food.

37-acre farm central to all the renowned

baked bread. Children can play garden

Explore the Mekong Delta and spend

attractions of the Margaret River region.

chess and watch the cows being milked,

the night with a local family.

RT Factor The bungalows are made

and you can enjoy a Swedish hot tub!

RT Factor A tour brimming with

from recycled timber, rammed earth

RT Factor Staying with warm and

fantastic local experiences, including

and stone. They are nestled in the

generous hosts in such an idyllic setting

a homestay in Vinh Long. Get an

bush, overlooking the vineyard and

will allow you to completely unwind.

in-depth view of the country as you

cow paddock, with the beautiful

You have the opportunity to learn how

mingle with local people. Family tours

National Park in the distance. Watch

local farming works as well as sampling

are a great way to educate young

the kangaroos come out of the forest to

delicious organic fare.

people about the world around them…

feed at dusk, or as the sun rises over the

Cost Little Cottage is from £250-£420

and have fun at the same time!

trees. The hosts encourage guests and

per cottage per week (sleeps two).

Cost From £1,467-£1,572 (14 days) per

children to help feed the animals.

Cottage by the Pond is from £260-£720

adult and from £1,217-£1,322 per child

Cost From AU $250 - AU $410 per

per cottage per week (sleeps up to six).

including flights from the UK.

bungalow per night (sleep up to 6).

Wheelchair accessible. With

With Explore.

Sleeps 2-6. With Burnside Bungalows

Beechenhill Farm.

www.responsibletravel.com/

and Organic farm.

www.responsibletravel.com/peakdistrict

vietnamfamily

www.responsibletravel.com/margaretriver

−>

r:travel | 23


16 top responsible holidays

10

Join a volunteer programme in Peru

This 12-week tour is designed to allow affordable travel in South America whilst contributing directly to local communities and creating real opportunities for the children of Peru. The wide variety of projects, including schooling, hygiene and community development, allows tourists to give back to local areas whilst exploring the likes of Lima, Cuzco and the legendary Inca Trail. RT Factor Approximately 40 per cent of each volunteer

contribution goes directly towards project development. Cost From US $4695 (12 weeks) excluding flights. With Peru’s Challenge. www.responsibletravel.com/peruvolunteering

11

Borneo jungle, mountain and beach adventure

After relaxing at a five-star beach resort, trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu at sunrise to watch Borneo come alive below. Visit the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and come into close contact with the remarkable ‘man of the forest’. Enjoy nocturnal jungle treks and wildlife havens before returning to the beach to unwind. RT Factor All the trips are conducted by local guides. Ecolodges and locally built accommodation are used wherever possible, resulting in a minimum effect on the environment. Cost From £2,100 (15 days) excluding flights. With World Primate Safaris www.responsibletravel.com/borneo

WILDLIFE

9

Wilderness trekking safari, Kenya

12

Stay in a safari lodge in Tanzania

Journey to the sacred mountain of ‘Loporin’, in Kenya’s

Perched on the Indian Ocean, the elegant Saadani safari

northern Great Rift Valley, walking through places where only

lodge is the only one within the boundaries of

local tribesmen and a few dozen like-minded travellers have

the beach-fronted Saadani National Park. The

journeyed before you. Your route follows the spectacular Lerachi

privately-run lodge offers a distinctive blend of

gorge and features some of the most stunning scenery in Africa.

beach, bush and river converge in a colourful

RT Factor Experience one of the last great wilderness areas

clash of ecosystems – from lion-tracking in the bush

in Africa on this unique trekking safari. You’ll be assisted by

to swimming with dolphins.

a team of ten Samburu ‘moran’, or tribal warriors, from the

RT Factor All the beach cottages were built around the

remote villages surrounding the Leroghi mountains. To access

natural vegetation and have banana leaf roofing. All

this remote terrain, a convoy of 15-20 mules is used to carry all

services are produced, run and managed by local people

luggage, camp equipment and supplies. By night, relax around

and the vast majority of purchased goods are locally made.

an open fire under clear Africa skies.

Cost From US $360–US $700 per person per night full

Cost From £1549 (7 days) excluding flights. We can arrange

board including two activities and government park fees.

flights from the UK. With Wilderness Journeys.

Price depends upon choice of room.

www.responsibletravel.com/kenyatrekking

www.responsibletravel.com/saadanilodge

24 | r:travel

−>


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16 top responsible holidays

16

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Galapagos cruise holidays

Cruise aboard the comfortable and educational Galapagos Explorer II, the only vessel in the islands to have one of the scientists from the Darwin Station travel during each departure. RT Factor The Galapagos Explorer II is committed to conservation on the islands. It participates in programs with Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Scientific Station and local schools and organisations. Part of the entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park is assigned to the preservation of this unique ecosystem. Cost From US $3,165 – US $4,590 (8 days) excluding flights and US $182 fuel surcharge. Price depends on cabin choice and season. With Tropic Journeys in Nature www.responsibletravel.com/ galapagoscruise

13

Volunteer with children in Nepal

14

Antarctica & South Georgia icebreaker cruises

15

India tour, Taj, tigers and Ganges

Working in one of several skilled

The Antarctic Peninsula, one of the

This is the essence of northern India,

therapy or health care roles, you will

world’s last frontiers, is a perfect

taking in the Taj Mahal and other

make a difference to the lives of 50

example of water, wilderness and

famous sites in the Golden Triangle of

children living at the Naxal Orphanage.

wildlife combining with breathtaking

Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Also included

Many of these have been abandoned by

perfection. The towering white

is a railway journey to the holy city of

parents or found wandering the streets.

mountains, sweeping glaciers and

Varanasi on the Ganges River. Finally,

You will work alongside, not instead of,

icebergs form an unrivalled backdrop

don’t miss the opportunity to go

local people to improve their quality

for abundant sea birds and marine

tiger-spotting in Ranthambore

of life.

mammals. Expect to spot whales, seals

National Park.

RT Factor You will share your personal

and the occasional curious penguin.

RT Factor Visiting Ranthambore helps

skills to build the capacity of the local

RT Factor On-board natural history

conserve Indian wildlife, including

staff and volunteers in all aspects of

experts reveal the wonders of Antarctica

tigers, by bringing in funds to the

childcare under the guidance of the

through guided walks and evening

park. All travellers are guided on how

Organisation for Community, Child

talks, and introduce some of the local

to respect the wildlife and habitats

and Environment Development. By

and global conservation issues which

they come across. During the trip only

using home-stays or locally-owned

this fragile habitat faces. Encounters

Indian guides are used.

guesthouses, volunteers contribute to

with all wildlife are controlled by strict

Cost From £1125 (13 days) excluding

the economic welfare of the community.

responsible codes of conduct.

flights based on twin sharing

Cost From £1,025 (28 days) excluding

Cost From £4195 - £8190 (11-20

accommodation. Single supplements

flights and insurance. Over 21’s only.

days) excluding flights, depending on

will apply.

With People and Places.

expedition and cabin. With Aqua Firma.

With Tribes Fair Trade Travel

www.responsibletravel.com/

www.responsibletravel.com/

www.responsibletravel.com/indiatour

volunteernepal

cruiseantarctica Compiled by Sophie Tanner and Nick Harper

26 | r:travel


its good to and again w o n t u b . Join an moments, rent angle d fe il if w d zing f o a re m ir sha cover ama life fro fa is e d s e it s to s d e a n k h a le wilder Everyday what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s li thing a litt nture and ďŹ nd out e m o ures! s e s cha adve rkable cult p a u m ro g re ll d a n a Explore sm tacular landmarks c e p s , fe li wild

w 2010 of our ne y p o c r u Get yo it now or vis rt planning brochure ta s d o.uk an explore.c ! e r adventu your next

RES ADVENTU E D I W D L WOR

.CO.UK E R O L P X R VISIT E O 1 0 9 0 9 4 49 CALL 084


Headline Sponsor Virgin Holidays

New Zealand

W

e at VIRGIN HOLIDAYS remain as excited to be part of this vital and prestigious event in our third year as headline sponsor as we were back in 2007. It’s about keeping on…keeping on… regardless of obstacles

or the current distractions of the economic backdrop. Consistency in sustainable responsible travel solutions is the key. The formula for keeping this firmly on the agenda is a mix of real initiatives, measurable goals and a big dose of innovation. That’s why we’re so fortunate to have even more innovators among this year’s winners. Twelve months on, and the economic uncertainty continues. What is certain, nonetheless, is that sustainable travel solutions are

This year Virgin Holidays returns as the headline sponsor of the Responsible Tourism Awards 2009. These awards give companies and individuals valuable recognition for their efforts to make the travel industry greener, cleaner and more responsible. Started in 2004 by responsibletravel.com, the awards are managed in partnership with Telegraph Travel, World Travel Market and Geographical – the magazine of The Royal Geographical Society

not a passing challenge. They require our constant vigilance and commitment to change, creativity and focus. Another reason why I’m so excited to honour the winners. And we’ve continued to ‘walk the walk’ here at Virgin Holidays, building on the embedding of responsible business into our company values, our automatic Travel Foundation pricing policy and various community projects here and overseas. This year we’re looking forward to launching a very special umbrella responsible business programme, with new activity that sees us continue to get our business in order, be a good partner to those overseas that work with us and of course to give something back. Do look out for more on this over the coming months. Richard also continues to inspire us all in the Virgin Travel Group with many well-publicised projects in the arena. We’re particularly excited by the group effort to raise £2.5 million for young people through next year’s first Virgin London Marathon, a project all in the group have determinedly named ‘Mission: Possible’. I wish all this year’s nominees and winners all the very best in continuing with their inspiring work, and I thank them for leading the way in sustainable action. Amanda Wills, managing director Virgin Holidays

28 | r:travel


Category Sponsors

Sponsors of the Responsible Tourism Awards

Best destination

Best small accommodation

Best in a marine environment

A hotel, lodge or other accommodation of fewer than 50 rooms that is run with the environment and needs of local people in mind. Sponsored by Discover Dominica Tourism Authority

Best for conservation of cultural heritage

Best large accommodation

An organisation related to a beach or other marine environment, such as turtle conservation or a marine ecotourism trip.

Sponsored by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Sponsored by Tourism Fiji

Best volunteering organisation An organisation offering volunteering opportunities, such as the chance to work on conservation or social projects.

Sponsored by Jamaica Tourist Board

Sponsored by Kenya Tourist Board

An organisation or initiative that is developing or promoting low carbon transport or technology.

Sponsored by Quito Visitorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Bureau

Best cruise or ferry operator

Sponsored by Conservation International

A hotel, lodge or other accommodation of more than 50 rooms that is run with the environment and needs of local people in mind.

A tourism organisation or initiative working to protect and promote cultural heritage.

Best low carbon transport & technology

A resort, village or an entire country that manages tourism well for the longterm benefit of tourists, conservation and local people.

Best for conservation of wildlife and habitat A group or initiative working for the conservation of wildlife and/or their local habitat, such as a national park or wildlife sanctuary. Sponsored by South Australian Tourism Commission

Best tour operator for cultural engagement

Best for poverty reduction An organisation that acts to reduce poverty among communities.

Sponsored by PromPeru

Best personal contribution A person who has made an outstanding contribution to responsible tourism.

Sponsored by Tourism Ireland

Best in a mountain environment

A cruise or ferry operator that acts responsibly towards the environment and local people.

A tour operator which creates positive engagement with the culture and traditions of the local community or indigenous people.

An organisation related to a mountain environment, such as an eco-friendly ski resort or a trip that contributes to the welfare of mountain porters.

Sponsored by Tourism Malaysia

Sponsored by Tourism Western Australia

Sponsored by World Expeditions

r:travel | 29


The responsible world

25 27 26 1

23 4 28

17 29

5 20 12 28

10

19

13

31 22 32

16

3 21

34

11

7 35 33

2 18 30 15

8 24 14 6

9

1 Alcatraz Cruises LLC, Low carbon transport and technology, 62

Where the winners are... 18 People and Places, Volunteering, 72 19 Peruâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Challenge, Volunteering, 75

2 Beechenhill Farm, Small accommodation, 58

20 Rekero, Poverty reduction, 82

3 Blue Ventures, Marine environment, 37

21 Rivers Fiji, Conservation of cultural heritage, 42

4 Camel Dive Club & Hotel, Marine environment, 38

22 Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge, Small hotel, 56

5 Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wildlife and habitats, 48

23 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Cruise/ferry operator, 76 24 Seat 61, Low carbon transport and technology, 64

6 Chris Thompson, Personal contribution, 93

25 SeaFrance Ltd, Cruise/ferry operator, 79

7 City of Cape Town, Destination, 84

26 Selena Travel LLC, Conservation of cultural heritage, 40

8 Coral Cay Conservation, Volunteering, 74

27 Swiss Travel System, Low carbon transport and

9 Ecocamp Patagonia, Mountain environment, 53

technology, 65

10 Estrela, Tour operator for cultural engagement, 70

28 Tribal Voice Communications, Poverty reduction, 83

11 Gavin Bate, Personal contribution, 90

29 Tropic Journeys in Nature, Tour operator for cultural

12 Great Plains Conservation, Wildlife and habitats, 44

engagement, 69

13 Guludo Beach Lodge, Poverty reduction, 80

30 Upland Escapes, Mountain environment, 50

14 Kent Downs AONB, Destination, 88

31 Village Ways, Tour operator for cultural engagement, 66

15 Manda Brookman, Personal contribution, 92

32 Way Out Experiences, Wildlife and habitats, 46

16 Misool Eco Dive Resort and Conservation Centre,

33 Whale Watch Kaikoura, Marine and overall, 32

Marine, 36 17 Napo Wildlife Centre, Small hotel accommodation, 60

34 Wilderness Journeys, Mountain environment, 52 35 YHA Wellington City, Large accommodation, 54

r:travel | 31


Best in a marine environment / Overall winner

WINNER Whale Watch Kaikoura, New Zealand

How the whales brought a town back to life From humble beginnings, a 100 per cent Maori-owned business has rejuvenated a community and become a cornerstone of sustainable tourism in New Zealand

unemployment was the result in Kaikoura along with crime. Most local businesses were family-owned and didn’t offer jobs to local Maori that freely. Then a group of four local Maori families

A

giant sperm whale breaks

Back in the mid-1980s, Kaikoura, a small

came up with the idea of taking people

the surface of the ocean, its

town two and a half hours drive north

to watch whales as a means of creating

massive tail fin silhouetted

from Christchurch in New Zealand’s South

employment for local Maori. No financial

against a stunning backdrop

Island, was dying on its feet. The major

institute at the time would loan the group

of sea and sky. Seeing a whale up close

employer in the town was the railways and

any money, so they all had to mortgage

has got to be one of the most breathtaking

when they were privatised in 1987 many

their houses to get the capital to start the

sights anywhere on the planet.

people lost their jobs, tearing the heart out

business – at the beginning everyone worked

of the community.

for free because the company had no money.

For one Maori community in New Zealand, every sight of a whale is a

Kaikoura’s Maori community was

But in its very first year of operation the

celebration of one of the country’s most

especially hard hit. Nearly everyone

100 per cent Maori-owned Whale Watch

thrilling tourism success stories.

had worked on the railways. High

Kaikoura took out 3,000 clients.

32 | r:travel


SPONSORED BY:

Tourism Fiji

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

The rest wasn’t history, not at first. WWK’s current chief operating officer Kauahi Ngapora explains that: ‘The early years were very difficult as the community didn’t take kindly to a Maori operation doing well. We had our bus fire-bombed and totally destroyed, death threats were made and our vessels and engines sabotaged by members of the local community. Thankfully those days are well and truly behind us now.’ Today, WWK is the town’s largest employer, hiring 75 staff at peak times, it has a turnover of NZ$10 million, and channels a minimum of NZ$550,000 of profits to the community via its Kaikoura

−>

‘Rarely do we see a tourism initiative developed from the ground up by a local community to such a successful and grand scale – growing from modest beginnings to securing a joint venture with Sea World on the Gold Coast of Australia to provide their whale watching. Whale Watch Kaikoura provides consistently responsible whale-watching tours with minimal impacts. The founding of the enterprise by four Maori families has demonstrated that the local Maori community can not only grow a considerable tourism business, but, more significantly, use that business to buy back their ancestral land for the benefit of the indigenous people and their cultural identity. They are also the largest financial contributor to the Department of Conservation’s research on the effects of marine mammal watching in Kaikoura, and demonstrate that marine tourism development can go hand in hand with the careful progress of marine conservancy.’

Fiji, ‘The Soft Coral Capital of the World’, is made up of 333 islands surrounded by reefs and diverse underwater terrain. It is rated as one of the world’s top ten dive destinations and is a South Pacific marine paradise famous for its white sand, palm fringed beaches, azure lagoons and exceptional reefs. World famous marine biologist Jean-Michel Cousteau says of Fiji: ‘The unparalleled range of quality dive sites and sheer diversity of life of the reefs is overwhelming.’ Tourism Fiji is dedicated to promoting and protecting this special, and in parts very fragile, marine environment and has long supported and actively encouraged sustainable tourism. Fiji Tourism’s UK and Ireland representative, Jane West emphasises the importance of this work: ‘As a tourist board it is vital to educate all visitors to be both socially and environmentally responsible for the benefit of, most importantly, the Fijian people and future tourists to their wonderful country.’ To help project the eco-systems, Tourism Fiji works with partners to conserve Fiji’s marine biodiversity by encouraging guests not to remove items, especially coral, from the reefs and requesting they do not purchase souvenir products made from coral or endangered plants or animals. Many of the country’s leading resorts offer diving adventures. One of them, Matava, has just a won the Project AWARE Marine Environmental category at the PADI Asia Pacific Member Awards. The award rewards vision, excellence and pursuit of conservation to ensure the enjoyment of underwater environments for future generations. www.fijime.com

r:travel | 33


−> Charitable Trust. Quite simply, WWK has

now the key industry in our community

it annually takes all Year Four students

transformed the town and especially the

and supports a wide variety of businesses

(aged eight) out whale-watching free

fortunes of the Maori community. It has

within the town, both directly and

of charge; it helps fund local volunteer

also spent NZ$3 million to buy back land

indirectly, such as cafes, restaurants, bars,

groups such as the fire brigade, St John’s

of huge cultural significance to the Maoris

motels, hotels, backpacker hostels, holiday

ambulance and coastguard; it supports

thus preserving the history and traditions

parks, transport providers, retail outlets and

local initiatives such as beach-cleaning and

of the indigenous Ngati Kuri people of

service suppliers, which has resulted in a lot

tree planting; it provides free books to all

Kaikoura. ‘It is our commitment to these

of employment opportunities.’

local primary schools through its ‘books in

aspects that define our cultural identity,’ says Kauahi. ‘Whale Watch has established an economic base within our small rural community which has enabled the

The company is also a trail blazer in

schools programme’; it funds local youth

responsible tourism and was among the

and sports organisations and sponsors

first in New Zealand to be awarded the

local community events such as the village

prestigious Qualmark Gold standard.

Christmas celebration. WWK members

WWK is the barometer for Kaikoura as

are also on the executives of the Kaikoura

community to maintain its unique kiwi

its success or failure will have a direct and

Tourism & Development Committee,

cultural identity,’ says Kauahi. ‘Tourism is

substantial effect on the entire community;

Kaikoura Envision Business Group and

‘I have seen on many occasions our guests breaking down in tears of joy at seeing these absolutely amazing creatures for the first time in their natural environment – for some it is the adventure of a lifetime, unforgettable and even a slight brush with God’ - Kauahi Ngapora

34 | r:travel


Overall winner / Best in a marine environment Kaikoura Information and Tourism

FROM BOY TO MANAGER

Incorporated who have significant influence to the future growth and development of

THE CAREER of Whale Watch Kaikoura’s

vessels and I worked my way through the

the Kaikoura community.

chief operating officer Kauahi Ngapora

ranks to become a senior skipper where I

(below), is a great example of how the

trained new skippers.

In a nutshell. Whale Watch Kaikoura is Kaikoura.

company has given an avenue to progress

‘My ambition was to become an ocean-

‘Our immediate priority is to manage

in life to young local Maori who otherwise

going master so that I could drive huge

the company through the current global

would have had limited job opportunities.

vessels around the world. But this changed

economic crisis, but our future challenge is to

This is his personal story:

when I was offered an opportunity to

ensure the long-term viability, sustainability

‘My Aunty Becky Clayton, who was a

enter into management. Firstly, it was

and growth of WWK and the Kaikoura

founding family member for WWK told

just to manage the rosters for the sea

community as a tourism experience and a

my mother that there was an opening at

department, but it grew from there all the

holiday destination,’ says Kauahi.

WWK for me. I was less then excited as I

way up to chief operating officer, which

had already made plans to go away for

has me responsible for the entire company

the holidays so I didn’t want to take the

reporting directly to the company

job, but my father simply said, “You are

chairman and board of directors.

www.whalewatch.co.nz

going to work for WWK” and I have been there for more than 17 years.

‘For me, the rewarding aspects of WWK are the sense of whanau (family), sense

‘At the time I couldn’t see it, but

of community, the relationship with the

when I look back the opportunity was

marine life and the environment, pride

life-changing. All the skills, experience

in a 100 per cent Maori-owned operation

and qualifications I have now have been

that wasn’t started by government

possible because of WWK, The only job I

handouts, honour by understanding

had before WWK was mowing the lawns

how much hard work was put in and the

at the Marae. Working at WWK has kept

sacrifices made to start and grow this

me out of trouble, it allowed me at a

business and my personal obligation to

young age to contribute financially to my

continue the story that is WWK to

parents and it had a major influence on

honour those that have gone before

shaping me as a man.

me and sacrificed so much for a dream

‘My first job was that of a “caregiver” which required me to do nothing more

and a vision. ‘It gives me a huge sense of pride

then hand out and then empty spew

and honour being able to represent

buckets – I then got the opportunity after

such a company both at a national

a year to train as a guide which was very

and international level as a wholly

daunting for me as young and rather shy

indigenously owned operation that is

Maori kid, and talking to boat-loads of

successful and is now one of the leading

strangers was sheer terror. But I managed

nature experiences within New Zealand

to beat my fear and they couldn’t shut me

and right up there with the best our

up after that.

country has to offer.’

‘I worked my way through the guiding ranks to become a senior guide where I trained new guides to do what I do. I then got the opportunity to train as a skipper, which I was extremely excited about so I got my tickets and the necessary skills training to drive our

r:travel | 35


Best in a marine environment Highly Commended

HIGHLY COMMENDED Misool Eco Resort, Indonesia

Deep in thought years running dive trips in the area. He

dive in a fast-moving, icy cold

looked for an anchorage where he could

river in the north of England

set up his own conservation and research

in the middle of February

centre, eventually realising that the remote

1991. Through the murk, he spotted

location would make it way too expensive

some tattered leaves, a nondescript brown

to run. And so, in 2005, Misool Eco Resort

fish, and lots of litter. Many of us would

was born, to help fund the bigger picture.

have looked for another hobby. Andrew was hooked.

At the heart of the plan was the creation of a 425km No-Take Zone (NTZ) where no

the villages and hence rarely fished by the

Today he runs an eco dive resort and

fishing or collecting of marine organisms

local people. However, it is often visited by

conservation centre in Papua, Indonesia,

is allowed. This area includes green turtle

illegal fishermen, fishing with dynamite

that is showing how responsible tourism

nesting sites, fish spawning sites, as well as

and cyanide or laying long lines for sharks.

can play a key role in environmental

islands that are home to protected species

Extending to this area would more than

protection and the long-term welfare of a

of sea eagle, cockatoos, coconut crabs,

double our NTZ, making it an area nearly

local community.

saltwater crocodiles and mambruk birds.

five times the size of Barbados.’

Andrew first arrived in Raja Ampat in early 2002 on a liveaboard and spent three

Andrew says: ‘The resort – and the local

Also in the pipeline is a dedicated

employment and income that it would

conservation centre building in 2010,

bring – was the carrot that helped the NTZ

making it easier for scientists to use Misool

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

go through. It wasn’t easy, but, as the

as a base for research. It will also provide

local people – particularly the older

education facilities for guests and the local

‘This small dive resort and conservation centre has worked in conjunction with the local community fishermen and leaders to create a 425 sq km No Take Zone protecting the rich biodiversity of the surrounding islands, reefs and waters. They train and employ local people to patrol and protect the zone, helping to set the standard in responsible tourism for the burgeoning tourism destination of Raja Ampat.’

generation – have a tradition of opening

community. Misool works closely with the

and closing fishing areas, they could

village of Yellu, offering employment and

quickly see the benefits.’

job training, and funding education in the

36 | r:travel

Initially, Andrew and his fellow directors policed the NTZ, but gradually the local

local school. ‘I have never been interested in building

people have taken this over. ‘At the end of

a resort just for the sake of it,’ adds Andrew.

the day it’s “their” waters and reefs

‘It’s about doing it in the “right” way. We

and they are protecting them not just for

have no illusions that we are perfect or

the divers who like to see lots of fish, but for

have the “answer”. We are a bunch of

their children and grandchildren,’

normal folk trying to do right by the local

says Andrew.

community, this wonderful environment we

‘We are now looking to expand the area to a small archipelago which is far from

live in and, of course, ourselves.’ www.misoolecoresort.com

TOBIAS ZIMMER

A

ndrew Miners made his first


Staff rally to keep Blues on top

year, numbers are 50 per cent down in 2009. Blue Ventures’ managing director Richard Nimmo admitted that the company could

2

for Blue Ventures’ ecotourism

southwest coast. The African Development Bank agreed in

have been in trouble, if it weren’t for the

2008 to fund an extension of this network

fact that it was able to launch new projects

to take in most of the main fishing areas,

in Fiji and Malaysia. In Fiji, where there

an ambitious plan aiming to promote the

are conservation issues around fishing, it

sustainable development of marine fisheries

is attempting to replicate some of the work

along more than 300km of coast.

in Madagascar, while Malaysia is a ‘softer’ 008 was the best-ever year

threatened habitats along Madagascar’s

‘It’s our belief that by replicating our

ecotourism offering. ‘It saved our lives,

successful project we can have a postive

really,’ says Nimmo.

impact on other communities that are

In the six years since it launched in

marine resource dependent,’ says Nimmo,

volunteering venture in

Madagascar in 2003, Blue Ventures has won

adding that in the next six months Blue

Madagascar. This year is likely to

several major industry and environmental

Ventures will be launching a new site in

prizes and got the highly commended nod

Central America where marine resources

at the Responsible Tourism Awards on four

are being heavily exploited..

have been the toughest. Each year until now, around 170 paying volunteers from all over the world had

previous occasions – twice in the marine

The company has also launched its

headed out to Madagascar to get involved

category, and twice for its volunteering.

own carbon offset scheme for volunteers

in research and education initiatives, and

‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,’

and staff that invests in fuel-efficient and

all the profits from their expeditions have

says Nimmo, adding: ‘However we are

solar stoves for villages in the Velondriake

helped to fund vital community work,

pleased to get anything.’

network. These help reduce the need for fuel

including the development of alternative

Blue Ventures is one of the few

wood and charcoal by up to 70 per cent.

livelihoods, and a school scholarship

conservation groups conducting research

The project (www.bvco.org.uk) has been

programme and conservation and SCUBA

on Madagascar’s marine systems. Set up in

adopted by other organisations as their

training for Malagasy nationals.

the remote fishing village of Andavadoaka,

chosen offset scheme, and more than 120

the current Madagascar project has grown

stoves were distributed in 2008.

in the Foreign Office advising against

to encompass 23 neighbouring villages

www.blueventures.org

travel to the African island. Faced with

and the country’s Marine

no volunteers, Blue Ventures decided to

Science Institute to

suspend operations. To enable all local

develop a vast network of

employees to be kept on, staff at Blue

community-run protected

Ventures’ London office agreed to take a

areas called Velondriake, spanning more

pay cut. The political situation improved

than 800 sq km, benefiting more than

after May and operations were restarted

10,000 people and protecting coral reefs,

– but too late to make this another bumper

mangroves, seagrass beds and other

A peaceful coup last January resulted

HIGHLY COMMENDED Blue Ventures Expeditions, Madagascar, Fiji, Malaysia

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Since being highly commended for volunteering in 2008, Blue Ventures has embarked on new projects in both Malaysia and Fiji to train local communities as responsible dive guides, proving the replicable nature of their already successful Madagascar project. In the last 12 months they have distributed over 120 of their energy efficient stoves among local communities in Madagascar.’

r:travel | 37


Best in a marine environment Highly Commended

HIGHLY COMMENDED Camel Dive Club & Hotel, Egypt

Follow that Camel

T

wenty years ago Sharm El

national hotel developments. It

Shiekh in Egypt was a tiny

is one of the best diving centres in

Bedouin village and the

town. Its roof-top bar is packed with locals

tourist business was three tents

and travelling scuba divers. It runs the best

Staff explain rules about not touching coral

Indian restaurant this side of Mumbai.

or feeding fish. Instructors teach divers

offering scuba diving on some of the best coral reefs in the world – one of those was

Hesham’s dream to celebrate the wonders

buoyancy techniques that avoid damaging

Camel. Today it is a booming mass tourism

of the Red Sea has grown and grown but it

coral. And as a partner of Thomas Cook

destination and right at its heart is the

is still enthused by the same passion about

which sends 100,000 visitors a year to

same Camel still run by its founder Hesham

the fragile marine life and sheer beauty of

Sharm, Camel briefs all 60 of its company

Ghabr who dropped out of Cairo University

Egypt’s reefs that got him obsessed about

reps about spreading the word among all

all those years ago to follow his passion for

diving all those years ago.

its clients.

the marine world. It has grown into an elegant boutique hotel – an oasis surrounded by vast multi-

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Camel Dive Centre continues to maintain the standards of responsible diving in what has become a very popular and significant dive location. For 23 years this long-standing Egyptian family-owned company has worked closely with the local Bedouin and international regulatory bodies, NGOs and conservation organisations to offer high quality diving without the prevalent negative impacts on the area’s marine eco system.’

38 | r:travel

Today the problems are more complex

‘We see the benefits of these actions

and demanding and Camel is at the heart

daily as Sharm still possesses world-class

of finding solutions not just for its guests

dive sites despite the number of divers and

and divers but for everyone who visits

snorkelers who visit them,’ says Catherine

the region.

Bates, Eco Tribe Coordinator.

In August 2008 Camel launched a

It’s not just underwater that Camel is

campaign called Eco Tribe to bring together

doing its bit for responsible tourism. It

its various actions on the environment and

employs 400 staff, of whom 10 per cent

increase awareness of and encourage action

Bedouin and 70 per cent Egyptian, offering

within the company, guests, the wider

all of them free English classes. Moreover,

community and tour operators.

foreign staff are offered Arabic classes.

Sharm now attracts hundreds of

Camel’s environmental efforts have not

thousands of sun-seeking tourists, not

gone unnoticed. As well as this Responsible

just experienced divers. If not properly

Tourism Awards accolade, it has received

informed, the large number of people

an award from a local NGO, Clean Sharm

learning to dive and snorkel could

(Camel’s regular clean-up events stop

irrevocably damage the coral marine

around 300kg of mainly plastic rubbish

environment. With 10,000 guests a year,

from ending up in the sea every year).

Camel can go a long way to positively influence a major chunk of Sharm’s visitors.

www.cameldive.com


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The Rezidor Hotel Group has an award-winning comprehensive Responsible Business programme in place across its hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2001. The programme covers issues such as the health and well-being of guests and employees; resource efficiency relating to energy, water and waste; community outreach and charity. Please visit responsiblebusiness.rezidor.com or one of our 250 responsible hotels to learn more.

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Best for conservation of cultural heritage Winner

Every nomad has his day

WINNER Selena Travel LLC, Mongolia

A cultural revival is proving a big hit with visitors and locals alike

F

make rope. Another event is called Smiles

aims to keep alive the traditions of the

of Mongolia, a kind of beauty/talent contest

nomadic life and that’s a worthy goal in

for riding couples, and then there are the

this time of great change for the country.’

or two days each September the

Three Manly Games of Mongolia – archery,

steppes of Mongolia are alive

wrestling and horse racing. There’s even

reserve, the locals only lived on their

with the sound of nomads, in

a round called Metropolitan Guys, for

livestock, milk, cashmere, wool and meat.

what’s become an extraordinary

tourists to compete in, doing such things

It was not much for these families, so there

as disassembling a ger and making milky

was a gradual exodus from the countryside

tea. The evenings feature a wonderful folk

to the nearest towns. Now the reserve, and

revival of Mongolian nomad culture. The Nomads Day Festival, organised by

Before Gun-Galuut became a nature

in-bound Mongolian tour operator Selena Travel, brings local nomadic groups to the beautiful Gun-Galuut nature reserve in Bayanandelger Soum (county). In just five years, it has grown from a small local tourist event to a widely celebrated cultural festival.

‘In two days you get a great insight into the nomadic traditions and the locals have as good a time as the tourists’

The two-day festival begins with rival families competing to put up and take

festival and the festivities conclude with a

cultural tours – including the Nomads Day

down a ger (the Mongolian tent dwelling

gala dinner and bonfire.

Festival – are giving the local communities

made from canvas, felt and wooden poles),

One watching visitor commented: ‘In

and over the two days kids and adults play

two days you get a great insight into the

Selena Travel has worked hard to make

games, guys on horseback try to pick things

nomadic traditions and the locals have

Gun-Galuut a model of sustainable tourism,

off the ground at a gallop, and women

as good a time as the tourists. The festival

even supporting the locals to start their own

40 | r:travel

a chance to make an income from tourism.


SPONSORED BY:

The Jamaica Tourist Board

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

community association which can guard against the negative impacts of tourism. Mrs Nyamsuren Geserbadam, Selena’s managing director, says; ‘The locals are well aware that their nomadic culture is the only way they can benefit from tourism, so they

‘In 2004 Mongolian inbound operator Selena Travel worked with the nomadic community in Tuv to found and establish a nomadic cultural festival, recognised by the Mongolian Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism in 2007. In 2008 the festival attracted 300 locals, nearly double the local attendance in 2007 and 65 international visitors. The festival, which would not exist without tourism, fosters the local culture. Selena Travel has worked with the nomads to develop itineraries around Gun-Galuut making a significant difference to local livelihoods.’

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), founded in 1955, is Jamaica’s national tourism agency and is headquartered in the capital city of Kingston. The Jamaica Tourist Board is responsible for the worldwide marketing and promotion of the uniqueness and diversity of destination JAMAICA. The JTB’s mandate has been to promote Jamaica as a preferred travel destination; identify new and emerging consumer groups; cultivate new relationships with travel partners and disseminate timely and useful marketing information to its offices and travel partners worldwide. The JTB is the most preferred point of contact for people travelling to Jamaica. Throughout the years, the JTB has been recognised for its exceptional leadership and outstanding service with accolades from industry and trade partners both regionally and internationally. All of JTB’s programmes are based on the policies espoused in the ten-year Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development. One of the pillars of this Master Plan is the concept of responsible tourism and the JTB encourages every effort, whether domestic or international to get more tourism entities to function in a responsible fashion. Many of our own hotels and attractions have been recognized for their efforts in this regard. The JTB is proud to sponsor the Best for conservation of cultural heritage in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards. www.visitjamaica.com

appreciate nomadic culture.’ Selena Travel also employs many disadvantaged people, including people with disabilities, donates medical supplies to the

ecotourism destination in Mongolia, and a

local hospital and funds education materials

model of sustainable tourism development

for the school in Bayandelger Sound.

for the country,’ adds Mrs Geserbadam.

‘The company runs a variety of inbound tours, but ‘Gun-Galuut is the emerging

www.selenatravel.com

r:travel | 41


Best for conservation of cultural heritage Highly Commended

A river runs through it HIGHLY COMMENDED Rivers Fiji, Fiji

T

he thing about exploring wild

village) of Nakavika village. In developing

environment we share with tourists.

places is that if you are not

this trust, we engaged the village and elders

We have every intention of keeping the

careful the wildness is tainted by

in most if not all key decisions.

authenticity of our first experience on these

you just being there. Ecotourism

‘From the selection of guides, to the

rivers, and with these communities, as true

is about striking a balance, and in Fiji’s

building of trails, to the use of the village,

incomparable highlands, Rivers Fiji has been

the elders guided, consulted and directed

setting the standard for that balance.

us in how best to proceed. When people are

doing a river trip, but doing a river trip with

Since 1998 the company has been taking

as the day we first explored here. ‘We knew that success lay not in simply

empowered they are engaged, which has

Fijians, in a “Fijian” way, and protecting

travellers whitewater rafting on the Upper

ultimately led to one of the most authentic

the very place upon which we all depend.

Navua and the Wainikoriluiva River,

experiences available in Fiji. No one

There are plenty of river trips out there and

experiencing some of Fiji’s most spectacular

member within the village is putting on a

the best way to make ours special was not

terrain. On the Upper Navua, for example,

show, indeed the only show is good, clean,

to imitate someone else’s, but to make ours

hidden by an impenetrable rainforest, lies a

daily living, and a willingness on behalf

a truly Fijian experience.’

canyon nearly 12 kilometres long, and

of the community to share their lives with

at places over 50 metres high and

those that journey to see them. If the local

barely seven metres wide. It’s a place of

communities didn’t want us here we’d have

plummeting waterfalls, where bars of

no choice but to leave.’

sunlight illuminate moss-covered cliffs and

For all Rivers Fiji trips, each mataqali

strange geological formations watch over

and village receives $3 per client – and to

the visual treasures of an Eden untouched

date these fees have totalled more than

by man’s careless intrusions.

$550,000. Money received by the village

And it’s still there.

has been used for the good of the village.

From day one, Rivers Fiji have worked

In Nakavika for example, the fees have

with the local community, usually with

been used to pay for extra diesel to run the

nothing more than a handshake to bind

village generators, transportation during

them, to ensure that the needs and culture

special events and even funerals. On a

of the community never come second to the

more individual level the mataqali use the

enjoyment of tourists.

money collected to pay for their children’s

Steve Markle, Rivers Fiji’s marketing director, explains: ‘Our success and survival

school fees, or to buy clothing, food, or home improvements.

has always been solely based upon trust

Steve adds: ‘From the beginning we

and the symbiotic relationship between

measured success by our ability to adapt

Rivers Fiji and the people and mataqali

our business needs to the health and

(traditional family groups within the

happiness of the community and the

42 | r:travel

www.riversfiji.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Rivers Fiji has demarcated a protected zone within which the mataqali, the indigenous clans, will be able to continue to hunt and gather so long as they use traditional methods and only to support their families. Rivers Fiji works closely with the mataqali to enable them to engage in tourism as an additional livelihood opportunity so that they can maintain their traditional way of life. The mataqali have received $45,000 in lease payments for conservation of the land, and over $500,000 from Rivers Fiji in trip fees.’


JALORE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY INDIA India’s first and only privately owned wild life sanctuary

• CONSERVATION THROUGH RESPONSIBLE TOURISM • CONSERVATION THROUGH COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION • CONSERVATION THROUGH SUSTAINABLE RESEARCH

info@trueluxurytours.com • www.trueluxurytours.com


The day the killing stopped…

income from hunting to prop it up. Best of all, the wildlife now senses that the Selinda is a place of peace. Colin Bell, a Great Plains’ co-founder, argues that their kind of tourism model is the best available form of conservation. ‘For true conservation in its purest form,

Shooting pictures instead of guns has transformed tracts of Africa into havens for animals, not hunters

an area should be set aside with no people been startling. In northern Botswana, for

and no visitors at all,’ he says. ‘However,

example, up until 2005 the 320,000-acre

the reality in Africa is that any area with

Selinda Reserve was a dual-use hunting and

no people and no presence that was filled

photo safari reserve. Photo safari guests

with wildlife would be quickly discovered

ost travel companies

could be admiring a lion, leopard, elephant

by poachers and in no time the wildlife

practice some

or buffalo in the morning, and by late

populations would be decimated.

conservation. Great

afternoon the animal could have been shot

Plains, by contrast, is

by professional big game hunters. No one

people and an active presence to deter

primarily a conservation company that

will ever know how many animals died,

poachers and to ensure that neighbouring

practices some tourism – low-impact,

but wildlife numbers plummeted and the

communities earn their share from their

high-end tourism, designed to help make

gene pool shrank, almost to tipping point.

wildlife. The next best form of conservation

its conservation work more sustainable;

Wildlife was skittish and elusive.

therefore is to have a tourism model that

M

the greenest possible lodges, sound habitat

‘For areas to be protected, we do need

Everything changed when the Jouberts,

builds into its very core principles that at

practices and benefits passed directly to

five-time Emmy Award-winning filmmakers

every level ensure that the visitor impacts

neighbouring communities and families.

and their partners bought the Selinda. The

are the lowest possible – and that the

next day all hunting was stopped, wiping

benefits for wildlife and neighbouring

developing projects in Kenya, Rwanda,

$200,000 profit off the balance sheet

people are the highest possible.

Tanzania, Botswana, the Seychelles and

immediately. In its place came a new

‘This is what our tourism model is all

India – projects which its owners and

low-volume, high-tariff photo-safari

about. Our projects unashamedly have the

founders, Dereck and Beverley Joubert,

tourism model. By mid-2008 all the changes

lowest possible impacts in every possible

Colin Bell, Mark Reid and Paul Harris,

had been made: existing lodges upgraded

way – in the way the camps and lodges

hope in time will inspire others to emulate.

and refurbished, an old camp torn down

are designed and run and in the people

The impact of a group of passionate

and a new one built. The reserve is now

densities, as well as our overall carbon

and altruistic 50somethings has already

profitable and sustainable, without the

footprints. Zarafa camp has one of the

Formed in 2006, Great Plains has been

WINNER Great Plains Conservation, Africa

44 | r:travel


Winner Best for conservation of wildlife and habitats biggest solar farms anywhere in Africa, with

principle for a new 22,000-acre conservancy

they have gone to the low-impact extreme.

more than 150 solar panels.’

in the Amboseli region. These new

Only one group of guests – be it one person,

conservancies put more land under formal

or the maximum eight – is allowed onto the

impacts does translate into the fact that

protection while delivering guaranteed

entire 300,000 acre Lukula Reserve at any

visitors need to pay more. Yet, that does

rentals and improving the lives of

one time. Wildlife numbers are rising again

not mean it becomes unaffordable. ‘In

impoverished Maasai communities.

and Lukula is now a haven.

‘The privacy that arises from low

this day and age,’ says Colin, ‘we have to

A predator compensation scheme

In the Indian Ocean, the day Great

offer value for money otherwise we’d have

introduced by Great Plains has successfully

Plains bought its Seychelles project it

no customers. For instance, our four-day

stopped the annual slaughter of hundreds

banned all sport fishing around Alphonse

canoeing trail through the Selinda Reserve

of predators on 600,000 acres of community

and St Francis atolls, apart from strictly

retails at $1,300 per person – and that’s

land surrounding Amboseli.

limited catch-and-release fly-fishing. A

fully inclusive for the four days, even with

In Tanzania, after years of running

viable fishery with its biodiversity is now

drinks. Yet guests will travel 70km in canoes and not see another person while enjoying some of the most exhilarating wildlife

being protected.

‘For true conservation in its purest form, an area should be set aside with no people and no visitors at all. However the reality is that any such area would be quickly discovered by poachers and the wildlife populations would be decimated’

on earth.’ In Kenya, Great Plains is directly

In India, they are developing a project aimed at stopping the slaughter of tigers. ‘Indian bureaucracy is not to be taken lightly and we are under no

big-game hunting safaris, Ryan Wienand

illusions that this will take time,’ says Bell.

responsible for the creation of a new

and Anton Turner reflected on their lives,

80,000-acre conservancy adjoining the

their family hunting history and decided

we had a blank map of Africa and five

they had killed enough, realising too that

50-year-olds who wanted to create new

Mara, and has an agreement in

He adds: ‘When Great Plains was started,

the hunting lifestyle, while lucrative, was

projects in the conservation world that were

not sustainable. Wildlife numbers were

innovative and sustainable. We drew on our

declining and trophy sizes were smaller.

collective experiences to select and create

They turned their backs on their past

five sustainable and replicable projects that,

and teamed up with Great Plains to

when they came to fruition would allow us

create a new future for their 300,000-acre

to go to our graves with pride.’

private concession within the Selous Game Reserve, based around photo-safaris. And

www.greatplainsconservation.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Great Plains Conservation incorporates a range of innovative projects across five African countries. Their work in the Maasai Mara is particularly impressive, facilitating the creation of an 80,000-acre conservancy, and guaranteeing regular payment to the local communities for the use of their land for tourism purposes – regardless of the number of guests. On an unequivocal basis, they provide protected revenue for the indigenous peoples of the Mara, reducing the negative social and economic impacts of tourism.’

r:travel | 45


Best for conservation of wildlife and habitats Highly Commended

Forest arrangers

HIGHLY COMMENDED Way Out Experiences, Malaysia & Indonesia

T

en years ago, Guillaume

Orangutan Project, a holistic approach to

sustain it. Unfortunately deforestation is

Feldman, a young local

bringing back this endangered great ape

happening faster than reforestation.

government officer working for

from the brink of extinction. The work is

Harrow Council, gave his friend

on three fronts: helping in zoos in Kuala

benefit from WOX’s projects – the local

and colleague Afzaal Mauthoor a paper

Lumpur and Perak, Malaysia, working

communities are also helped. As Afzaal

napkin on which he’d drawn a forest. ‘One

in rehabilitation centres in Sarawak and

explains, ‘We believe that our conservation

day,’ he said, ‘I will design my own forest.’

Samboja Lestari, Indonesia, and observing

activities, although ultimately aimed at

orangutans in the wild and carrying out

increasing orangutan populations, should

reforestation work in Sabah, Borneo.

also improve the circumstances of human

Today, he’s doing just that, heading an environmental company that helps provide sustainable solutions to the problems faced

About 40 per cent of the price paid by

But it’s not just the orangutans that

communities living alongside. Engaging

by endangered species – and in particular

the volunteers goes directly towards

local people in wildlife management which

the orangutan – the ‘man of the forest’.

orangutan conservation.

they can benefit from economically creates

Way Out Experiences, the company

More than three-quarters of all

a win-win situation, whereby wildlife

formed in 2003, and run by Guillaume and

orangutans are found in Borneo, where it

is protected and community welfare is

Afzaal, brings together volunteers – mostly

is estimated that in just 20 years they will

improved. Put simply, make orangutan

gap-year students from the UK – to support

be wiped out from the wild – due in large

conservation so vital to local communities

a series of projects and partners, (including

part to the escalating pressures on their

in Borneo that they will protect and

governments, businesses, local communities

rainforest habitat. Each orangutan needs

nurture, rather than hunt and kill them.

and NGOs) participating in The Great

around 1,000 to 1,500 hectares of forest to

46 | r:travel

Potential volunteers hoping to cuddle


SPONSORED BY:

South Australian Tourism Commission

baby orangutans will be sorely disappointed – WOX’s idea of a hands-on experience does not mean handling the apes: this would not be in the animals’ best interest as, apart from the risk of transferring human diseases, if the orangutans get too used to humans it will hinder their ability to survive in the wild. ‘The volunteer projects have not been initiated solely for the benefit of travellers wishing to be close to wildlife; they are run as a means of generating both interest and vital funds for all our project sites,’ says Afzaal. However, the enthusiasm of volunteers rubs off on local communities where working with animals is traditionally seen as a lowly occupation. And this is why it’s all worthwhile: a recent success of the work at the flagship site, the Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, was the rehabilitation and release of three orangutans, including Chiam and her baby (pictured). ‘Subsequent sightings of Chiam and her baby swinging through the rainforest canopy have been the highlight of this year and all the past years of preparation,’ says Guillaume, proudly. www.orangutanproject.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Way Out Experiences dedicate 25 per cent of annual turnover directly to animal conservation and community development in Malaysia and Indonesia. Their Great Orangutan Project cares for 250 orangutans, and benefits the local community in Borneo by employing local guides, drivers, animal keepers and accommodation owners.’

The South Australian Tourism Commission is the official tourism organisation for the state of South Australia. We actively promote tourism to our destination in the UK and throughout the world, and endeavour to encourage environmentally responsible tourism experiences. South Australia is a premier wildlife destination boasting natural and geographical attractions, where you can see and experience wildlife in the wild. Destinations like Kangaroo Island, the Eyre Peninsula and the Flinders Ranges, including Wilpena Pound, are some of the key areas of South Australia that have an abundance of wildlife unique to Australia. Added to this we are home to real outback and unique ocean experiences, which means South Australia can offer the quintessential Aussie holiday experience which is much sought after the world over. The protection of South Australia’s flora and fauna is a key focus of the state government with key strategies in place such as the ‘No Species Loss’ Nature Conservation Strategy. This is a conservation strategy which began in 2007 and central to the aim is the concept of biodiversity and maintaining South Australia’s land, fresh water and marine ecosystems. The goals include maintaining healthy ecosystems, through community ownership & stewardship for biodiversity, ecological knowledge for decision makers and general public alike, understanding the impacts of climate change and adjusting our practices to minimise this. The South Australian Tourism Commission will continue to support and promote responsible tourism practices which conserve the natural attractions, which mean that South Australia can continue to offer such unique and amazing Australian wildlife and outback experiences to you. Why don’t you come and try for yourself? www.southaustralia.com

r:travel | 47


Best for conservation of wildlife and habitats Highly Commended

A lifeline for chimps HIGHLY COMMENDED Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Uganda ‘The illegal trade in the species, bush meat and habitat destruction will continue, rendering more chimpanzees orphans and homeless. This means we need to have more space for the orphaned chimpanzees. Ngamba Island is limited in space, its 100

I

acres can only accommodate so much rredeemably cute and clever,

(Australia), and it provides these orphaned

and right now we are almost to capacity.

chimpanzees are probably our

chimpanzees with a secure home to live

Without the sustainability of this project at

favourite ape, but in the wild they

out their lives, while educating visitors and

Ngamba it is a very big challenge to think

are under threat, their habitats

local communities about this remarkable

about setting up another sanctuary.’

eroded by the encroachment of man. Just off the shoreline of Lake Victoria in

Uganda, an hour’s drive from Entebbe, lies

species and the importance of conserving their fragile forest habitat. The sanctuary employs 23 full-time staff

The highlight of visits to Ngamba is viewing the chimps at close range at feeding times. Overnight visitors and the

Ngamba Island, a ‘100-acre wood’ that’s

who are all local Ugandans and tourism

volunteers who spend more time on the

been turned into a sanctuary for these

provides opportunities for income through

island, have the opportunity to work as

endangered creatures. Officially opened to

handicrafts and drama entertainments.

caregivers to the chimpanzees and this

visitors in October 1999, it is currently home

In 2007 CSWCT started a community

is an experience that gets the visitors in

to 40 orphaned chimpanzees, almost half

conservation and education programme

direct contact with the animals. ‘Most of

of which have been rescued and brought to

targeting the Bunyoro region in western

the overnight and long staying visitors say

the island since its opening.

Uganda, an area predominantly covered

the experience has been life-changing for

with fragmented private forests with

them,’ adds Lilly.

Its mission: to promote the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of

isolated chimp populations, with the aim

chimpanzees and their habitats in

of educating and involving local people

particular and of wildlife in general, and

in conservation activities. As a result

it does this with the help of funding from

the villagers are learning to live with

an extensive programme of day, short-term

chimpanzees, conflicts have decreased,

and long-term stays by visitors to Uganda.

reforestation is taking place and no chimps

Ngamba Island is a project of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT), established

have had to be rescued in this area since the programme began. But challenges remain. CSWCT’s

in 1997 by the Born Free Foundation

executive director Lilly Ajarova, explains:

(UK), the International Fund for Animal

‘As a charity organisation, our survival is

Welfare (USA), the Jane Goodall Institute

dependent on donations from well wishers,

(Germany and Uganda), The Uganda

with the tourism income contributing

Wildlife Education Centre Trust and the

about 50 per cent of the operating cost of

Zoological Board of New South Wales

the sanctuary.

48 | r:travel

www.ngambaisland.org

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘With an already difficult project in a difficult part of Africa, CSWCT set up a community conservation and education programme to demonstrate better conservation practices, reaching 24 primary schools and engaging 3,000 people in the local community, and incorporating a wildlife education centre and crosscultural education programme.’


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• Experience a holiday for the mind, body & soul in the ancient hilltop pedestrain village of Casperia (1hr from Rome) • Eco tourism living within a hilltop italian 13th century village and communtity, with Yoga classes daily, holistic workshops, treatments, sulfur water baths & hotsprings, mountain walks, cycling, horseriding, Italian cooking lessons, delicious italian cuisine, boutique design 13th century ensuite accommodation, a wide range of excursion & more.

For bookings and enquires please contact 0044 (0) 1273 782330 • 0044 (0) 116 259 9422 • 0039 339 70 43 595 • mail@sunÅowerretreats.com • www.sunÅowerretreats.com


WINNER Upland Escapes, UK

Escape committee walks the walk Weathering the recession without letting down the local communities who depended on them, prompted one UK operator to turn into No-Frills seekers

year – the town of Caramanico Terme in Italy’s Majella saw a 28 per cent increase

hen your whole business

happen. So in a calculated bid to keep the

in bookings, while Kobarid, in Slovenia’s

is built around helping

customers coming to the isolated mountain

Julian Alps doubled its Upland business.

remote rural communities

communities they support in France, Italy,

develop a sustainable

Slovenia and Gran Canaria, they developed

same income as from the guests of

lifestyle, a worldwide, credit-crunching,

a smart new offering: ‘No-Frills Escapes’.

high-priced holidays. No-Frills guests visited

bank-bubble-bursting recession can do

By cutting out some of the things that

the same mountain restaurants and other

more than damage your bottom line – it

put the holiday price up – such as daily,

local providers, so the spend in the region

can impact profoundly on the people whose

deli-style packed lunches and the services of

was no different. No Upland Managers

livelihoods depend on the visitors you bring

an Upland Manager as guide – and cutting

lost their jobs: they were still needed to

to their homes.

the price by around 30 per cent, they kept

look after guests on the higher-priced

their core offering attractive enough to keep

‘Original’ Escapes. No destinations were

specialising in walking holidays to rural

visitor numbers up and avoid leaving their

dropped – in fact Upland Escapes even

Europe, was determined not to let that

host communities high and dry. In fact,

managed to introduce two new regions

Upland Escapes, a tour operator

50 | r:travel

The accommodation providers got the

NIGEL TURLEY; DARREN KNIPE

W

several hostels and B&Bs enjoyed a bumper


Winner Best in a mountain environment UPLAND’S FOUR FOUNDING PRINCIPLES 1. To offer truly flexible walking for all. Providing our clients with all the advantages of a packaged holiday (expert planning and research, full support and advice etc), with no loss of independence (complete choice of what to do each day). 2. To offer holidays that refresh both the body and mind – with the freedom to choose the amount of activity, culture, and social interaction enjoyed. The only constants are the magnificent views: landscapes to make the soul sing. 3. To offer holidays that establish a connection between our clients and local ways of life. 4. To respect, maintain and connect with the environments in which we operate, and to have only a positive impact upon them. The principles of sustainable tourism and environmental awareness are fundamental to the Upland Escapes experience, without which we could not and would not exist.

way was a great relief. ‘We didn’t want these small mountain businesses to suffer,’ says Ed Granville. ‘We don’t want to be the sole provider – that would be unhealthy – but losing us would have meant them losing up to 50 per cent of their business. When it’s people’s homes and livelihoods at stake, that’s a real motivation to keep our numbers up.’ The trio founded Upland Escapes in 2005,

these regions we can help reverse this decline and bring new life and new

having all worked in the travel industry

prospects. We work with family-run

since 1994, wanting to offer the type of

enterprises and working farms to develop

holiday they felt passionate about: ‘walking

small-scale tourism, supporting traditional

to make your soul sing’. Since 2006, they’ve

lifestyles and contributing to the upkeep of

taken around 330 visitors a year (usually

the community.

no more than 12 in any one place at any one time, to avoid overcrowding). Upland escapers stay in a comfortable

‘We are very pleased that the inhabitants of the mountain regions where we operate do not generally consider themselves

room in a traditional upland hamlet,

disadvantaged. If anything, it’s quite the

village or town where traditional ways

opposite; many tell us how privileged they

of life are still being led. Guests can then

feel to live surrounded by fresh air, clean

– Austria’s Carinthian Alps, and for 2009’s

choose from a range of self-guided walks to

water and the mountains they love.’

‘staycationers’, Wales, where they launched

suit all fitness levels, from half-hour strolls

a ‘no cars’ option using just public

to full-day hikes – and between them the

transport, a formula they’ll be rolling out

directors have walked all the walks! You

in Italy in 2010. Upland now appealed to a

can also spend a day or two exploring

wider audience too: of their clients, 37 per

on bicycles instead of on foot, enjoy local

cent were No-Frills, and of these, 73 per cent

activities such as canoeing or horse-riding

were first-timers. For 2010, however, Upland

or explore in a hybrid hire car.

is bringing back the Upland Managers

‘All over Europe, rural populations are

for a mid-price ‘No-Frills Hosted’ option,

dwindling at an alarming rate as

believing their local knowledge can make

inhabitants reluctantly leave the rural

a huge difference to guests’ enjoyment of a

villages that they love, to find work in the

chosen area.

cities,’ says Laura Whinney. ‘Many villages

For Uplands founders and directors Laura

have become completely abandoned, but

Whinney, husband Dick Bayne and Ed

for others it is not too late. We hope that by

Granville, weathering the recession in this

bringing low-impact sustainable tourism to

www.uplandescapes.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Upland Escapes is leading the way with their ‘No-Frills Escapes’ – proof that it is possible to negotiate the effects of the economic downturn while still preserving the benefits of tourism to local communities. They have also achieved an increase of guests arriving by train, from just two per cent in 2006, to 19 per cent just three years later.’

r:travel | 51


WINNER Upland Escapes, UK

Escape committee walks the walk Weathering the recession without letting down the local communities who depended on them, prompted one UK operator to turn into No-Frills seekers

several hostels and B&Bs enjoyed a bumper year – the town of Caramanico Terme in Italy’s Majella saw a 28 per cent increase

happen. So in a calculated bid to keep the

in bookings, while Kobarid, in Slovenia’s

is built around helping

customers coming to the isolated mountain

Julian Alps doubled its Upland business.

remote rural communities

communities they support in France, Italy,

develop a sustainable

Slovenia and Gran Canaria, they developed

same income as from the guests of

lifestyle, a worldwide, credit-crunching,

a smart new offering: ‘No-Frills Escapes’.

high-priced holidays. No-Frills guests visited

bank-bubble-bursting recession can do

By cutting out some of the things that

the same mountain restaurants and other

more than damage your bottom line – it

put the holiday price up – such as daily,

local providers, so the spend in the region

can impact profoundly on the people whose

deli-style packed lunches and the services of

was no different. No Upland Managers

livelihoods depend on the visitors you bring

an Upland Manager as guide – and cutting

lost their jobs: they were still needed to

to their homes.

the price by around 30 per cent, they kept

look after guests on the higher-priced

their core offering attractive enough to keep

‘Original’ Escapes. No destinations were

specialising in walking holidays to rural

visitor numbers up and avoid leaving their

dropped – in fact Upland Escapes even

Europe, was determined not to let that

host communities high and dry. In fact,

managed to introduce two new regions

Upland Escapes, a tour operator

50 | r:travel

The accommodation providers got the

NIGEL TURLEY; DARREN KNIPE

W

hen your whole business


Winner Best in a mountain environment UPLAND’S FOUR FOUNDING PRINCIPLES 1. To offer truly flexible walking for all. Providing our clients with all the advantages of a packaged holiday (expert planning and research, full support and advice etc), with no loss of independence (complete choice of what to do each day). 2. To offer holidays that refresh both the body and mind – with the freedom to choose the amount of activity, culture, and social interaction enjoyed. The only constants are the magnificent views: landscapes to make the soul sing. 3. To offer holidays that establish a connection between our clients and local ways of life. 4. To respect, maintain and connect with the environments in which we operate, and to have only a positive impact upon them. The principles of sustainable tourism and environmental awareness are fundamental to the Upland Escapes experience, without which we could not and would not exist.

way was a great relief. ‘We didn’t want these small mountain businesses to suffer,’ says Ed Granville. ‘We don’t want to be the sole provider – that would be unhealthy – but losing us would have meant them losing up to 50 per cent of their business. When it’s people’s homes and livelihoods at stake, that’s a real motivation to keep our numbers up.’ The trio founded Upland Escapes in 2005,

these regions we can help reverse this decline and bring new life and new

having all worked in the travel industry

prospects. We work with family-run

since 1994, wanting to offer the type of

enterprises and working farms to develop

holiday they felt passionate about: ‘walking

small-scale tourism, supporting traditional

to make your soul sing’. Since 2006, they’ve

lifestyles and contributing to the upkeep of

taken around 330 visitors a year (usually

the community.

no more than 12 in any one place at any one time, to avoid overcrowding). Upland escapers stay in a comfortable

‘We are very pleased that the inhabitants of the mountain regions where we operate do not generally consider themselves

room in a traditional upland hamlet,

disadvantaged. If anything, it’s quite the

village or town where traditional ways

opposite; many tell us how privileged they

of life are still being led. Guests can then

feel to live surrounded by fresh air, clean

– Austria’s Carinthian Alps, and for 2009’s

choose from a range of self-guided walks to

water and the mountains they love.’

‘staycationers’, Wales, where they launched

suit all fitness levels, from half-hour strolls

a ‘no cars’ option using just public

to full-day hikes – and between them the

transport, a formula they’ll be rolling out

directors have walked all the walks! You

in Italy in 2010. Upland now appealed to a

can also spend a day or two exploring

wider audience too: of their clients, 37 per

on bicycles instead of on foot, enjoy local

cent were No-Frills, and of these, 73 per cent

activities such as canoeing or horse-riding

were first-timers. For 2010, however, Upland

or explore in a hybrid hire car.

is bringing back the Upland Managers

‘All over Europe, rural populations are

for a mid-price ‘No-Frills Hosted’ option,

dwindling at an alarming rate as

believing their local knowledge can make

inhabitants reluctantly leave the rural

a huge difference to guests’ enjoyment of a

villages that they love, to find work in the

chosen area.

cities,’ says Laura Whinney. ‘Many villages

For Uplands founders and directors Laura

have become completely abandoned, but

Whinney, husband Dick Bayne and Ed

for others it is not too late. We hope that by

Granville, weathering the recession in this

bringing low-impact sustainable tourism to

www.uplandescapes.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Upland Escapes is leading the way with their ‘No-Frills Escapes’ – proof that it is possible to negotiate the effects of the economic downturn while still preserving the benefits of tourism to local communities. They have also achieved an increase of guests arriving by train, from just two per cent in 2006, to 19 per cent just three years later.’

r:travel | 51


Best in a mountain environment Highly Commended

HIGHLY COMMENDED Wilderness Journeys, UK

Mountains’ natural environment is a vital source of water in the Samburu region. By replanting trees we are ultimately creating a more sustainable future.’

Wild at heart

Nearly all Wilderness Journeys’ 1,500 clients a year also contribute a conservation payment – £5 for Scottish holidays, and £15 for international – which supports specific conservation organisations.

A

wilderness journey that began

– including Alaska, Bhutan, South America,

nearly ten years ago in Kenya

India and parts of Europe – was the first to

Highly Commended accolade in the 2006

is seeing its conservation

bring tourism to the Leroghi.

Responsible Tourism Awards, was created

efforts culminate in the

planting of one million trees.

Over the years it has been the sole source

The company, which won a first

in 2000 by a small team of dedicated

of funding for a range of environment and

adventurers. It selects destinations where

education projects aimed at establishing a

it feels tourism can make a difference.

sustain the remote forest in the beautiful

link between tourism and the environment

For example, it runs a walking safari

Leroghi Mountains of northern Kenya, a

in the minds of local people and helping to

in Namibia, tracking desert rhino, in

vital dry season grazing resource for the

reverse deforestation in the remote region.

conjunction with the Save the Rhino Trust.

local Samburu people, and a critically

An environmental education centre has

A wildlife safari in Malawi’s Liwonde

endangered forested mountain range.

been built at the base of the mountains,

National Park helps support a visionary

and the tree-planting programme set up

initiative called Children in the Wilderness,

and ecotourism company specialising

between the company’s UK-based charity

where for several weeks each year the Muvu

in trips to the planet’s wilder regions

arm, the Wilderness Foundation and the

camp is closed and local schoolchildren

Green Belt Movement, a Kenyan charity

come to learn about wildlife, conservation

devoted to reforesting the country.

and sustainable living.

This ambitious project will help to

Wilderness Journeys, an adventure travel

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Wilderness Journeys were Highly Commended in 2006 for the work in Scotland. This award recognises their development of a sustainability rating scheme, their contribution in Kenya and the introduction of their conservation contribution payment scheme. With an uptake of over 80 per cent, the scheme offers travellers the chance to donate over and above their holiday costs, a figure which is then matched by Wilderness Journeys and donated to local conservation schemes.’

52 | r:travel

Wilderness Journeys marketing assistant

‘We firmly believe that tourism can be

Polly McClure, explains: ‘Kenya’s economy,

a tremendous force for the conservation

agriculture and tourism are suffering

of wild nature and to support remote

enormously at the moment. Coupled with

communities,’ adds Polly. ‘The local

the worst drought in a decade, the country

people are the custodians of many of the

is facing turmoil from all directions. More

Earth’s wild places. Through benefiting

now than ever tourism is important not

from tourism they will increasingly value

only to the economy, to Kenyans, but to

their wildlife and forests and have clear

wildlife and conservation. We hope that by

motivation to protect their natural heritage.

bringing people to Kenya, our visitors can

‘We have found that wild places such as

appreciate how fragile the environment is

Kenya, the Galapagos and Patagonia have

and how tourism is a lifeline for so many

an inherent ability to educate, inspire and

communities and conservation initiatives.

foster feelings of importance and respect.’

‘The tree-planting commitment is extremely important; the Leroghi

www.wildernessjourneys.com


Dome sweet dome luxuries: hairdryers are not allowed and there’s no internet access. The Ecocamp, completed in January 2000, was conceived and engineered as an example of sustainable practices in wilderness areas. ‘We hoped to inspire and motivate not only travellers but also the tourism industry towards the possibilities of lodging in wilderness areas with minimal

HIGHLY COMMENDED

human impact,’ says Daniel Sanhueza

Ecocamp Patagonia, Chile

Lira, communications manager. And they have. Since its creation, nine other projects have imitated its design.

T

he attraction of remote

The Ecocamp is a tribute to the lifestyle

wilderness areas is obvious: a

of the Kawesqar – ancient nomadic natives

chance to experience nature in

who once inhabited this part of Patagonia.

its purest form, unadulterated by

The Kawesqar built their huts on a geodesic

the trappings of modern urban life. And the

shape bending branches and covering the

last thing you’d want to see in a beautiful,

structure with guanaco and sea lion skins.

unspoilt setting would be an intrusive brick

The Ecocamp is also totally portable – it

and concrete hotel. But sometimes, a tent

was moved to a new location in 2005 at

just doesn’t have the comforts you want.

the heart of this spectacular region. From

Ecocamp Patagonia, in Chile’s Torres

here you can hike and ride to see flora and

del Paine National Park, offers the perfect

fauna of the area and generally soak up

compromise between hotel accommodation

the wilderness. ‘You can explore and trek

and camping – for around $1,800 for a

in virgin beech forests; admire colossal

seven-day stay.

calving glaciers; think and wonder about

It’s a collection of eco-friendly domes

humankind while standing in silence at the

that give up to 44 guests direct access to

foot of towering granite peaks,’ adds Daniel.

forests, glaciers and mountains. Visitors – most from the US, UK, Australia, Canada,

www.ecocamp.travel

Germany, Japan and Brazil – stay in their own dome made of organic materials found on site such as wood, furs and leathers. Each room consists of an open-plan, movable geodesic dome, private bathroom with composting toilets, comfortable bed, modern low-emission wood stove, micro hydro turbine, and solar panels, allowing each couple to live among breathtaking scenery in full comfort without disturbing LUIS HERNÁN HERREROS

nature’s delicate balance. There are also communal domes, including a place to eat. The camp only uses natural and renewable sources such as water, wind and solar power. But beware, guests must give up some contemporary

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Ecocamp Patagonia sits at the cutting edge of environmental practice with the design and creation of their innovative four-star geodesic dome tented hotel; a 99 per cent portable hotel that can be dismantled and removed without leaving a trace. Their Environmental Management System is comprehensive – incorporating a range of practices from hydroelectric turbines and wind generators, to composting devices and solar panels.’

SPONSORED BY:

World Expeditions Since our Nepalese operations opened in 1975, World Expeditions has pioneered sustainable and responsible travel adventures to the Himalaya and the world’s most remote and pristine mountain regions. Today, our passion for the mountains, and giving back to the people who live there, is stronger than ever, and is core to our commitment to responsible travel. World Expeditions set the industry benchmark for our porter protection practices. By supporting this category, we hope to raise awareness among travellers and operators of the importance of caring for our mountain environment and the people who work there. Caring for our mountain porters is just as important to us as caring for our travellers. Our not-for-profit Community Project Travel programme began in 2005 on the ethos of ‘travel with a purpose’. Examples of what our travellers have achieved include: Nepal – refurbished three schools; Arnhem, Australia – collected more than ten tons of ghost nets from Arnhem Land coastline; Peru - provided safe drinking water and a footbridge for the village of Qelqanqa, so kids can safely get to school. * World Expeditions actively supports and practises the work of the International Porters Protection Group, Porters’ Progress UK and International Mountain Explorers Connection * Active supporter of the Himalayan Trust * Our Responsible Travel Guidebook was recognised by the National Travel Industry as a benchmark document for travellers, and was awarded the 2001 WWF/Australian National Travel Industry’s Environmental Achievement Award * Excellence in Adventure Tourism Award from the Government of India * 2008 Responsible Travel and Tourism Forum Award in Canada www.worldexpeditions.co.uk

r:travel | 53


Best large accomodation Winner

Hostel sends the rest packing

landfill, we became financially sustainable. It was just the smart business option.’ YHA Wellington has won the Trailblazer accolade in New Zealand’s Sustainable Business Network awards for the past three years in a row. But its commitment to sustainability goes back 15 years – to the last global warming agreement at Kyoto.

A ‘humble’ backpackers hostel in Wellington has emerged head and shoulders above its rivals when it comes to responsible tourism – both the practice of it and the award

‘I

Hostelling International declared its attention to plant a flag in the ground in the name of sustainable tourism, and work began to green up operations. In

t still bowls me over when

before responsible tourism got a strong

recent years that focus has increased to

people ask us, “Why do you

foothold in the industry.

the point where it underscores everything

do all this responsible tourism stuff?” Especially nowadays. I

He continues: ‘It gives us a point of

the hostel does. Now YHA is held up as an

difference in a lot of our markets, so people

‘exemplar” for New Zealand, which itself

see us in an ethical context. And, simply,

won Best Destination and Overall Winner

it saves us money. As a not-for-profit

in last year’s Responsible Tourism Awards.

YHA hostel in this vibrant city on the

organisation we had a need to control our

It was also the first backpacker hostel to

southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island,

costs. Through responsible tourism, and its

be awarded the prestigious Enviro Gold

is explaining how his backpackers’ haven

focus on reducing usage of water, electricity

got to be a pinnacle of sustainability, even

and gas, recycling and reducing waste to

mean, it’s a no-brainer.’ Chris Sperring, area manager for the

WINNER YHA Wellington City, New Zealand

54 | r:travel


Qualmark rating. ‘It’s been a really cool experience,’ admits Sperring, a Somerset, England-born

just a bed to our guests and more than just

SPONSORED BY:

a job to our staff.’

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

The hostel organises carpools,

man who has been with the YHA in New

encourages staff to travel on public

Zealand for 12 years.

transport or walk, and stages special cycle

YHA Wellington is ultra-clean, modern,

days, where staff cycle to work. A Green

bright, fun and friendly, with a wide range

Footprint plan is running which includes

of comfortable accommodation from

regular tree-planting days.

spacious four-share ensuite rooms to deluxe

Some 70 per cent of guests over the

private ensuite rooms. Responsible tourism

summer period are international. And those

begins here with the staff at the recruitment

from Europe have seen YHA Wellington

stage and involves them and the guests in

as a pioneer for responsible tourism. Says

spreading the word on best practice.

Sperring: ‘Going back about five years, the

‘Responsible tourism isn’t just an add

majority coming from the UK and Europe

on for us – its integral to what we do,’ says

were further down the journey than most of

Sperring. ‘We believe that we are more than

New Zealand, apart from ourselves. They’d say: “Wow, you guys recycle. We haven’t been to any other place in New Zealand

SPECIAL features at YHA Wellington

– including hotels – where they recycle.” So

City that backpackers love:

we caught on that we were pretty special,

• Affordable meal nights and free

though we also got that in terms of quality

bagel breakfast on Mondays. • Supermarket over the road from the hostel (open until midnight). • Two superbly equipped kitchen

or product, New Zealand is far above the standard of accommodation in Europe.’ Sperring reveals that it’s not necessarily the very young who make the best

and dining areas and many

ambassadors for what they do. Despite

comfortable lounges.

hosting more than 12,500 schoolchildren a

• TV lounge with projector and free movie hire. • Internet lounge with Skype and printing facilities. WiFi access also available.

year, they find that those in the 25-40 age bracket are more in tune with the fact that climate change is an issue. ‘They still want to make a real difference,’ says Sperring.

• Bicycle hire for exploring the many sights of Wellington.

www.yha.co.nz

Top activities to do while backpacking in Wellington: • Visit Te Papa national museum on the refurbished Wellington waterfront to learn all about Maori and New Zealand arts and culture. • Take a Lord of the Rings tour – either to the studio or to one of the many locations in and around Wellington. • Discover some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife at Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, Wellington’s award-winning conservation safe haven. • Take a ride on the cable car for amazing views over Wellington Harbour.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘With a host of innovative initiatives in place YHA Wellington goes above and beyond regular hotel practice to engage and communicate with their guests around issues of sustainability in an upbeat and inspiring way, putting the onus back on the guest to exercise, and even enjoy, responsible practices. Their Green Footprint Project includes a ‘Tree Planting Day’ for guests, they invite school groups to take part in a sustainable living quiz, and host the annual National Youth Environment Forum.’

A leader in the global hospitality industry, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is an extraordinary collection of luxury hotels, which includes iconic landmarks like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec City, Fairmont The Norfolk, Nairobi and London’s The Savoy, reopening in 2009. Fairmont hotels are one-of-a-kind properties where sophisticated travellers can discover culturally rich experiences that are authentic to the destination. Situated in some of the most exclusive and pristine areas in the world, Fairmont’s portfolio includes 56 distinctive hotels. Fairmont is owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, a leading global hotel company with 91 hotels worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts was founded on an enduring connection to the land and communities where we do business. In 1990, our Canadian hotels pioneered the Green Partnership program—a comprehensive commitment to minimising our hotels’ impact on the planet, which was accompanied by a guidebook on sustainable best practices in the lodging industry. This green philosophy has grown to become a core value of our company. Beyond highlighting our commitment to the environment, sponsoring these awards is a powerful example of the green revolution that is transforming global business, with one overriding goal: to be good corporate citizens who strive to conduct daily business in a sustainable and respectful manner. It is only by living this promise that we will protect the environment and strive towards sustainable tourism and responsible travel practices. We’re truly excited to share the support of so many other industry leaders in encouraging everyone to choose wisely, live respectfully and travel responsibly. www.fairmont.com

r:travel | 55


WINNER Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge, Laos

Putting nature first No trees were harmed in the making of this ecotourism paradise

such as restaurant, adventure playground, internet café and floating swimming pool. Guests are also encouraged to buy local

B

uilding an ecolodge in the

handicrafts, eat local food, participate in

middle of dense forest would

local ceremonies, try their hand at Lao

seem to defeat the object of

cooking, sample a Lao massage and watch

conservation. How much forest

traditional song and dance performances

has to make way for the buildings?

Rivertime practises the three ‘r’s: reduce,

Ecolodge, 29 kilometres north-east of the

re-use and recycle; organic waste from the

Laos capital Vientiane, nature came first.

restaurant and kitchen is used as a natural

Not a single tree was cut down during the

fertiliser for the organic vegetable garden.

resort construction three years ago and

Some 70-80 per cent of food supplies travel

the dense undergrowth, which provides a

less than three kilometres to get to the table.

natural habitat for wildlife, continues to

And the resort is a haven for wildlife:

thrive despite the presence of the resort

daily walks reveal a wide variety of trees,

buildings – and the guests.

plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds

The resort has just 12 lodges – though

56 | r:travel

by minority ethnic (Hmong) performers.

In the case of the Rivertime Resort and

and butterflies. Of the resort’s 18,000 sq m,

there are plans to expand to 20. Still,

only 900 (five per cent) has been used for

this is hardly overcrowding. Rivertime

buildings and for the footpaths which wind

specialises in nature-based activities and

through the forest.

meeting the locals. Guests are taken on

Unusually, Rivertime markets itself

guided tours of nearby villages and can

internationally almost exclusively to

learn about villagers’ lives. In return, local

businesses, organisations and individuals

people are able to use the resort facilities

who are socially and environmentally


Winner Best small accomodation SPONSORED BY:

Discover Dominica Tourism Authority

A DAY IN THE LIFE A day at Rivertime begins with a European or Asian breakfast on the floating restaurant on the Nam Ngum river as you watch the sun come up over the Phou Khao Kwai mountains in the east. Unless you decide to just sit and watch the river flow you can explore it by boat or kayak, visit a traditional local healer, tour a local temple and the Hmong market, visit a weaving village or even the local primary school. With one or two day’s notice you could even participate in the resort’s rice farming experience organised in local rice fields and the local agricultural research centre by Englishspeaking Lao agricultural scientists. A traditional Lao massage from elderly ladies from the local village gives you a huge sense of well-being and puts some extra income into their

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge established themselves in what was, once again, an incredibly competitive category this year. The “Agreement of Cooperation” between the Lodge and the three local villages is a real rarity in this sector – a contract that sets out the rights and responsibilities of the company to maximising benefits for the local community, making contractual obligations of key responsible tourism principles.’

pockets. You can also use the resort’s bicycles to explore the local area. In the evening, you return to the floating restaurant. Barbequed fish and sticky rice seems to be the

hear only the sounds of the surrounding

favoured cuisine among the locals

forest: the chirping of crickets in the trees,

here. Then, a couple of beers or glasses

the unique sound of Lao frogs, the scurrying

of wine as you sit on the balcony of the

of small mammals and the wind brushing

lodge and watch a beautiful sunset as

through the trees. In the morning, you

the sun drops down below the river.

wake up to almost total silence; all the night-time forest life is now sleeping and only the birds are awake. All around the

responsible. This is done through links with

resort lodges there is only silence: no cars,

ethical websites and even NGOs, such as

no motorbikes, no moving machines of

Care, Oxfam and the Red Cross. The resort

any kind. However, this is the time when

also developed and produced a four-year

the area’s butterflies start to appear. There

English language curriculum for rural Lao

are dozens of varieties here, including

children. In addition, all staff are from the

the enormous bird-wing butterfly whose

local community and are paid up to 50 per

wingspan can be 20 centimetres across!

cent more than by comparable hotels.

Awe-inspiring!

If it sounds idyllic, it is. At night, you

Dominica - the ‘Nature Island’ boasts a lush and rugged landscape of pristine rainforests, soaring peaks, countless rivers and waterfalls, hot sulphur springs and secluded beaches. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is said to be the only Caribbean island Christopher Columbus would recognise today. The island remains relatively unspoilt, with no international chain hotels or large resorts. Most accommodation is Dominican-owned or run, supporting the island’s economy and providing jobs and skills training for local people. It is for this reason the tourism authority is proud to support the small accommodation category in the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards. Dominica has a long-standing commitment to sustainable tourism for which island businesses and the country as a whole have received various accolades and distinctions. Dominica was the first country in the world to be benchmarked by Green Globe, the worldwide certification programme for the travel and tourism industry; and is home to the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean – Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Widely recognised by scuba divers for the quality of its marine life, Dominica has established three marine reserves along its west coast to preserve and protect its underwater environment. www.discoverdominica.com

www.rivertimelaos.com

r:travel | 57


Best small accomodation Highly Commended HIGHLY COMMENDED

B&B came first, and gradually,

Beechenhill Farm, UK

over the years, the cottages, too, were converted for guests. In 1998 the farm went organic

and in 2001, with the help of the Peak District National Park Authority, Sue started a project to create a local food economy built around tourism. Finding it hard to get impartial advice about the greening of farming and tourism they, in conjunction with another farm, started the Pilot Light Demonstration project – to help others do the same. ‘We see our tourism business as an opportunity to bring outside money into our community as well as sustaining our lives at Beechenhill,’ says Sue. ‘Our local community has been incredible. I believe passionately in the potential of people and am delighted to work on projects which build the self-esteem and confidence of people who have not always had great opportunities in the past. The community has supported and got involved with many of our projects, because they are their projects, too! The Princes also see bringing guests to

Opening up a way of life

I

a working farm as a unique opportunity to educate other people about the rural way coming soon, their own cheese. The other

of life. ‘It’s a chance for us farmers to show

half now comes mostly from tourism, from

how important our relationship is with the

the two en suite B&B rooms, the two self-

countryside, landscape and soil. Tourism,

catering cottages – one with full wheelchair

done responsibly, can help farming to be

f you stand at the door of

access – which bring in around 700 visitors

more profitable because we, the rural ten

Beechenhill Farm in the Peak

a year, to a restored haybarn used for

per cent, have desirable things that the

District and look out over the

eco-weddings, a sideline which has become

urban 90 per cent no longer have – space,

country garden, you’ll see colourful

totally integrated into the local community.

green, peace, a connection to the earth.’

chickens pecking around, a dozing

Up to 100 guests can be accommodated

tortoiseshell cat, and a grubby Collie being

in other tiny B&Bs and cottages within a

mildly tormented by a squirming Jack

three-mile radius, and all wedding services

Russell puppy. On the left lie the tree-topped

are sourced locally, including photographer

bare slopes of Bunster Hill, like a lumpy

and florist. And there’s even a locally-brewed

shoulder whose outstretched arm descends

organic lager to toast the happy couple with.

into the village of Ilam. Straight ahead the

Sue and Terry bought Beechenhill in

view rolls out over meadows, hedges and

1984 having lived on Terry’s family farm

hills to the distant horizon of Leicestershire.

near Uttoxeter since getting married seven

This little piece of English paradise is

years before. When the EU introduced

Beechenhill Farm, a working organic dairy

milk quotas, scuppering their plans to

farm in the Peak District National Park, run

pay the mortgage with increased milk

by Sue and Terry Prince since 1985. Fifty

production, the couple decided to use their

per cent of their income comes from the

glorious environment, their skills and

farm produce – including eggs, lamb and,

accommodation to go into tourism. The

58 | r:travel

www.beechenhill.co.uk

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Beechenhill Farm has had a great impact on the local economy in the Peak District National Park, particularly with their eco-wedding weekends, providing a unique way of bringing together everything from locally sourced food, entertainment, culture and transport to accommodating wedding guests in local hotels and cottages.’


Balamku is a new concept of hotel in the Costa Maya region, one of Mexico’s hidden treasures

http://www.balamku.com/about/ 00-52-983-839-5332 information@balamku.com

Fuegoblanco

Ecolodge in Andalucia

• Six ensuite bedrooms, gardens and pool • Set in organic orchards with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and specialising in delicious Äsh and vegetarian food. • 40 minutes Malaga airport

www.fuegoblanco.com • Tel +34 952 497 439


Best small accomodation Highly Commended HIGHLY COMMENDED

The lodge consists of

Napo Wildlife Center, Ecuador

12 luxury cabañas and a large dining hall with a library and a well-stocked

bar. Attached to the bar is a 50-foot viewing tower from where on a clear day you can see the Andes! Another 120-foot canopy tower deep in the forest allows you to experience the life above the forest floor. Napo successfully implemented environmentally friendly practices which have been recognised as the best example of community tourism in the country and have also won important international awards, including for the high standards of service and quality. It’s a nature-lovers paradise. Over 562

‘A workshop of cultural recovery’

species of birds have been recorded at the Napo Wildlife Center, more than a third of all of Ecuador’s birds. Napo also supports a ten-year wildlife survey, using 25 heat and motion sensitive cameras strategically situated in the reserve to record the movements of animals such

I

n the early 1990s, Kichwa Anangu

and personalised rainforest experience,

as ocelots, pumas, jaguars, coatis, tapirs,

community in the heart of the

intimate with nature, under a dedicated

peccaries, porcupines, rodents, pigeons,

Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest,

private and unique lodge, but only to

tinamous, hawks and more.

was under siege from irresponsible

a selected number of guests. Finally, in

Zoila Martinez, markeing managing at

logging and oil extraction that was

2000, after help from several local and

Napo describes the lodge as ‘a workshop

destroying their forests.

international contacts, the project was able

of cultural recovery’, and a visit here as ‘a

to move forward.

cultural exchange’.

Community members concluded that an eco-lodge could provide jobs, while

The community, entitled by its

‘Tourism allows the community to

conserving their land. The Napo Wildlife

constitutional rights over its land,

preserve their proud traditions, and the

Center, is the realisation of that dream. The

approached the Ecuadorian Ministry of

income gives community members access to

project also includes the conservation of

Environment which through its National

health services, education and better living

around 82 square miles of pristine Amazon

Park service declared them honorific park

conditions,’ she added.

rainforest within the Yasunì National Park,

rangers and approved the project signing

www.napowildlifecenter.com

an important UNESCO biosphere reserve

a renewable management agreement of

and the largest tract of tropical rainforest

this territory part as well of the Yasuní

in Ecuador.

Biosphere Reserve.

The lodge complex is located by the

Anangu manpower, supported by the

Anangucocha lake, within the unique

best technical assistance, and financed

ancestral territory of the Anangu Quichua

with donations in partnership with the

Community, but the dream came with

independent Ecuadorian non profit

many challenges. With great effort the

conservation organisation, EcoEcuador,

community built four well established

Napo Wildlife Centre was completed

shelters and a large house for a kitchen

in 2003.

and dining room. But they ran out of funds

In January 2007 a process started to

and the buildings remained incomplete for

transfer the entire lodge to the community’s

many years.

hands, and from that June Napo

They wanted high quality facilities and accommodation, to provide an exclusive

60 | r:travel

Wildlife Center became 100 per cent community owned.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Since winning a Responsible Tourism Award in 2006, the Napo Wildlife Center is now 100 per cent owned by the Kichwa community of Añangu. This community-owned and operated business enables the Kichwa community to preserve and share their indigenous way of life with travellers, and to distribute all revenue to local communitybased projects.’


ES

BL

boon lottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elephant sanctuary Holidays with a Difference, that Make a Difference

www.blesele.org Contact - www.natureandkind.com â&#x20AC;˘ tel: 0845 362 0300

Come and visit BLES, a small and peaceful home for rescued elephants in Thailand.


Best low carbon transport and technology Winner

WINNER Alcatraz Cruises, USA

Escape to Alcatraz

A

lcatraz and history go hand in hand. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, the

federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique

Annual fuel savings will be upwards of 29,000 gallons – the equivalent of taking 58 cars off the road for good. It uses just 5.8 gallons of diesel fuel per hour compared to 30 gallons for a conventional ferry boat. That’s an 80 per cent saving.

to the famous rock in San Francisco Bay. The presence of infamous inmates like Al

achievement many years in the making.

of taking 58 cars off the road for good. It

Capone, and the ‘Birdman’ Robert Stroud

For hundreds of years the wind powered

uses just 5.8 gallons of diesel fuel per hour

helped to establish the island’s notoriety.

water transportation, then petrol-powered

compared to 30 gallons for a conventional

To this day, Alcatraz is best known as one

engines made operations more efficient.

ferry boat. That’s an 80 per cent saving.

of the world’s most legendary prisons, from

Hornblower Hybrid has combined those two

which no inmate ever escaped.

power sources, and harnessed the sun, to

Even just building it was an innovation as the boat is a recycled dive vessel!

create the nation’s first hybrid ferry boat.

Alcatraz Cruises used the Hybrid

of a different, 21st century kind. For the

It is powered largely by solar panels, wind

to spread the word about low-carbon

1.4 million visitors being carried to and

turbines, and grid electricity. Instead of

technology through its regular trips and

from the Rock this year by ferry company

idling at the dock or burning diesel to keep

educational cruises. It’s also installed the

Alcatraz Cruises – part of the Hornblower

the lights on (a standard practice in the

most fuel-efficient low emission engines

group – are escaping from a high-carbon

industry), the Hybrid switches from diesel

available in the rest of its fleet, to further

past, as they relax aboard America’s first

power to battery mode to save fuel and

reduce its environmental impact.

hybrid ferry, the 64-foot, eco-friendly

reduce emissions.

But today Alcatraz is making history

Hornblower Hybrid. Brought into service in December 2008, this remarkable vessel is a technological

62 | r:travel

The evidence for its success is in the

It’s not just in the technology that Alcatraz Cruises is setting new standards.

numbers: annual fuel savings will be

Through its Respect Our Planet programme,

upwards of 29,000 gallons – the equivalent

it is educating customers and staff on ways


SPONSORED BY:

Quito Visitors’ Bureau

lives. We’re also continuing to build boats of being environmentally conscious. It holds

that reduce our impact on the environment.

regular Environmental Days when it invites

Indeed, we are currently developing new

local providers of eco-friendly products and

technology and programmes in New York,

services to showcase their wares to visitors

including a zero-emission fuel cell boat

and San Francisco residents.

to take passengers to the Statue of Liberty

Most people, while familiar with the

in 2010.’

notorious past of the Rock, are unaware of the wealth of other stories to be learned

www.alcatrazcruises.com/hybrid

on the island. Alcatraz is now home to rare flowers and plants, marine wildlife, and thousands of roosting and nesting sea birds. Alcatraz Cruises is also committed to conserving the biodiversity of the bay through its corporate volunteer programme, which includes beach clean-ups and watershed restoration projects. Molly Alliman, Alcatraz Cruises’ environmental manager, says: ‘We have established a clear vision for the future of our company and embrace the idea of what it means to truly be a sustainable company. Our mission is to promote responsible tourism and encourage people on ways to be environmentally responsible in their own

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘While the Hornblower Hybrid provides a convincing flagship vessel for Alcatraz Cruises’ innovative approach to sustainable tourism practices, it is their commitment to the reduction of carbon use across the rest of their product range, decreasing particulate and NOx emissions by 95 per cent with the installation of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) units, that proves their commitment to minimising their environmental impacts.’

The Quito Visitors’ Bureau develops and promotes tourism in the capital of Ecuador. We are responsible for working with the local tourism businesses in the city as well as promoting destination Quito on the international stage. As such we are in a unique position of both developing and encouraging sustainable strategies, and making the travel industry and end-consumers aware of them. As one of the Municipality of Quito’s many organisations, we are proud to present the work the authorities have carried out in many areas of the city over the past decade. Quito has invested more than any other Latin American capital in cultural heritage safeguarding, investing some half-a-billion dollars since 2001. The restoration and regeneration of the historic centre – Quito was the first city to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 – has generated investment in tourism infrastructure, and media interest abroad. The development of tourism in the historic centre is set on a sustainable course, and it’s the ideal place to explore by foot with no transport involved. The city of Quito has also worked hard over the last decade on expanding and improving its public spaces and parks. The capital now boasts one of the highest per-capita ratios of open space to inhabitant on the continent, and has planted tens of thousands of native trees. The Bureau actively promotes these areas, and places like the Botanical Gardens, as well as the opportunities for sports in the city – such as the weekly ‘Cycle Sundays’, when 20 miles of roads across the capital are closed to traffic with some 30,000 people participating. Internally, the Visitors’ Bureau is currently implementing a ‘zero-paper’ strategy, with all of the capital’s 3,000 tourism establishments audited through software on mobile phones, as opposed to paper, in 2009 and in the future. www.quito.com.ec

r:travel | 63


HIGHLY COMMENDED Seat61.com, UK Do you have a favourite train ride? I have so many! Zermatt to St Moritz on the Glacier Express, Auckland to Wellington on the wonderful ‘Overlander’, and Chicago to San Francisco on Amtrak’s amazing ‘California Zephyr’. But the best trip is much closer to home: London to Fort William on the overnight ‘Caledonian Sleeper’. A cosy private room with beds,

Taking the strain out of the train

a lounge car with leather sofas and steward service for haggis, tattties and neeps plus a wee dram in the evening, then lifting the blind next morning to see deer bounding away across the Highland scenery. What more could you

A

ask? It’s yours for as little as £59... ir travel is the fastest-growing contributor to global warming.

travel, it makes the journey part of the

But if we want people to cut

holiday, and it places the destination in

On the contrary, taking the family to

down on their flying, we need

Ever been forced to catch a plane?

context. It’s a more practical proposition

Andalusia for a week one Christmas, our

to offer them a safe, comfortable and

than most people imagine, even for

Eurostar left London spot on time to connect

affordable alternative. Trains and ferries

journeys to Spain, Italy or Greece. And

with the excellent Spanish ‘trainhotel’ to

often provide just such an alternative,

worldwide, train journeys in countries

Madrid, with its elegant restaurant car for

but finding out how to use them has

such as India, the USA or Vietnam reflect

dinner and cosy private sleeper with en

been shrouded in a fog of impenetrable

the culture of the country itself and they

suite shower. At the time we left, Heathrow

timetables and fares.

become part of the experience – a flight

was closed because of fog and all European

doesn’t. However, finding out about train

flights were cancelled. It was still closed

Founded as a hobby by Mark Smith eight

travel and how to buy tickets had become a

next day, as our AVE from Madrid glided

years ago, to cover a handful of popular

nightmare. Sometimes, if something needs

smoothly into Seville, six minutes ahead of

train routes, this one-man operation now

to be done, you just have to do it yourself…

schedule. A modern-day case of the tortoise

That’s where Seat61.com comes in.

explains how to get from the UK to just

and the hare?

about any country in Europe and how to

Why is the website called Seat61?

travel in many countries worldwide – some

I grew tired of getting a Eurostar seat next

Finally, what’s your top tip?

80 in all. Routes, times, fares, how to buy

to a wall instead of a window, or a face-

Never travel without a good book and a

your tickets, and what the journeys will be

to-back seat where you stared at the back

corkscrew.

like – all are covered in loving detail on

of someone’s head, so I got hold of the

seat61.com, which received a staggering 6.4

Eurostar seating plan and identified a seat

million hits over the past 12 months alone,

that ticked all the boxes. Seat 61 (in first

resulting in 17,000 online ticket sales.

class cars 7, 8, 11 or 12) is one of two seats

Here he reveals the story behind his award-winning website:

facing across a table, with an unobstructed view from the window, and it became my customary starting point for journeys to

How did Seat61.com all begin?

Morocco, the Crimea, Istanbul and Syria,

I started in 2001 with just one page, listing

even Tokyo and Nagasaki via Moscow

a dozen key destinations in Europe and

and Vladivostok.

how to get to them from the UK by train. I never thought that 18 months ago it would

Have you always only sat in that seat?

become my full time job...

Since the website has become so popular, I often find that seat 61 is already

What was the inspiration?

taken. ‘Hoist with my own pétard’ is the

Taking the train puts the romance back into

phrase I think.

64 | r:travel

www.seat61.com

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘The judges were impressed by the progress made since Mark Smith accepted an award for Best Personal Contribution in 2006, for pioneering his online service for planning and booking rail and ferry travel online. The scope of the site remains impressive, enabling the planning of international surface-only travel in destinations such as Thailand, China, and India.’


Highly Commended Best low carbon transport and technology

Trains and boats… not planes

T

transport network, entire communities and ways of life would be lost. ‘Though certain mountains attract many visitors, tourism in Switzerland has never been about a few “honeypots”. It is spread throughout the country, and SwitzerlandMobility encourages that still

here’s something about

canoeists, all marked with signposting

further. The presence of visitors helps the

travelling in Switzerland that

and services that include accommodation,

viability of countless small, family-run

is so relaxing compared with,

luggage transfer, equipment rental and

hotels and B&Bs, local services such as

say, the daily commute into

discounted use of public transport. More

village shops, restauarants and even public

than 1,100 businesses are involved, from

transport in the form of the yellow

Switzerland has about 20,300km of

hotels to bike-hire companies. There’s even

Postbuses. This is tourism that is genuinely

public transport network, of which the

a web-based booking system that helps you

sustainable in every sense of the term.’

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) owns a total of

choose an appropriate holiday.

Waterloo. It’s just so, well, joined up.

3,000km. This is complemented by another

Heidi Reisz, account manager for

2,000km run by private railways. There

Switzerland Tourism UK, which has the

are also 150km of mountain railway lines

enviable job of promoting this joined-up

(cogwheel and funiculars).

thinking to jaded British commuters, says:

But the real strength of the Swiss Travel

‘Without our fully integrated public

www.swisstravelsystem.com

SWISS RAIL ON A ROLL RAIL IS not only a way to get around

System is the fact that trains are carefully

Switzerland, but also a way to get to

integrated with other forms of transport.

Switzerland. r:travel asked the other

All Postbuses and ships on lakes and rivers – and even the buses and trams in urban areas – are part of the Swiss Travel System. Now travel in this Alpine country just got even better, with the creation of SwitzerlandMobility, the largest national network of non-motorised routes ever created. Nearly 20,000km of itineraries have been devised for hikers, cyclists, mountain bikers, inline skaters and

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘The SwitzerlandMobility network is an exemplary model of a consistent and comprehensive approach to travel at the national level. It is the integrated and wide range of services on offer throughout this network which means that 97 per cent of people in Switzerland live within 2km of public transport.’

‘highly commended’ nominee in this category, Mark Smith, ‘the Man in Seat61’, to show us how easy it is to get from London to the top of the Jungfrau. ‘Hop on the 8.32 Eurostar from St Pancras, taking just 2 hours 14 minutes to reach the Gare du Nord in central Paris. It’s a ten-minute walk to the Gare de l’Est, where the 12:24 ‘Lyria’ high-speed train will whisk you through the green hills and pretty French villages of the Champagne region, arriving at

HIGHLY COMMENDED Swiss Travel System

Basel in Switzerland at 15:51, just 3½ hours later. The frequent and reliable Swiss InterCity network will get you to Interlaken at 17:57. Then it’s up into the mountains on the little narrow gauge train to Grindelwald and onto the Jungfraubahn up the Jungfrau to the top of Europe… In winter, the views are especially spectacular. Cost? London-Paris by Eurostar starts at £59 return, Paris-Basel by Lyria TGV at only £23 each way. A Swiss Transfer ticket (£80) will get you from any Swiss entry point to any Swiss destination and back, whether you arrive by train or air. But with train fares there are no taxes to add, no baggage fees, no hand luggage limits.’

r:travel | 65


Best tour operator for cultural engagement Winner

WINNER Village Ways, India

Tea-time for the soul In the foothills of the Indian Himalaya, an inspiring community project offers unique access to remote villages, big mountain views and a lot of cups of chai. Wanderlust magazine’s Paul Bloomfield feels his spirits soar

T

hey say you’re either a dog

still warming the terrace flagstones as I

conservation effort. For the villagers,

person or a cat person. Me, I’m

gazed around at the village of Kathdhara.

though, the benefits are questionable.

a cat person. Dogs bark, and

My guesthouse was bordered with

It’s their crops grubbed up by porcupine,

drool, and smell, and I’m a

well-tended flowerbeds, ablaze with orange

boar and barking deer, their dogs and

bit scared of them, truth be told. I like cats

marigolds, sweet william, dangling

livestock at risk from leopards against

– ideally big orange ones with black stripes

purple amaranthus and red dahlia. The

which they can no longer effectively

or spots. In India, I was very much in

near-8,000m peak of Nanda Devi sat

defend. And with reduced rights in the

the minority.

hazy on the horizon beyond the baby-

forest, their opportunities to tap resin,

pink blossoms of prunus trees lending

collect firewood and forage for animal

small guesthouse that brought it home.

a November day the spring airs of May.

fodder are also curtailed.

After a day of tracing undulating paths

Long, low, whitewashed houses overlooked

among the Himalayan foothills of India’s

verdant terraces spilling down the steep

community tourism scheme in 2006 aimed

north-western Uttarakhand province, I was

hillside, lumpy with haystacks and patched

to redress the balance. By guiding visitors

relaxing on a terrace with a steaming cup

with vegetable plots. Piney woodsmoke

along forest trails between guesthouses in

of milky chai – my 12th that day, at least

scented the still air.

five of Binsar’s villages, the project brings

It was a line in the visitors’ book in a

– leafing through its pages. ‘Excellent food – our compliments to

Kathdhara is a relatively spruce

The launch of the Village Ways

income – job opportunities for guides,

settlement of some 30 families (here,

porters, cooks; fair payment for food and

the cook!’ wrote one guest. And on the

population is numbered in families, not

services – and optimism. These villages

following page: ‘The ginger “bed tea” in the

individuals or even houses), but it’s merely

had been atrophying as young people,

mornings is a real treat.’

an island in a sea – albeit a smallish one

disillusioned with subsistence farming,

– of wild forest: Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.

migrated to towns in search of work; now,

Then: ‘Sorry to hear about the neighbour who lost his dog to a leopard last night.’ No wonder cats aren’t so popular in these parts. The rays of the late afternoon sun were

66 | r:travel

To us short-term visitors, the creation of the sanctuary – 47 sq km of mixed forest tucked into a corner formed by the Nepal and Tibet borders – seems like a laudable

hope of long-term opportunities is enticing them back home. For visitors it’s a simple sell: charming walks, an insight into traditional rural life,


SPONSORED BY:

Tourism Western Australia

−>

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID and a total absence of hassle. Yes, you read right: it’s a 100 per cent guaranteed hassle-free zone. No begging, no staring, no tipping, no horns, no guilt – especially no guilt; this must be the most relaxing experience on the subcontinent. The biggest problem you’re likely to face is a tea overdose – barely an hour goes by without an offer of yet another cup from a smiling villager. We’d set out from Khali Estate – a charming guesthouse, also Village Ways’ operations base – the previous morning, our ears ringing with the blessings of the Shaivite priest who’d daubed our foreheads

‘These community-owned and managed projects in the Indian Himalaya offer unique and authentic cultural experiences by facilitating mutual cultural engagement at every level. This has brought previously vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals from the Dalit community into focus as porters and committee members, while enabling tourists to experience rural landscapes in non-intrusive and rewarding ways and make a significant contribution to local economic development in the villages they walk through.’

with sugar bindis. A gentle hike along paths springy with pine needles brought us to Dalar, the first village on our route. Here our guide, Sher Singh – a gently spoken

www.westernaustralia.com

Kumaoni man with a wily, vulpine grin

hostess’s two grandsons cajoled my

offset by enormous brown eyes – introduced

girlfriend into playing cricket with a plastic

us to the priest’s wife, as she plucked lemons

ball that had stopped being round many

for our tea from the grove behind the house.

months before.

I drank in the surroundings along with my lemony black tea as our smiling

Tourism Western Australia is dedicated to developing, promoting and protecting Western Australia’s iconic tourism experiences. We are working with operators and consumers alike to encourage responsible travel. Western Australia’s natural assets are what set us apart from other destinations. Visitors are drawn to the unspoilt, uncrowded landscapes, which include the world’s largest fringing reef, pristine beaches, ancient rock formations, scores of national parks and abundant, unique flora and fauna. It is an area of huge biodiversity and we strongly believe tourism must protect these natural assets and return benefits back to the environment and the local communities. It is also an area of rich cultural heritage. Western Australia is home to the oldest and one of the most beautiful cultures in the world with indigenous rock art in the Kimberley dating back circ 30,000 years, including what is thought to be the first ever representation of the human face. Developing and supporting environmentally and culturally sustainable attractions is a key part of Tourism Western Australia’s five year strategy. We are working closely with industry to significantly increase the number of tourism businesses that have eco accreditation through the promotion of best practice in sustainable design and operations. Already many Western Australian hotels and operators have been recognised for their efforts in this. We are also working with various partners to ensure sustainable Aboriginal participation in tourism through training and employment initiatives. In the last two years the number of Aboriginal Tourism businesses operating in Western Australia has increased by 68% to 109. TWA is proud to sponsor the Best tour operator for cultural engagement category in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.

This encounter set the pattern for our wanderings over the following

−> r:travel | 67


Best tour operator for cultural engagement Highly Commended rhododendron forest

symbols and, ironically, leopards. Those

into a sun-soaked

flags reminded me of the paradoxes of

glade. Another

conservation – but also reaffirmed the

two hours brought

optimism growing in these tiny villages.

us to the second

As writer Arthur Pinero observed: ‘Where

of three temples

there’s tea, there’s hope’. In the small

along the ridge.

communities of Kumaon working with

We removed our

Village Ways, till now so close to losing

shoes and gingerly

their futures, I found both tea and hope

padded across the

in abundance.

chill flagstones,

www.villageways.com

Sher Singh ringing the bell above the stone gateway

The full version of this

as a tribute to the

article first appeared

goddess Nanda Devi. At well over 3,000m

in the June/July issue

guesthouse room and a hearty breakfast of

we were breathlessly high; a carpet of cloud

of Wanderlust

chilli-tinged eggs and roti (flat bread), we’d

rolled away to the south, and buzzards and

(www.wanderlust.

set out on our day’s gentle hike to the next

eagles soared, specks hundreds of metres

co.uk), the UK’s

village, past waterfalls and rust-red wild

below us.

leading specialist

−> three days. After a restful night in a cosy

magazine for independent-minded

turmeric. We’d retrieve tiffin tins from our

The silence was enhanced by the

packs for lunch, Sher Singh seasoning our

faint tinkle of hundreds of bells lining

travellers. The November issue is on sale

munching with nuggets of insight about the

the courtyard and the fluttering of flags

now, price £3.99.

forest, identifying tits, warblers,

embroidered with elephants, flowers, om

tree-creepers, bulbuls and flycatchers. Thanks to the transparency of the

THE REGENERATION GAME

Village Ways system and the welcome it engendered, the character – and the

VILLAGE WAYS was created by local hotelier Himanshu Pande and Dinesh Pande, a

characters – of each settlement quickly

community development worker; the other directors include Indian businesspeople,

made themselves known.

British rural development experts and experienced tour operators. Village Ways provides

There is a local saying: ‘If you walk for one mile, the water will taste different;

marketing, books guests and pays guides a daily wage. The five Binsar villages – Dalar, Risal, Gonap, Kathdhara and Satri – each built and

walk for three, and the language will be

run a traditional-style, three-bedroom guesthouse, with grants an loans from Village

different’. Here, the language is mine but

Ways. A village tourism committee – each with at least two women members – manages

it is hard for me to understand.’ Sher Singh

each guesthouse, keeping accounts, allocating porters and cooks, controlling the buying

was observing just one of the distinctions

of food, nearly all of it local.

between the Binsar hamlets and Supi, home

There’s no individual tipping: donations are placed in a village development

to a new Village Ways guesthouse, the first

fund for investments – the purchase of a new buffalo, education or improvements in

in the Saryu Valley. The high peaks are

women’s health. Village committees also have a mandate to encourage participation by

closer, plants vary – we sat among figs and

disadvantaged groups and individuals, included Dalits and the disabled.

pears, which blossom weeks later than in Binsar – and the proximity of Nepal and Tibet is evident in the villagers’ features. From here we ascended up towards the lookout at Supi Chilta. Being that much higher up in the Himalayan foothills, the

Guides recruited from the villages were originally trained by naturalists from Corbett National Park; senior guides such as Sher Singh now help develop trainees. The scheme helps the communities work together, and builds bridges between the communities and the Forestry Department; the advent of Village Ways has encouraged villages to protect wildlife and reduce logging. The Supi guesthouse is the first in the Saryu Valley; more guesthouses are currently

opportunities for more demanding hiking

being developed in the region, with the close cooperation of a poverty alleviation

around Supi are many and varied.

agency UPASaC.

We’d certainly picked the day for it. The

‘The essence of our holiday is about cultural engagement with the host communities,’

first few hundred metres were unremittingly

says Village Ways director Richard Hearn. ‘We offer guests the opportunity to visit village

steep, and by 7am we’d worked off the

homes, to work with villagers in their fields and around the villages. For the hosts a

morning chill, emerging from dense

sense of pride in their traditions has been awakened.’

68 | r:travel


The rhythm of the rainforest

B

HIGHLY COMMENDED Tropic Journeys in Nature, Ecuador

ack in 1994, Welsh ecologist

Huaorani themselves. Guests who come

of riverside birds such as Amazonian

Andy Drumm became alarmed

here help their hosts maintain a way of life

kingfishers. You arrive at the ecolodge in

at what he saw as a ‘cultural

independent of gifts and handouts from oil

time for dinner.

assault’ on a traditionally,

companies, enabling them to preserve their

A stay here involves waking up early,

proud, defiant tribe living in the

culture, heritage, and traditions as well as

having breakfast, and venturing out in

Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador:

conserve the land. At the same time, Tropic

the morning coolness, while evenings are

the Huaorani.

has extended its work to include indigenous

times for flashlight walks or canoe rides to

peoples in other areas of the country.

look for things that ‘go bump’ in the night.

The Huaorani have long inhabited the headwaters of the Amazon, living as

‘Here’, however, is terra firma rainforest

Even if you do not see many creatures, their

nomadic hunters and gatherers with little

(forest that is never flooded) an hour’s walk

signs are everywhere. Rest assured that,

outside contact until the end of the 1950s.

from the community of Quehueri’ono,

while seemingly invisible, the rainforest’s

At least one clan continues to shun all

in the northwestern part of Huaorani

inhabitants are no doubt getting a good

contact with the outside world.

territory. The ecolodge consists of five

look at you.

Huaorani-style, palm-thatched cabins,

www.tropiceco.com

But the Huaorani also live on top of one of Ecuador’s largest oil deposits and have

built of local wood, within which are fitted

been forced to deal with the presence of oil

modern large tents. All have a pair of twin

companies and other outsiders, such as

beds, a bathroom with a shower and flush

road-builders and loggers, on land they have

toilet, and a porch with comfortable chairs.

called home for at least a thousand years.

The dining area is part of a complex of

Andy, working with Huaorani leader Moi Enomenga, founded a socially principled tour operator, Tropic, to work on a solution:

rooms and the whole area is covered with traditional Huaorani-style palm thatching. To get ‘here’ involves a four to five-hour

community tourism. Over the years, this

drive from Ecuador’s capital Quito to reach

venture has helped a small part of their

the country’s third airport in the town of

territory (55,000 hectares of primary

Shell (named after the oil company). A

Amazon rainforest) to keep all this pressure

45-minute light aircraft flight takes you

away. Recently, their innovative partnership

over a green vastness punctuated by rivers

led to the building of Huaorani Ecolodge, a

and settlements, to land in Quehueri’ono.

deliberately small, environmentally-friendly

You are then poled down the Shiripuno

development which opened in 2008, and

river in a shallow dugout canoe, dodging

which is co-managed by Tropic and the

sunken tree trunks, and catching glimpses

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Tropic Journeys in Nature provide an extensive cultural exchange programme between not only tourists and the local community, but between indigenous tribes as well, facilitating a network of cultural visits inter and intra culture. By working closely and consistently with the Huaroni people over 15 years they have helped to secure the community’s ability to raise and manage their own income through tourism.’

r:travel | 69


Best tour operator for cultural engagement Highly Commended HIGHLY COMMENDED Estrela, Brazil

BE A COOL TOURIST ESTRELA has its own take on responsible tourism. Called simply ‘Be a Cool Tourist’, it urges: • Come and visit us with an open spirit, to get to know us and our culture. • Discover our customs and ways of living – they are different, but not inferior. • Be sensitive to our reality – without making promises and creating expectation. • Try and spend your money to benefit

Taking to the streets in Brazil

local people, not just big businesses – it makes for a much richer exchange. • Reflect on and share your experience – promote our Brazil! • Listen, observe, ask – don’t just look

scenes’ of Salvador. Taking a community

looking for a meaningful

tour allows visitors the opportunity to

alternative to the hedonistic

meet local people, enjoy their culture and

beach and carnival

understand their reality. The tours, which

and assume. • Take care of our environment – the world belongs to all of us. • Belongings – Stay aware and don’t

experience, are getting the chance to give

rotate between five different communities,

carry valuable things. (visible valuable

something back to the city and its people

support local grass-roots organisations and

belongings create a security risk for all

with a thoughtful new community

give young people, especially, a chance to

tourism project.

work as guides and performers and improve

Set up two years ago by Estrela, a

their opportunities.

British/Brazilian charity working to help

Founder Julia McNaught da Silva

disadvantaged youth and communities

explains: ‘Salvador is one of Brazil’s top

in Brazil, Estrela Community Tours takes

resorts, with a tremendous and vibrant

around 200 visitors a year ‘behind the

cultural scene. Its local people were very keen and open to the idea of sharing this,

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Estrela Community Tours are designed as a strategy to support the focus of the UK/Brazilian charity Estrela, to promote intercultural engagement between Brazil and other countries. The tours target the most deprived neighbourhoods and disadvantaged youth in Salvador, and invest 100 per cent of tour income into the local economy through the arrangements of cultural tours to community projects. By partnering with international tour operators, Estrela are committed to the development of a model of community tourism replicable in other destinations.’

70 | r:travel

bringing people from different cultures and realities together as equals, and learning

of us). • Photography – Think and ask before you take a photo (there is a lot of sexual tourism here, and we don’t know where our photos go). • No exploitation of women & children – they’re our mothers, sisters & daughters. • No aggressive haggling – our salaries are already low.

from each other. ‘The communities visited are excluded, disadvantaged, periphery communities,

community tourism, the Calafate Women´s

now undergoing a transformation of

Collective have developed a community

boosted self-esteem as a result of the

museum, painted colourful murals around

community tours. Despite the interesting

the community, create and sell crafts, and

people and places visited and colourful,

run their own tours in accordance with, and

rhythmic cultural performances, the

including, the local calendar of festivals,

highlight of the tours for many is the simple

attracting Brazilian and international

interaction with local people and having

tourists alike. It has brought a sense of

the chance to chat informally. Visitors may

hope, a new activity for positive change,

also choose a participatory activity, and try

increasingly recognised by the entire

out samba drumming, capoeira or

community, who never dreamt that tourists

Afro-Brazilian dance!

would want to visit their neighbourhood.

‘One particular community involved

Now they are proud to be Calafateiros!’

suffers particularly from drug-related violence. Through the development of

www.estrela-brasil.com

DESTINATION NORTHLAND

V

isitors to Salvador in Brazil,


Our adventures will take you to untouched wilderness... and we’ll also help keep it that way

Fisherman’s Rest 80% of our visitors engage in the community hands on! And love it. They generally say it’s the best holiday they have ever had! Wilderness Journeys has forged a reputation as Europe’s leading specialist adventure travel company. Our mission is to provide travel experiences which inspire our clients to enjoy, value and protect the world’s wilderness areas. From trekking in Bhutan to sea kayaking in Greenland, our active holidays support nature conservation and environmental protection initiatives in the destinations we explore. Join us for the adventure of a lifetime.

wildernessjourneys.com 0131 625 6635

www.Äshermansrest.net

Authentic St Lucia Your

Tropical Garden Of

Eden

• Colonial Estate set in nature’s best, against the backdrop of a St Lucia World Heritage Site. Fond Doux Holiday Plantation in St Lucia’s Historical Soufriere. • Come experience the world as it was. • Experience life as it should

www.fonddouxestate.com


Best volunteering organisation Winner

WINNER People and Places, UK

The right people in the right places As the organisations featured over the next four pages happily confirm, volunteers are the lifeblood of their work. Nevertheless, volunteering is a potential minefield for the unwary and the unprepared. Our winning company, UK-based People and Places, offers a responsible way forward

leads them to want to achieve more than may be practical or possible. ‘We do not place volunteers without the informed consent of the project – this means that the project is privy to the skills of the volunteer well before they arrive. In many instances the volunteers will have far

E

programmes. The first volunteer

not qualified in than those of the people

social networking sites are

organisation to be independently audited

on the ground and in many instances local

filled with tales of gap year

by the Responsible Tourism Partnership, it

people have higher skills than volunteers

volunteering plans that ended in

works with local partners – from respected

– but the very nature of the volunteer being

disappointment or disaster – both for the

responsible tour operators to international

“foreign” leads the community to believe

volunteers and the community they had

NGOs – to match volunteers’ specific skills

they will know more.

hoped to serve.

to local needs.

It’s not always about unscrupulous

Since launching in March 2006, People

‘Add to this the nuance of cultural mores – for example, communities where

companies relieving our eager children of

and Places has placed around 250

they would not dream of disagreeing with

large sums of money, most of which find

volunteers and expects to place a further

an honoured guest, and volunteers who

their way into the wrong pockets. Another

200 in 2009. It currently works with eight

are fearful of cultural disrespect – and

potentially traumatic problem is managing

partners, supporting 16 projects in the

misunderstandings can and do arise. It is

expectations and matching people’s skills

Gambia, South Africa, Nepal, India, Peru,

imperative to have skilled facilitators on the

with the right project. It’s an issue all too

Indonesia, Swaziland and Madagascar.

ground with whom volunteers and project

familiar to Sallie Grayson, co-founder and

Explains Sallie: ‘Most short-term

programme director of People and Places.

volunteer travellers do not have an

Now a Responsible Tourism Award winner,

in-depth knowledge of all the nuances of

challenge in three ways, says Sallie.

two years after getting a ‘highly

the community they seek to serve. They are

• Detailed briefings before departure.

commended’ nod, People and Places prides

well meaning, intelligent, well read and

• Putting volunteers in touch with each

itself on offering fully transparent

optimistic. This optimism almost invariably

72 | r:travel

leaders can meet regularly.’ People and Places addresses this

other before they leave. People and Places

VOLUNTEERS THE KUGLERS; MOLWENI - WELCOME SOUTH AFRICA

greater skills in an area they feel they are very year newspapers and


encourages previous volunteers to brief future volunteers – warts and all. • On the ground the company works with

overwhelming for our local partners.’ People and Places solved that by TravelPledge (www.travelpledge.org) a

communities and experienced in ensuring

charity which channels donations to

guest and host will work together.

targeted causes, with donors able to see

been the management of the generosity

where money is going and how it is spent. All in all, volunteering should

of returning volunteers. Over the two

be a satisfying process for everyone

years to the end of 2008, volunteers have

involved. ‘Seeing the cumulative effect of

contributed at least £49,000 in mandatory

volunteering in community development

donations to projects in the communities

is especially rewarding,’ adds Sallie.

in which they work, but this total is

‘We are helping communities build the

doubled by further donations raised by the

future they want for themselves. And,

volunteers when they return.

because we update previous volunteers on

‘More than 20 per cent of our returning

developments after their placement, they

volunteers want to continue to support

gain a growing understanding that their

their projects when they return home,’ says

role was important and meaningful.’

Sallie. ‘Our challenge was how to manage

www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk

this travel philanthropy – efficiently, effectively and openly. To be quite honest,

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

as a tiny organisation, we were becoming overwhelmed by the reporting systems

ANYONE looking to volunteer

needed to ensure we were communicating

should do their homework to avoid

properly with donors and monitoring

disappointment – or worse. Here is

efficacy – and the burden was equally

People and Places’ checklist of what you should ask of any volunteer organisation, before signing up. More

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘People and Places has exercised leadership in a sector bedevilled by poor practice and established a replicable business model. Committed to reporting transparently on the money that volunteers pay, they ensure that the volunteers meet their full costs and are not a burden on the community; and carefully match the skills of volunteers to the needs of that community without replacing local labour. They have taken the groundbreaking step of having their work externally audited and publishing it online. These four principles set not only a practicable standard for operators to aspire to, but offer valuable guidelines for tourists seeking legitimate and socially beneficial volunteering experiences.’

Kenya Tourist Board

becoming a founding partner of

local partners who are in and of their

A different, but welcome challenge has

SPONSORED BY:

details – and the right answers - are at www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk 1. How can I be sure that what you’re telling me is true and not just marketing hype? 2. How and where is my money spent? 3. How will my skills be used effectively? 4. I’m only going to be there for a few weeks – how can my input be of any real use? 5. Who decides what my role will be? 6. Who knows about me before I arrive and what do they know? 7. Whose idea was the project and who runs it? 8. Can I talk to previous volunteers? 9. Can I talk to local people before I go?

The Kenya Tourist Board has a commitment to Responsible Tourism and environmental and cultural preservation projects have grown extensively over the past decade, spurred by a desire to maintain Africa’s rich artistic and ecological treasures. From helping with community aid in remote villages and learning about animal conservation, to viewing and helping preserve ancient African rock art – there are now more options than ever for holidaymakers to explore and get involved. With ‘safari’ coming from the Swahili for ‘journey’, Kenya prides itself on offering an unparalleled travel experience for everyone. From the depths of a coral reef to snow-capped mountains, from lush rainforests to vast trackless expanse of desert, from extinct volcanoes to geothermal springs and from rolling savannahs to freshwater lakes, Kenya’s contrasts hold the promise of real adventure. Its 59 National Parks and Reserves offer endless potential for the wildlife enthusiast, while those pushed for time can even have a taster with a one-day safari adventure in Nairobi national park – just 20mins from the capital! The country has also drawn on its many historical influences to develop its own unique culture and boasts 42 ethnic groups, countless languages and dialects and one of the most richly diverse social tapestries on earth. A great sporting nation, there’s plenty to satisfy the amateur enthusiast and ultimate thrill seeker alike in Kenya, from golf to bike trekking, from marathon running to big game fishing and from paragliding to world-class diving. Added to this are award-winning safari lodges and sophisticated tented camps, plus a fantastic range of both scheduled and charter flights from the UK. There has never been a better time to visit Kenya. Whichever ‘safari’ option you choose, Kenya’s charms inspire. www.magicalkenya.com

10. Will I be safe? 11. What’s all this I hear about adequate insurance? 12. Is there any continuity? 13. What kind of support is there for me?

r: travel | 31 r:travel | 73


Best volunteering organisation Highly Commended

Cay to success

T

depend on them for food and livelihoods,

Mexico, Cambodia, Fiji, Tobago and St

but also globally because they are key

Vincent and Grenadines. Their efforts have

systems helping to control greenhouse gases.

seen the expansion of marine protected

But don’t be fooled. Coral Cay

areas in the Philippines, and the Belize

Conservation (CCC) is the name, but saving

Barrier Reef designated a UNESCO World

corals is not the only game. Chairman Peter

Heritage Site. But founder Peter Raines

Faulkner explains: ‘When you consider any

believes their greatest achievement has

complex ecosystem – and they don’t get

been to raise awareness of the importance

here are many newcomers

much more complex than coral reefs – we

of coral reefs and rainforests.

to the arena of responsible

must take a holistic approach and consider

tourism and volunteering.

many impacts that may have effects on the

this, working alongside scientists and

Coral Cay Conservation is not

Volunteers play an integral part in all

particular ecosystem. In tropical regions

helping to educate local communities. In

one of them. Founded in 1986 by marine

when we look at a coral reef we often have

2008, CCC recruited 106 volunteers, and

biologist Peter Raines, as a not-for-profit

to also consider the tropical rainforests that

as of July, had another 141 for this year. As

NGO, Coral Cay has been at the heart of

line the coast. One of the major threats that

a CCC volunteer you could be surveying

the fight to raise awareness of the growing

reefs face globally is deforestation which

fish in the Philippines, working with local

threat to the world’s coral reefs for 23 years.

creates excessive run-off onto reefs.

communities in Tobago or assisting with

Combining the efforts of volunteers, field

‘Ultimately, Coral Cay Conservation

some of the first marine research to be

staff and local project partners, in what it

works to help local peoples preserve the

conducted in Cambodia. At the same time

calls a ‘citizen science’ approach, it strives

world’s coral reefs and tropical rainforests.

you will learn how to dive or further your

to protect, manage and preserve coral reefs

We do that by providing them with a

diving skills. Not to mention living on

and tropical rainforests by working closely

variety of resources such as research data,

the shores of tropical islands, witnessing

with those communities who depend on

training of local scholars, education at local

spectacular sunsets and diving with

them for food and livelihoods.

schools and the ability to keep up the work

inspiring creatures.

It is estimated that around 30-40 per

after we have left. We never lose sight of the

‘Coral Cay volunteers are the core of

cent of the world’s coral reefs have been

fact that we are working with communities.

Coral Cay,’ says Peter Raines. ‘Without our

destroyed or are beyond recovery and if ‘the

To successfully preserve these ecosystems we

volunteers there is no Coral Cay.’

world’ does not take urgent action, coral

must bring the local people along with us.’

www.coralcay.org

reefs as we know them may disappear

In the past 23 years Coral Cay has

forever. Coral reefs are important, not only

launched marine conservation projects in

for the well being of communities that

Belize, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia,

HIGHLY COMMENDED Coral Cay Conservation, UK

74 | r:travel

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Coral Cay Conservation projects are conducted only under the express invitations of local governments and NGOs, enabling them to organise marine conservation volunteer experiences with local project partners. They maintain a strong commitment to facilitating positive relationships with local communities by conducting pilot projects aimed at gauging the response of those communities to external intervention.’


The right time to walk away

HIGHLY COMMENDED Peru’s Challenge

F

or any volunteer organisation,

problems, from poor dental hygiene

seven people per household. Its school has

the ultimate aim of its work must

through to parasite infestations. They

been abandoned by the Department of

be to walk away, job done. In a

lacked energy and were prone to violence

Education. The children are malnourished

remote rural community of Peru,

and anger. Now they have fresh fruit daily,

and full of parasites. Houses are poorly

that’s exactly what the team behind Peru’s

nutritious lunches, regular dental checks

equipped with no electricity, safe drinking

Challenge are about to do.

and parasite treatment. Energy levels are up

water or toilets. Beds are usually a couple of

and regular PE classes are hugely popular.

blankets on the floor and cooking facilities

For the past four years its founders, former Australian tourism worker Jane

In the wider community, a community

are dismal with kitchen areas full of smoke.

Gavel and her Peruvian husband Selvy

centre has been built, which also houses

Ugaz, a handful of staff and around 120

a clinic. Homes have been built or

volunteers a year have been working in

refurbished, and smokeless stoves installed,

community is made up of people full of

Pumamarca, an agricultural community

farming and animal husbandry methods

hope and dedicated to working side-by-side

hugged by mountains 10km from Cuzco.

have been improved. Talleres (adult

with Peru’s Challenge to ensure a better

workshop classes) have been set up, where

future for their children.

mothers make and sell handicrafts.

www.peruschallenge.com

Since October 2005 their work has improved the lives of more than 1,300 villagers, mainly in health, housing and

Volunteers – most from Australia, but

education. When they leave at the end of

some from the UK and Ireland – help with

this year, Pumamarca will be

everything from construction to English

self-sustainable, able to carry on the

classes to assistance with running the

projects started by Peru’s Challenge.

Talleres. Sponsorship manager Brugh

The transformation has been startling.

O’Brien says: ‘Our volunteers provide both

When work started, the school had just one

manpower and funding. They are the

classroom, eight children and one teacher,

lifeblood of our organisation, both while

but no toilet, no equipment, no electricity.

they are with us and after they finish their

It now has seven classrooms, a

placement. We always try to encourage a

kindergarten, a computer centre, flushing

lasting connection with our volunteers after

toilets, electricity, and is fully equipped.

they leave the programme.’

There are 150 students, from kindergarten through to Grade 6 and eight teachers. Back in 2005 the children were malnourished and had a range of

Peru’s Challenge has now identified its next challenge: Quilla Huata, a 30-minute walk from Pumamarca. It’s home to 100 families, with an average of

It’s a familiar picture… Despite this, the Quilla Huata

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘The project limits set up by Peru’s Challenge are a unique and commendable way of measuring quantifiable change in the destinations they work with. By maintaining a guaranteed maximum time of five years in any one community, they ensure from the outset that the project is working towards a sustainable exit, and facilitating the local community to invest in, and manage, itself after departure.’

r:travel | 75


Best responsible cruise or ferry operator Winner

WINNER Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, US

Cruising into the mainstream

L

better to engage with these leviathans than cast them out into a floating wilderness. Far

ike it or not – and many

Terry Dale, predicted that, ‘Even in these

better to encourage the cruise industry to

environmentalists definitely do

tough economic times, we are forecasting

clean up its act.

not – cruising is not going away.

that in 2009 a record 13.5 million people

Indeed, according to the

Cruise Line International Association, an industry group that represents 95 per cent

And some parts of the cruise industry

will take a cruise.’ He added that last year

are moving in the right direction. Royal

the industry was worth $38 billion.

Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), operates

That’s a lot of money and a lot of

38 ships, reaching 400 destinations and

of the worldwide market, and includes 23

passengers, cruising around the world on

carried 4 million passengers in 2008. It is

cruise lines that total 200 ships, it continues

ever-larger vessels, some of them virtual

the company behind two of the world’s

to be one of the fastest-growing areas of

floating cities.

biggest vessels, Independence of the Seas

tourism. Earlier this year, its chief executive

But the argument is growing that it’s far

and Oasis of the Seas, but has registered

‘THERE IS A VITAL ROLE LARGE COMPANIES CAN AND MUST PLAY’ CONSERVATIONIST Jamie Sweeting caused consternation among

able to do what unique, small scale family/community-owned

many of his colleagues when he joined Royal Caribbean Cruises

enterprises can do – but then again those enterprises could never

18 months ago.

cater to the hundreds of millions of tourists who travel the globe.

After 13 years with Conservational International on the other side of the tourism fence, he says some joked he was like ‘Darth Vader going over to the dark side’ when he became RCCL’s Vice

Also, a lot of tourists prefer what mainstream travel has to offer whether ecotourism advocates like myself like it or not. ‘I feel there is a vital role large travel companies can and must

President for Environmental Stewardship and Global Chief

play to make travel more sustainable. I understand that there are

Environmental Officer. But Sweeting believes responsible tourism

those fundamentally opposed to large scale operations like ours.

has got to engage with mainstream tourism and its big players

I just feel they live in a ‘never land’ of idealism. Rather than hurl

and work for conservation from the inside.

criticisms born out of wanting to get rid of us, why not engage

‘A fundamental question is can mainstream/large volume

those of us that want to get better and be as good as we can be

travel be responsible/sustainable? By taking this job I was

and grab us by the hand and help us get there in a practical,

determined to show that it can be. Royal Caribbean will never be

systematic manner.’

76 | r:travel


• In 2008, throughout the fleet, RCCL recycled and reused more than 12

SPONSORED BY:

Tourism Malaysia

million pounds of materials. On its two most successful ships, 80 per cent of the waste they landed could be recycled, with only 20 per cent going to landfill. • 2008 also saw a 65 per cent reduction in the generation of hazardous waste on board RCCL ships • Water-conserving technology reduced the amount of water needed to be produced onboard in 2008 by three per cent from 2007. • Since 1998 all RCCL ships have been equipped to purify and cleanse bilge water to 99.9995 per cent pure – three times cleaner than required by international regulations. • RCCL has also gone over and above international regulations on wastewater. It is installing Advanced Wastewater Purification systems onboard all of its Royal Caribbean some impressive statistics when it comes to

International, Celebrity Cruises and

cleaner technology aboard its ships.

Azamara Cruises ships, at a cost of more than $150 million, These systems treat

• RCCL’s ships are powered by a hybrid

black and gray water to produce an effluent

diesel-electric power plant. Emissions on

that is cleaner than that discharged from

the newest ships have been reduced per

most municipalities.

average passenger cruise day by more

Jamie Sweeting, Vice President for

than 50 per cent over ships built ten

Environmental Stewardship and Global

years ago.

Chief Environmental Officer (and a former

• Advances in hull design and coatings save as much as five per cent savings in energy for propulsion. • More than $200 million dollars have been spent on energy efficiency initiatives. • Eight of its ships are deployed with smokeless gas-turbine engines – the first in the cruise industry – which can reduce the exhaust emissions of nitrous oxide by 85 per cent and sulfur oxides by more than 90 per cent. • Solar window film has been introduced throughout the fleet, keeping the ships cooler and reducing the load on air conditioning, resulting in less fuel consumption. • Energy-saving advances on board include lighting that uses 80 per cent less energy and high-efficiency appliances.

conservation activist, see panel, left)

−>

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Last year was the first year for this category, and responsible tourism continues to be a new area of concern for the cruise sector. This year we are pleased to recognise an organisation demonstrating an exhaustive approach to environmental initiatives. The reduction of emissions in their newest vessels by 50 per cent over those built 10 years ago provides a unique insight into what can be achieved by the rest of the cruise sector if it had the same level of commitment.’

Tourism Malaysia is the official tourism organisation for Malaysia, dedicated to developing and promoting tourism to the country. We have a proactive approach to promoting eco visitations and are intensively working with the media, consumers and tour operators to encourage eco and responsible travel. Our visitors enjoy a host of natural resources including the stunning Taman Negara Rainforest – the world’s oldest natural rainforest, and a haven for hundreds of species of wildlife, exotic birds, fish and plants. We also benefit from the wild jungles of Malaysian Borneo, and over 9,000 kilometres of coastline. Malaysia also has over 1,600 km squared of mangrove forests with 36 different types of mangrove species – we believe that tourism can be a vehicle for maintaining the country’s biodiversity through returning benefits to local communities and the environment. Supporting environmentally sustainable practices is a key mandate in Tourism Malaysia’s business strategy, working closely with the travel industry across a range of practices. The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa achieved a highly commended award in the Large hotel category in previous Responsible Tourism Awards Tourism Malaysia is proud to sponsor the Best cruise or ferry operator award in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards. www.tourism.gov.my

r:travel | 77


Best responsible cruise or ferry operator Winner

Cruisers get around: visiting the Galapagos and, inset, hiking in Alaska

−>

says: ‘We are really getting a handle

Xpedition Galapagos Fund

on minimising the negative effects the

to support the conservation

operation of our ships has.

of the islands’ species and

‘We are spending an awful lot of money

habitats. In 2008 this fund

on doing this because ultimately we take our

awarded $235,670 to 14

guests to some of the most beautiful, pristine

different organisations.

environments in the world. These places are

A drop in the ocean?

the core asset of our business. You just don’t

Since 1996, when RCCL

trash that asset. Our newest ship, Oasis of

established its Ocean

the Seas, costs $1.4 billion. We want it to be

Fund to support marine

making money for us in 20-25 years. We’d

conservation worldwide, it has handed out

be idiots not to look after these places.’

more than $10 million in grants to more

can get better,’ he adds. ‘We have a mantra

than 60 conservation organisations.

of continuous improvement. And we need

The next big challenge facing Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines, Sweeting

Sweeting admits: ‘We are far from perfect.

‘There are a lot of ways in which we

more help from NGOs and community

believes, is destination stewardship: what

The industry has made mistakes in the

tourism practitioners to see where we can

to do with the 2,500 to 3,000 people who

past. There was a perception that the

link up and help to spread the benefits

disembark when their ship docks.

oceans were boundless and resilient and

of tourism.

RCCL is targeting four areas: developing

you could do almost anything to them.

‘We need help and support in seeing

sustainable growth; creating minimum

But in the past decade you have had a shift

what works; we are at the cutting edge of

standards for excursion providers; educating

and you have had 10 years of really

trying to prove whether large scale tourism

guests and staff about environmental and

maturing programmes in place. For

can continue into the 21st century. If we

cultural issues; providing support for local

example, our Saves the Waves waste

can’t find sustainable ways to do tourism at

conservation and communities.

management programme was set up in

scale it will be very troublesome.’

An example is its work in the Galapagos. In 2006 RCCL established a Celebrity

78 | r:travel

1992 and we had an environment officer aboard every ship from 1996.

www.royalcaribbean.com


Highly commended Best responsible cruise or ferry operator

Fighting on the beaches

W

hen it comes to tackling marine environmental

donations, SeaFrance set up a voluntary £2

was the first project of its kind for us; we

contribution scheme for passengers, which

recognised that we have a responsibility,

has raised more than £250,000 for MCS

as any kind of transport has a negative

in the first 13 months, with around

effect on the environment. We have also

50 per cent of passengers opting to pay.

made some improvements to our fleet,

This has enabled MCS to mobilise

investing 300 million euros in more fuel

thousands of volunteers to clean and survey

efficient vessels.’

the litter around our coastline. In just one weekend, 5,219 volunteers

In another initiative, SeaFrance has stepped up its promotion of the Nord

issues, one ferry company

were out cleaning 374 beaches, and,

Pas de Calais region, where its French

has decided to fight them

overall, 11,323 volunteers have cleared

headquarters are based, encouraging more

6,329 bags of rubbish from 499 beaches,

visitors to linger in the region, rather than

accounting for 26,194 plastic drinks bottles,

speed on through to destinations further

SeaFrance, which operates on the busiest

44,194 sweet and crisp wrappers, 3,229

south. A new ‘greeters’ scheme has been

Dover-Calais cross-channel route, has

balloons and 25,429 cotton bud sticks.

particularly successful, with local residents

on the beaches.

Since May 2008, the French firm

sponsored the Marine Conservation

But it’s far from being just a passive way

meeting visitors and taking them on a tour

Society’s (MCS) Beachwatch campaign, set

to ‘do their bit’ for the environment. The

up to tackle the increasing problem of litter

company staff, family and friends also get

on UK beaches. As well as making its own

their hands dirty in their own quarterly

and is quite dependent on tourism,’ adds

beach clean-ups at their adopted location,

Rachel. ‘We wanted to do our bit to help the

Kingsdown Beach, Kent.

local tourism and we have definitely helped

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Through sponsorship of the Beachwatch campaign, SeaFrance has engaged a network of volunteers to clean and survey the British coastline, as part of a wider commitment to an effective waste management policy. The company has withdrawn older vessels in favour of new energy-efficient ones, reducing their carbon emissions by 15 per cent, and is actively promoting cycling holidays in France.’

Also, they’ve taken their involvement

of local organic food producers. ‘The region isn’t strong economically

put Nord Pas de Calais on the map!

into the wider community, funding a

‘Ferry companies have caught on to

week of MCS Cool Seas roadshows in Kent

responsible tourism rather later than other

primary schools, and partnering with one

tourism areas and transporters. But we are

to run a competition to design an

a relatively low carbon form of transport

eco-bag which is now in use aboard

and are recognising the importance of

SeaFrance ships.

taking responsibility.’

SeaFrance’s marketing development manager Rachel Rissbrook, comments: ‘This

www.seafrance.com

HIGHLY COMMENDED Seafrance Ltd, UK/France


WINNER Guludo Beach Lodge, Mozambique

What does it take to turn a dream into reality?

school scholarships have been awarded, school attendance is up by 350 per cent and a team of health volunteers run nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, malaria and HIV

In the case of one eco beach lodge helping to lift a community out of poverty, it took the vision and determination of a young British couple

workshops in each village household. For the first time Guludo’s children can build a future for themselves. But it’s not been about handouts: the

S

even years ago, an idealistic

failing rainfall caused severe malnutrition

philosophy of Amy and Neal is to empower

couple launched a high-end

in children, hindering their physical and

the community to shape their own lives.

ecotourism venture in a remote

mental development and leaving them

Nema’s success has been spectacular over

part of northern Mozambique.

vulnerable to disease. In 2003 the village

the past two years and it now works with

Their aim: to use the tourist pound to fund

was haunted by dull-eyed, malnourished,

12 villages – including Guludo.

a series of projects to alleviate poverty in

pot-bellied children

the local community. Income from guests to Guludo Beach

Now, thanks to the determination and

Guludo Lodge itself has also been transformed: from the tented original

vision of Amy and Neal Carter-James, a

to a new lodge built almost exclusively

Lodge is channelled into poverty-reduction

transformation has taken place in Guludo.

with local materials, most available

work through the charitable arm, the Nema

The village is now a joyful place, filled

literally within a stone’s throw. The lodge

Foundation, which also raises its own funds

with well-nourished, bright-eyed smiling

has been designed by award-winning

through donations.

children. More than 15,000 people have

architects Cullum & Nightingale to blend

access to safe drinking water, 550 children

luxury with a mix of traditional and

its extreme poverty, 29 per cent infant

receive a nutritious school meal daily,

contemporary styles and with the highest of

mortality and 38-year life expectancy.

10,000-plus women and children are

environmental and social integrity.

Annual food shortages linked to late or

sleeping under mosquito nets, 79 secondary

Guludo village was chosen because of

80 | r:travel

Each of the nine bandas (rooms) has


Winner Best for poverty reduction now occur more frequently due to

SPONSORED BY:

increased village prosperity. Sixty

PromPeru

women work in the new Guludo Craft Centre which was opened last month by Mozambique’s First Lady. Guludo has been showcased as a best-practice tourism lodge by the United Nations. The Mozambican ministry of tourism also uses it as an example and a benchmark for other tourism operators. ‘Guludo has raised the responsible tourism bar in Mozambique and opened the government’s eyes to its true potential in the fight against poverty and environmental degradation,’ says Amy. Amy, 29, was just 22 when they started; Neal just two years been carefully designed

older. ‘We didn’t know an awful lot,’ admits

so guests can watch the sun spectacularly

Amy. ‘We had the dream and the vision

rise over neighbouring Rolas Island from the

and we believed it would work, but had no

comfort of their own, extravagant king-sized

idea how challenging it would be.

bed. Only the occasional monkey playing in your hammock can disturb the peace! Favourite activities include diving, beach

‘We knew Guludo had massive potential but didn’t quite believe how far just a little money could go. For example, just £10 can

archery, excursions and hammock-time,

pay for a workshop in food education for

and the villagers v staff and guests football

half a dozen women. The impact of that

match is a major event.

is considerable.’

The lodge undoubtedly attracts more

Nema means ‘extreme joy when

discerning travellers, people who love

unsolvable problems are resolved’. Adds

to spend time getting to know the local

Amy. ‘We were determined it was going to

community. Very often they will be inspired,

work. Failure was never an option.’

once home, to raise funds for Nema. More

www.guludo.com

guests have meant more income. More income, more work for the foundation. ‘Things have really taken off in the past 18 months,’ says Amy. ‘We have been able to implement far more than we imagined, which has had a profound impact on health, education and water in particular.’ Nema has also helped villagers to set up enterprise groups; one of the most successful has been manufacturing and selling ceramic tiles. In the beginning these were used by the lodge, but as word has spread, so has the market for them. More shops have sprung up – where there were just two, now there are 15, as more and more people find ways to sell things to the lodge and its guests. Local customs and ceremonies have been revived and

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘The work of Guludo Beach Lodge, through their charitable foundation Nema has had an unprecedented and undeniably positive impact on the immediate community, working towards major improvements in children’s health care and education conditions. Their portfolio of projects in the local area is exhaustive, working closely with the local community for the sustainable continuation of those projects by providing water committee training, hygiene and sanitation workshops and much more.’

It is a great honour for PromPeru to sponsor the Responsible Tourism Award for ‘Best for poverty reduction’. Peru’s tourism industry acts as a tool to help combat poverty as it is continuously aiding the improvement of the quality of life of the Peruvian people by generating sustainable development and income throughout the country. This helps to consolidate a common identity and strengthen commercial relations between Peru and the rest of the world. The popularity of rural, community and ecotourism aids income and development within the country and has risen due to the demand of visitors wanting unique experiences to connect with the local people. Eighty per cent of tourists participating in community tourism have done so only in southern Peru on the popular main tourist circuit. Therefore, PromPeru is working with partners on the development of diverse community activities in all regions of Peru for the direct benefit of smaller communities and the whole country. Communities play a decisive role in developing these initiatives and the aim is to preserve their culture whilst educating tourists and provide them with another source of income, as well as it being a conservation tool. In September President of the Republic, Alan García Perez signed the new General Tourism Law in a ceremony at Pachacamac, (an important archaeological site 25 miles from Lima), in the presence of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Martin Perez. The government has passed this new law declaring the national interest of tourism to aid the development of the country. It enforces that primarily Peruvian citizens benefit from tourism, which will directly influence the economic growth, and stability of the country. www.promperu.info.uk

r:travel | 81


HIGHLY COMMENDED Rekero, Kenya

mechanics and other skilled tradesmen, and many have moved on to become private contractors running their own businesses. Rekero provided 10 bursaries to the Koiyaki guiding school, and created opportunities for 24 young Maasai men and women to enter the Kenyan guiding industry, and becomes advocates for Maasai culture. Rekero has also built and equipped a computer classroom for local schools, and funds a full-time teacher. The company has also invested $100,000 to lease 4,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in the area over the past four years. With the help of other tourism partners this area – which sits on the frontline of the Mara

Opening up a way of life

ecosystem – has now grown to 65,000 acres and is known as the Mara North Conservancy, providing a sanctuary for species that might be pushed out through illegal charcoal preparation, population pressures and land clearing for farming.

With their traditional way of life threatened by poverty, social pressures and global warming, the tribal people of the Maasai Mara are increasingly having to take part in the cash economy, and unless they are earning money are facing the alternative of leaving their villages to look for work in the towns. The two 2009 highly commended awards in this category both go to organisations which are helping the Maasai find their way out of poverty – while ensuring they are able to conserve their culture

As part of Rekero’s commitment to water conservation, the Rekero Trust has installed a 50,000-litre water tank to provide clean drinking water for children at Ngousani School and a 6,000-litre tank on the computer classroom. Marketing manager Gordie Owles adds: ‘The biggest challenge faced within the Masai is the cultural barriers and customs. As a people they are bound to act in certain

A

round 22 years ago, Kenya

Rekero encourages village visits to help

ways so it is a case of encouraging them to

farmers Ron and Pauline

foster a positive approach to the local

identify how best to tackle the problem in

Beaton set up a tourism

community. ‘These visits are in-depth

ways that do not directly challenge customs.’

company in the Masai

explorations of a way of life, not an

www.rekero.com

Mara. Their vision: to play an active

activity,’ says Rekero’s managing director

role in protecting the game reserve and

Gerard Beaton. ‘They are designed to help

empowering its immediate community.

stop Western ways eroding local customs,

Today, the business is run by their son Gerard, his wife Rainee and their partner, Jackson Ole Looseyia (above), who joined

and to maximise visitors’ understanding of local values and traditions.’ Rekero’s philosophy is of sustainability.

Rekero at the outset as a junior tracker,

It currently employs 60 local people, from

becoming the first Maasai guide. He now

senior management to temporary work.

helps to run the community association

In 2009/2010, 80 per cent of the wage

that supports Rekero’s community work.

bill will go to the local community. With

Rekero runs two fully-catered houses all

each employee originating from a family

year round and a tented eco-camp for ten

of at least ten, more than 500 people are

months (it’s dismantled for two months to

supported by the opportunities Rekero

allow the site to regenerate).

provides. Employees are trained as drivers,

Guests are always hosted by Maasai and

82 | r:travel

guides, cooks, room staff, night watchmen,

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Rekero celebrates a 22-year history as pioneering cultural tourism in the Maasai Mara, where guests are hosted by the Maasai employees, and 40 per cent of all stock is Maasai-owned. They have provided 10 bursaries to the Koiyaki guiding school for local men and women; employ people from within a 20km radius, and created qualifications to enter the guiding industry as advocates of Maasai culture.’


Highly Commended Best for poverty reduction

A fair deal for the Maasai

increased benefits from this tourism, in

Global Holidays and East African Eagle.

the form of improved schools, running

I know it has been a challenge for many

water and better social facilities. TVC’s next

operationally, but the Maasai would like to

challenge is to expand its work around

extend a heartfelt thanks to them.

Amboseli National Park and eventually Samburu, where the exploitation continues.

F

ew images symbolize Kenyan

Keeping the scheme going remains

‘I am a realist, though. TVC will continue to work on this issue as it is “unfinished business”, but it is not easy.’

tourism more eloquently than the

a challenge for TVC, whose managing

Masai Mara.

director Dr Cheryl Mvula says: ‘The sad

is based on the principle of a ‘hand up

thing is that this could all be completely

rather than a handout’.

But for 30 years inequitable

TVC’s ethos in driving poverty reduction

trading practices between the Maasai

circumvented if the tourism industry in

villages and Kenya’s driver guides meant

Kenya and in client-generating countries

transferring knowledge and skills and

only four per cent of the fees paid reached

got 100 per cent behind this attempt to give

equipping people with the tools needed

the Maasai communities.

equitable returns to the Maasai themselves.

to earn their own monies – usually from

Five years ago, a private company, Tribal

‘While many tour operators are actively

Dr Mvula explains: ‘This involves

tourism – so they can plan and fund

Voice Communications (TVC), was set up to

supporting this initiative, many more are

make travel and tourism more responsible

not. I have sat with tour operators who

with poverty reduction work funded largely

have been extremely hostile saying that if

– takes time. But sometimes small things

through external grants, and income from

they supported it then “our clients would

can make a big difference. The alternative

consultancy work. TVC’s work to develop

only see grass on safari as our driver guides

fuel project we are implementing in Kenya

and promote new ‘fair trade’ excursions

would make sure they saw no wildlife.”

and Zambia (and hopefully Malawi) is

to Maasai cultural manyattas has finally

‘However, there are some real stars

one example. It’s so simple. Using cow

development in their villages themselves.’ ‘Giving the poor a voice – their own voice

ended the exploitative practice in all

out there who are leading the way:

dung, or leaves and waste paper to make

41 villages in the Masai Mara, with the

Abercrombie & Kent, all the lodges in

fuel briquettes means less time-consuming

villages now receiving 75 per cent of the

the Mara triangle, Governors Camps,

and environmentally damaging firewood

excursion fees. A new cashless ticketing

Private Safaris, African Quest, Origin

collection. So it protects the environment

system has meant a transparent flow

Safaris, Gamewatchers Safaris, Shoor

and frees up the women to do other things.

of money into the villages which sell

Travel, Expeditions Africa, Kenya Wildlife

It also gives them a livelihood selling

excursions direct to tour operators.

Trails, Vintage Africa, Pollmans Tours &

surplus briquettes to tourist lodges. A simple

Safaris, Custom Safaris, Safariline Africa,

intervention like this can really change

The villages are seeing the fruits of

lives and help lift them out of poverty.’ www.tribal-voice.co.uk

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

HIGHLY COMMENDED Tribal Voice Communications, UK & Africa

‘In the Masai Mara in Kenya, Tribal Voice Communications worked with local community and industry partners to develop “fair trade” excursions to villages. The new ticketing system has helped to address key issues within the tourism industry in the Mara, seeking to re-establish confidence for the local community in tourist activity. This replicable model of engagement has also facilitated a network connecting local communities with international tour operators active in the area, through for example the Travel Foundation which helped to secure change.’

r:travel | 83


Best destination Winner

Cape crusaders

nature and social justice are at the roots of its efforts. Community Tourism Forums have been established in disadvantaged areas, to raise tourism awareness among communities.

South Africa’s iconic capital, Cape Town is gearing up for its 2010 World Cup showcase with a host of responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives

Guidelines have been drawn up for visitors, encouraging them to respect local cultural, social and religious practices, and the dignity and privacy of others.

I

The City has created tourism

n 2010 the lenses of the world will be

flat-topped mountain is visible from 200km

infrastructure in deprived areas to improve

trained upon South Africa, and upon

out to sea.

economic opportunities for local people,

its capital Cape Town, during the FIFA World Cup. And Cape Town is

Cape Town is readying itself for an influx of visitors by embedding the

shaping up to face the world with pride and

principles of responsible tourism in the

a broad smile…

City of Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism

Cape Town is a diverse city, one regarded

Policy and Action Plan.

as a cultural melting point in Southern

Sustainable livelihoods,

Africa. One would struggle not to fall in

conservation of

love with it. It has one of the most idyllic

culture and

settings – nestled between the ocean and breathtaking mountains. Iconic Table Mountain rises above the city and on a clear day, the

WINNER City of Cape Town

84 | r:travel

such as Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha. It markets community-based tourism initiatives, such as the Cape Care Route, that showcases


arts and crafts, community projects and

in protected nature areas – the biggest

gardens in some of the poorest parts of

being False Bay Ecology Park; it provides

the city, enabling visitors to interact with

bursaries and job placements in the tourism

township residents.

department for disadvantaged students; it

10 MUST-DOS IN CAPE TOWN • Stand in cell number five on the

works to create opportunities for women

freedom landmark, Robben Island

everywhere: from events such as the Cape

in tourism; and it’s developed an energy

(where Nelson Mandela was

Town International Jazz Festival, to the

and climate change strategy, promoting

Xhosa Design Project which has created a

renewable energy, creating a network of

designer-craft range and created long-term

cycle paths and encouraging sustainable

employment for a group of 15 artists.

technologies.

Evidence of its funding efforts is

The City has created a biodiversity

Six Museum • Buy seeds at Kirstenbosch National

Nombulelo Mkefa, tourism director

network which aims to conserve an

for the City of Cape Town is proud of

ecologically representative sample of the

what has been

City’s biodiversity

incarcerated) • Visit the historic and moving District

−>

Botanical Gardens and start a fynbos garden at home • Follow a penguin on Boulders Beach or Stony Point • See sustainable tourism working at grassroots level on the Cape Care Route • Go shopping at the V&A Waterfront complex • Watch whales surface in the many bays along the coast • Explore the Cape Peninsula coastline on the Southern Line Rail Project • Savour the taste and smell of Cape Malay dishes like denningvleis (‘a sweet and spicy lamb stew’) and pienang curry (‘an aromatic curry’) in the Bo-Kaap • Walk up Table Mountain’s Platteklip or Skeleton Gorge and take the cable car down – or vice versa

r:travel | 85


Best destination Winner A TRAIL OF TWO CITIES

−> achieved so far, but realistic about the

When r:travel editor Roger Fulton visited Cape Town five years ago, a tour of Khayelitsha township left a deep impression. So what’s changed today?

challenges ahead. ‘Fifteen years is a short time in a country’s history. We’re still building

IT’S THE FIRST thing you notice as you

now see rows of houses each supplied with

momentum. The biggest challenge is

drive from the airport to the Mother City.

electricity. Of course, there are still shacks,

going to be selling responsible behaviour

Mile upon mile of corrugated shacks, with

often in the backyards of these houses, as

in communities who are now beginning

energy cables fanning from poles like a

the housing backlog is significant and Cape

to afford cars, electricity, a separate

hot-wired maypole. This is Khayelitsha, the

Town also has to contend with the influx

house on their own plot. “Why now

flip side of Cape Town.

from poor rural areas of the country.

when we are buying?” they’ll say. “Go to

Although poverty and unemployment

Constantia where one household has four

of Cape Town’s largest townships, consisting

are still rife, this is a township with its eyes

cars before you preach public transport!”

of both brick-built homes and shacks.

on the future. And its eyes on the benefits

It was created during apartheid in the 1980s, and for many years it was a

tourism can bring. The first thing that’s changed is that you

‘But we are frank about the extent of poverty and inequalities – alleviating this through meaningful economic

desperate place with few facilities and

don’t drive-through-and-gaze. You park

participation by all is a core mandate

little infrastructure.

on the outskirts and walk with a guide,

of the City of Cape Town. Without

engaging with local people.

turning poverty and poor people into a

When I came here about five years ago, it was hard to believe that this

One of the first places you’ll now

spectacle, we try to get tourists to engage

poverty-laden place of two million restless

experience on a visit here is the Look-Out

with the ‘real’ Cape Town – not just the

inhabitants could be a draw for tourists. Yet

Hill tourist facility on the corner of Mew

beautiful beaches of Clifton and sanitised

a few days into my visit I sat in a minibus,

and Spine Road. This new centre, built with

environment of the V&A Waterfront.

staring through closed windows, as we were

R10 million City of Cape Town money,

driven into the heart of Khayelitsha. It felt

consists of an arts and science centre, a

entrepreneurial and creative in opening up

voyeuristic, imposing, us and them.

restaurant, gift shop and information kiosk.

to tourists. The encouraging thing about

The centre has a look-out point on the

our work and the community response has

highest dune with a 360-degree view.

been the developing of products and tours

Then we visited Vicky’s B&B – Cape Town’s smallest hotel, and got a glimpse of a different kind of tourism. Vicky Ntozini

Another popular stop is the Craft Market

‘And the communities have become

that showcase nature-based experiences and heritage assets.

started her B&B in 1999, opening her own

at the St Michael’s and All Angels Anglican

home to visitors. Even then she was a

Church. Here, you can buy all sorts of

well-known figure.

hand-made curios, pottery, beadwork,

shores who otherwise would never have

‘The World Cup will bring people to our

baskets and fabric paintings. The market is

thought they would travel to Cape Town.

and newspaper cuttings that hung on the

aimed at alleviating poverty and goods are

Having them experiencing the destination

wall. We went over the road to the local

made by the local community.

will open up new markets.’

We surveyed pictures from past guests

shebeen and had a beer. We went into the

If you’re feeling peckish, many of

sewing shop and bought woven mats as

the tours make a stop at Gugu le Africa

souvenirs. Better here, it seemed than in

restaurant on Spine Road. Enjoy a

some gift shop in a hotel lobby. And we

traditional Xhosa meal, with a definite

climbed back in the minibus and left.

Cape flair. Owner Abe Bokwe, is one of few

Despite the natural wonders of Cape

kitchens in the city and started a restaurant

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – it was

in Khayelitsha.

Visiting Khayelitsha is different today.

Today township folk are the business people too. Now visitors go there not

The City of Cape Town has made inroads

because it’s a township but because there

in providing housing and the upgrading

are things to do and see.

of physical infrastructure. So, some of the streets are now tidier, more pleasant

The City has even produced a tourism map for the area, showing where to stay,

places exist for children to play and more

eat and visit. Of course, if you are planning

people have houses. On that drive from

on staying over, Vicky’s B&B www.

the airport, along several stretches you’ll

vickysbandb.com) is still the place to be…

86 | r:travel

‘Our expanded and improved public

black chefs who ventured out of restaurant

Town – Table Mountain, False Bay, Khayelitsha that stayed with me.

So is Cape Town ready?

BRUCE SUTHERLAND

Khayelitsha (meaning ‘new home’) is one


SPONSORED BY:

Conservation International

transport system will be ready,’ says Nombulelo. ‘Our stadium is nearing completion, accommodation is being decked out, our volunteers are being trained, safety and security plans are in place. Even the recycling bins are being prepared – yes, we’re ready to welcome the world!’ www.capetown.travel

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘The City of Cape Town has taken responsibility for identifying and prioritising local issues from a responsible tourism perspective. The City’s Tourism Department has worked in conjunction with its colleagues in the city administration and the industry to develop a Responsible Tourism Charter which commits both the industry and the city government to address the local priorities and to report on progress. Signatories have committed to define measurable goals and to monitor and report publicly on progress.’

Some of the most amazing places on Earth are also the most threatened. Conservation International (CI) is a global leader in biodiversity conservation and has more than 20 years of ecotourism experience working in Latin/ South America, Africa and Asia/Pacific regions. CI’s mission is to conserve the Earth’s living heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature. With 840 million people travelling each year and over 33,000 protected areas worldwide, ecotourism is a growing source of revenue for the management of protected areas, and the communities living within and around them. CI’s ecotourism programmes help forge a direct link between the economic benefits from ecotourism and the protection of biodiversity through ecotourism concessions in protected areas, ecotourism job creation, tourism business development support, and developing constituencies through strong partnerships with protected area managers, the private sector, tourism ministries, community organisations and others. With thoughtful tourism policies, strategic planning, and community involvement, ecotourism development can help ensure sustainable use of natural resources as well as increase benefits for the local communities, who are their stewards. www.conservation.org

−> r:travel | 87


Best destination Highly Commended HIGHLY COMMENDED Kent Downs AONB Unit

Ups of the Downs

R

esponsible tourism may often

recreation to strategic development. But

be about the impact of tourism

basically, they are there to look after the

reinvent wheels and if there is good practice

in developing countries, but it

landscape, wildlife and heritage, and

out there we will unashamedly draw from

also begins at home.

encourage communities to learn about and

it. So we look at what other AONBs and

celebrate their area.

National Parks are doing in UK. We also

Cornwall, the Peak District and the New

Forest have all figured in this or previous

‘We probably are the closest you get to

Adds Johannsen: ‘We try hard not to

make a point of looking overseas and work

Responsible Tourism Awards, and the

a one-stop shop for the Kent Downs, and,

with the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps

‘highly commended’ accolade bestowed

of course, we provide the strategy for the

et Marais d’Opale and have carried out

upon Kent Downs this year again highlights

landscape – which includes the responsible

research with Europarc to look more widely

the vital work being done in many parts of

tourism work,’ says Johannsen.

at protected landscapes in Europe. That said

the UK to raise awareness of the theory and practice of sustainable tourism. The Kent Downs stretches from the white

Typical of the unit’s achievements is the

believe others look at us too.’

£2.5 million project in the Medway Gap, an

www.kentdowns.org.uk

cliffs of Dover to the Surrey/London borders.

area of high industrial development and

It is a diverse and vibrant landscape with

social deprivation on the edge of the AONB.

dramatic chalk escarpments, secluded dry

Valley of Visions runs events for local people

valleys, networks of tiny lanes and historic

and visitors, promotes tourism, improves

hedgerows, ancient woodlands, traditional

the landscape and access to it, and provides

orchards, distinctive villages, unique and

support and training to the communities

precious wildlife and many sites of historic

and individuals who live and work there.

and cultural interest. It was officially

Another successful project brought

designated an area of outstanding natural

together six communities in the Mid

beauty, in 1968, and it’s the job of the Kent

Kent Downs to identify and develop local

Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

tourism needs. Two active local tourism

Unit (AONB) to conserve and enhance it.

groups emerged – Chilham Tourism and

The AONB Unit started with just one

Retailers Group and the First Light Coast

officer in 1997 and has now has a core

and Country Group. Two other villages,

team of around 4-5 people and project

Doddington and Newnham linked up to

team of 12 people, all under director

launch a website www.twokentvillages.org.

Nick Johannsen. The unit works with

And Harrietsham Parish Council found

a multitude of partners to support the

an ingenious way to resolve a problem

needs of agriculture, rural industries and

of vandalism on the Pilgrims Way trail,

local communities. Its remit is vast, from

installing a sculpture of a resting pilgrim…

88 | r:travel

we pride ourselves on being innovators and

Valley of Visions Scheme, a three-year,

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘A partnership between Kent County Council and community stakeholders, the Kent Downs AONB Unit is dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and habitats across the entire Kent Downs, through supporting the needs of rural industry, local communities, and managing tourist activity. They are having a direct and positive impact on the local supply chain: the “Orchards for everybody” scheme has engaged both the local community and visitors to preserve the 400-year-old heritage of 300ha of traditional orchard.’


Best personal contribution Winner

WINNER Gavin Bate, founder of Adventure Alternative and the Moving Mountains Trust

From slums to peaks: this is how mountains are moved

A

bout 12 years ago, when

people running the Kenya company are

I run it from the mountains where I climb

Gavin Bate was living in the

former street children, and while they are

with my Sherpas and porters, and from the

Kibera slums of Nairobi, in

like my family, Kelly is like my son.’

communities where I employ people.

Kenya, a nine-year-old street

kid tried to pickpocket him. A friendship developed, reinforced by

Inspired by the ‘pro-poor tourism’ which

‘The people I was working with were my

he saw in post-Apartheid South Africa,

friends. I wanted to give them proper

Gavin began Adventure Alternative in 1991

long-term jobs, rather than short-term

hours and days spent on the streets, and

as a small expedition company. He started

work. So I put all my money into setting

in the boy Gavin recognised a natural wit

up several other companies in Kenya,

up larger offices in the countries where we

and intellect which, he says, ‘simply had

Tanzania, Russia and Nepal which became

went, that rather than glossy brochures.

to be given opportunity to grow’. He put

satellite offices to Adventure Alternative.

him through school, and now, aged 22,

Providing financial resources and advice on

‘alternative’ in his company name. ‘When

Kelly Kioko is the director of Gavin’s Kenya

management principles enabled Gavin to

I began, adventure travel was not the

subsidiary Africampers.

ensure no outsourcing or middle-men, plus

industry juggernaut it is today. That’s not

full employment in the host countries and

necessarily bad, it’s just a reflection of

Kelly is now a trustee of Moving Mountains

an executive decision on issues such as local

the world we live in. The motivations for

Kenya, which is the operational wing of the

salaries, sustainability and the environment.

the industry today are very different from

Although Adventure Alternative has a

the way they were 20 years ago. It’s more

small office in Ireland, Gavin’s UK costs are

of a commercial motivation rather than

very low. ‘I do not run it just from my office,

people doing it because they come from

Once supported by Moving Mountains,

charity in East Africa. ‘I thought immediately that there was a light there,’ says Gavin, adding: ‘All 28

90 | r:travel

Gavin has long championed the


the trust – which has an annual spend of

SPONSORED BY:

around £100,000 – goes towards projects

Tourism Ireland

in the countries they work in. Gavin himself has raised funds for Moving Mountains through five expeditions to climb Mount Everest. Moving Mountains operates under the tenet that charity and commerce can work together, that ‘charity’ is not about just handing out money, but empowering people. Money, while important, is a tool to assist and not, in itself, an end to poverty. Gavin says: ‘I am very proud of having

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Gavin Bate has proven with a number of projects that it is possible to share the benefits of responsibly run adventure travel with local communities in developing countries. His dedicated ethos led him to found and hand over the reigns of adventure travel projects in Kenya, Nepal and Tanzania to local individuals, providing them with a minimum of ten years full employment, and the training, guidance, and inspiration necessary for a new vanguard in responsible tourism. As a serial entrepreneur, Gavin has worked hard to put local individuals at the heart of local initiatives.’

at last created a successful partnership between commerce and charity. Long-term developmental aid projects in both Nepal and Kenya are given capital investment by the charity, but they achieve true sustainability through the active and relevant use of tourist income. ‘This “trade not aid” policy is integral to the trips I run, from safaris to gap trips, medical electives, volunteering holidays and treks.’ He adds: ‘People are continually amazed by the happiness of my staff, which reflects the fact that I have always developed them along the lines of a “family”. It works well, because I’ve spent so much time building up the relationships. I am seeing the ripple effect of nearly 20 years of work in slums and remote areas, and it is truly fulfilling. The future is to use this template in new areas, but also to ensure that it can succeed without my input. That will prove the success of the concept.

a travelling background. What used to be

‘I live a fairly dangerous life, climbing

something special has become a bit of a

high mountains and guiding to a high level,

yellow brick road.’

so the “weakness” would be that everything

Much as he loves adventure and

is dependent on me. I needed to be sure

travel, Gavin always had this plan to link

that if I am killed, the “alternative” in my

commerce with charity. In 2002, he created

“adventures” would continue without me.’

Moving Mountains, to tackle issues of

Now 43, Gavin is keen to ‘withdraw’

poverty and child rehabilitation, on the

from his work and leave it in the hands

back of years of experience working for aid

of the people in the host countries. He

agencies and living in the slums on and off

adds: ‘Ultimately, I’m a climber and I like

for six years, while he was travelling and

travelling. I just want to be able to do that

working in Africa

still. I’ve met quite a few people in the

Adventure Alternative pays for the

Tourism Ireland is responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas. As such, we have entered the responsible tourism market with one major marketing advantage. Ireland is green. This is why people choose to visit us, and that is why we have taken a serious commitment to keeping it that way. We are listening to our visitors’ requests to preserve our natural and cultural heritage. We are also taking our tourism providers’ need for sustainability seriously too. And most crucially, we are all too aware that responsible tourism in Ireland can play a major role in the fight to combat climate change, and we are striving to lessen our impact as urgently as possible. Ireland has a rapidly growing number of responsible tourism products. With low-impact activity breaks such as cycling or walking, kayaking or canoeing, to wildlife and conservation breaks, from whale-watching to environmental photography breaks. However, sustaining our cultural heritage is an equally important feature of our responsible tourism products. Such as language holidays in our Gaelic-speaking regions, or cookery courses overlooking the very lakes where the ingredients are caught. All these are growing sectors in Irish tourism. We are honoured to be sponsoring the Responsible Tourism Award 2009 for Best personal contribution. Apart from its many shades of green, Ireland is also famous for its people. It is the welcoming, friendly individuals who make up the face of Irish tourism as a whole. Similarly, it is the wide range of individuals working to make a difference in the world, who make up the face of international responsible tourism. We are delighted to applaud them and to learn from them. www.tourismireland.com

industry who started out that way and we

admin costs and overheads for Moving

all agree it’s in the blood.’

Mountains, which means every donation to

www.adventurealternative.com

r:travel | 91


Best personal contribution Highly Commended

‘It’s all about joining stuff up’

C

oaST, the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project, describes itself as a ‘tiny but tenacious social enterprise, based in a

refurbished barn in Cornwall. Four women and one man, who variously encourage, inform, network, research, lobby, measure, persuade, object, question, bend ears, break boundaries and never knowingly give up.’ Created on the back of an envelope seven years ago by founder Manda Brookman

HIGHLY COMMENDED Manda Brookman

and her first CoaST co-worker, Philippa Collette, it’s basically about ‘joining stuff

and everything starts to add up. We can’t

up’. It started in Cornwall, because, well,

find anything else quite like CoaST and we

that’s where Manda was, and tourism is a

have been looking to learn! I didn’t invent

big deal in Cornwall. (It provides work for

networking but the idea of applying it

one in five Cornish inhabitants, and, with

to sustainable tourism is working a treat

5.5 million visitors a year, it’s responsible

– so much so that other sectors are now

for almost a quarter of the money the

getting engaged. As one member says, it

county makes each year.)

now involves us all working together – Way

everything right overnight,’ she adds.

Beyond Tourism.

‘But every small step adds up to make

But such has been the success CoaST has had in joining stuff up in Cornwall,

‘We all need somewhere to start. And

that it’s now joining stuff up in more

one of the ways we do this is by running

than 50 counties and has 1,000 members

a UK-wide network to help everyone

throughout the UK and Europe.

everywhere figure this out: the One Planet

And much of that success has been due to the drive and passionate commitment of

Tourism Network.’ Before CoaST, Manda worked in London

Manda, a 40-something dynamo, who won

for an environmental web-based network

a Cornwall Women of Achievement Award

back in the early 90s. She then ran a winter

in 2007 for her work on environment and

homeless shelter in Bristol, worked in a

sustainability.

day centre for the homeless, and spent six

‘The original idea was to set up a model sustainable tourism campsite to act as an

years with Bristol’s Recycling Consortium. In the early days of CoaST Manda fought

ambassador for the issues and solutions

hard for funding to hand hold a cluster

linked to tourism,’ says Manda. ‘It soon

of businesses, to get them ready to help

became clear that what was needed was

demonstrate and share best practice. By

a support agency to help other businesses

2006 she had a small crusade of CoaST

understand the issues around sustainability,

Ambassadors, all helping to show the world

adapt behaviour and share best practice.

what sustainability is really about.

‘We’re all about helping people see

Now Manda is being approached to

the connection between what we do and

replicate the network model, the business

the impact it has economically, socially

support tools, and most recently the entire

and environmentally. Then we help them

website structure. She is already helping

move on to the next bit, when two or three

other destinations adapt the CoaST model.

things come together in someone’s mind

‘There isn’t one single way of making

92 | r:travel

a difference.’ www.cstn.org.uk

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Manda’s work has been at the heart of the development of sustainable tourism in Cornwall. The founding of CoaST and her innovative, dynamic approach has developed ambassadors in and engaged businesses on best practice in responsible tourism. Manda has demonstrated real leadership in building with colleagues and members a strong movement for sustainable tourism in Cornwall, one which stretches deep into the industry supply chain. Manda has not shrunk from raising the tough questions, through One Planet Tourism, about how tourism can continue in a finite world.’


Highly commended Best personal contribution

HIGHLY COMMENDED Chris Thompson, Travelife Sustainability Manager, ABTA Ltd

‘Each success story is a win in its own way’

S

ix years ago Chris Thompson

And it’s working. ‘Knowing that thousands

found himself thrown into the

of suppliers are using the system gives me

deep end when he was given the

a great sense of pride. Interest is growing

job of setting up a Responsible

exponentially, with Russia becoming its

Tourism Unit for the Federation of Tour Operators. He went from almost no experience

most recent advocate,’ he says. Looking back on the past five years, Chris, 46, says: ‘Selling the business case

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ‘Chris Thompson’s enthusiastic and tireless input into the development of the Travelife Sustainability Programme has helped to establish a new responsible grading scheme for hotels used by the UK outbound operators and to provide a market advantage for those hotels which are graded. His determination and persistence on establishing the platform has facilitated the opportunity for clear and transparent labelling and change within the industry.’

to ‘leader’ in double quick time. His

for sustainability wasn’t easy at first; it

task was to bring sustainability into the

took a lot of effort to persuade businesses

mainstream of the travel industry and unite

to devote resources to it. These days all

tour operators in a shared vision of how

mainstream businesses know that they are

‘responsible’ could work for them. He was

leaving themselves wide open to criticism

also the bridge between the tour operators

if they fail to address global issues such as

and the newly created Travel Foundation of

climate change, poverty alleviation and

package that we deliver are well managed

whom the industry was suspicious.

management of resources such as water.

and that we provide clear messages that

Businesses are also waking up to the fact

help shape the decisions they make.

MyTravel, Thomas Cook, TUI and First Choice were eager to show that their own

that there are definite benefits to be gained

RT initiatives were bearing fruit and quickly

from taking sustainability seriously.’

signed up to the new unit. With the big four

He believes the consumer is critical to the

While Chris is cautiously optimistic about the future, he does admit: ‘We will never be 100 per cent sustainable. By its very

on board, Chris was then able to bring all

success of responsible tourism. ‘We can do

nature, tourism will always have impacts

operators into the fold, and he launched the

all we can to make it easy for them to play

on communities and destinations, but

Travel Foundation Industry Unit, bringing

their part but we can’t make them do it,

we can manage those impacts in a more

together FTO, ABTA and AITO members to

particularly when we don’t have influence

sustainable way. When I look at the positive

collaborate on a shared programme with

over all elements of their overall holiday

differences we are making in so many

the Travel Foundation.

experience. Each consumer has a unique

destinations I have to say that each success

“footprint” and it is unrealistic to think that

story is a win in its own way.’

From there Chris has developed the Travelife Sustainability Programme, taking

we can somehow cover all bases. We can,

the principles down into the supply chain.

however, make sure that the parts of the

www.travelifecollection.com

r:travel | 93


View from the judges’ bench

And the winner is… responsible tourism A good year for responsible tourism? Harold Goodwin, director of the International Centre of Responsible Tourism, and chair of the awards judges, gives an overview of the Responsible Tourism Awards and looks back over the highs and lows of the past 12 months

Above: whale watching in Kaikoura. Below: judging in London

Yes, it’s been a good year for

The recession has made no difference

The airline industry is an industry in

responsible tourism…

to the responsibility agenda…

denial…

For a start the recession has reduced the

If anything it’s heightened people’s

Some companies are doing a great deal by

number of aircraft flying around the world,

awareness of the need for local economic

way of seeking to reduce the amount of

so that’s reduced the amount of carbon

benefits. For example, while a 30 per cent

carbon pollution per passenger mile, but we

being released into the atmosphere! But

reduction in international visitors to the

need to push airlines to be far more efficient.

responsible tourism is now very much

Gambia in the first three months of

part of the mainstream industry, there’s

2009 had a devastating impact on the

And as for green taxes…

increasing interest in it around the world

benefits of tourism, but has not reduced

Fuel taxation would be a much fairer

and there have been some remarkable

anybody’s commitment to make tourism

way of putting financial pressure on the

achievements in destinations.

more responsible.

airlines to reduce their fuel consumption

Responsible tourism is not just about

Responsible tourism is a good friend

passenger duty (APD), which everyone

the developing world…

in a crisis…

would have to pay regardless of whether

Many people think it is, but worrying about

Responsible tourism has much more

they were travelling with a carbon-efficient

local economic development and the impact

difficulty finding traction in situations

carrier. There’s no incentive for the airline

on local communities of the way you travel

where everybody thinks everything is fine,

to improve its performance if it simply relies

also affects the developed world. The impact

but where people are up against it, for

on APD. If we’re serious about a green tax,

of mass tourism in Greece is a product of

example in Kenya, the need for responsible

that tax should encourage better behaviour

European tourists in a European destination.

tourism becomes greater.

from the polluter and APD does not do

per passenger mile, rather than the air

that. Moreover, it discriminates against destinations where tourism is the only

HOW ARE THE AWARDS JUDGED?

alternative. In the Caribbean, for example, ‘we’ set up colonies there, and moved in

THE NOMINATIONS for each category are sent to one of our Masters or PhD students in

slaves to grow sugar and tobacco. We

the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. They read through the nominations

decided to grow our own sugar and decided

and do some basic research on them. As chair, I moderate that process and sometimes

that we didn’t like tobacco and left them

a nomination is moved to a more appropriate category. The top 15 or so are then sent

essentially with tourism as the only way of

questionnaires and the nominees asked to tell us what they have achieved on the social,

engaging with the global economy and now

economic and environmental aspects of responsible

we’re threatening their tourism.

tourism. They are also asked to provide references, which we take up and give to the judges. Two

The awards have got tougher

judges work together on each category to select

this year…

three or four nominees which they then present to

As the much-appreciated markers

the rest of the panel and make a recommendation.

who put in so much work into the

These are debated, drawing on judges’ knowledge

long-listing process will tell you, the

and additional background provided by

number of nominations continues

independent referees approached by me as chair.

to rise – and so does the standard.

There is usually a keen debate but generally a

It’s certainly true that people who

consensus emerges, occasionally there is a vote.

were winning two or three years ago

94 | r:travel


View from the judges’ bench would not necessarily win now. But also,

takes them longer because of their size, but

upped their game. Similarly, Kaikoura in

we’ve got a fair number of people who’ve

I do welcome their progress.

the marine category; in order to reduce the

won or been highly commended in the

And it’s good to see the strength of

impact of their whale-watching but increase

past and have come up again. And to get

change in cruising. One swallow doesn’t

their numbers they’ve made the boats

recognised again year after year is not easy

make a summer, but it is a big swallow. A

bigger but used quieter engines and

because you’ve got to demonstrate that

very big swallow and it does demonstrate

propulsion to give them a low impact

you’ve done something significant since

that people can move. A lot of that is

beneath the waves. Kaikoura were worthy

the last time. Those who achieve that have

around the environmental agenda and

overall winners: what they’ve achieved

done stunningly well.

there are still social and economic issues to

blew me away.

address. But at least we’ve started, and one You can be a volume operator and

of the principles of responsible tourism from

And finally…

still be incredibly responsible…

day one was to recognise when people

The Responsible Tourism Awards were

The efforts made within Virgin Holidays,

make progress. Of course, we won’t stop

established to recognise good practice and

Tui and Thomas Cook to improve what

campaigning to get them to do more. And

spread knowledge. They still do that. We

they’re doing are noteworthy. They are

in the carbon category, what Alcatraz has

have always looked for the new and the

grinding through a lot of hard work, which

done is very impressive. They’ve really

innovative and we continue to do that.

Meet the judges HAROLD GOODWIN, chair of the

GRAHAM BOYNTON is group

GRAEME GOURLAY is the

judges, is professor of Responsible

travel editor of the Telegraph Media

publisher of Geographical magazine

Tourism Management at Leeds

Group, a position he has held for

and runs Circle Publishing which

the past ten years. He is also the author of

also produces DIVE, Active, Snow, r:travel

International Centre for Responsible Tourism

Last Days In Cloud Cuckooland, which deals

and Christian Aid News.

– a post-graduate research and training

with the end of colonial rule in Africa.

Metropolitan University and director of the

IAN REYNOLDS was chief

centre, where he runs an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management.

ANDREW COOPER is director of government and external affairs

JUSTIN FRANCIS is managing

of the Thomas Cook group

executive of the Association of British Travel Agents from 1994 until September 2005. Among his current roles is director of NTP Limited,

director of online travel agency TRICIA BARNETT is the director

which provides training throughout the

and organisers of The Responsible Tourism

of Tourism Concern, the UK-based

travel industry.

Awards. He also runs travel community

charity that campaigns for ethical

responsibletravel.com, founders

website www.iknowagreatplace.com.

and fairly-traded tourism.

NEEL INAMDAR is the ecotourism business advisor for Conservation

FIONA JEFFERY is chairman

KEITH RICHARDS is a barrister

of World Travel Market, and

and ABTA’s head of business

advisor between private corporations and

development and consumer affairs.

non-governmental organisations.

chairman/founder of the

International, and a liaison and

international travel and tourism industry

He is responsible for policy and strategy

charity – Just a Drop, which aims to deliver

work on corporate responsibility including

DR REBECCA HAWKINS is

clean water to more than 1.1 billion

sustainable development, holiday health

research and consultancy fellow

children worldwide.

and safety, and disability access issues.

to the Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management at

DEBBIE HINDLE is the managing

SUE HURDLE is the chief executive

Oxford Brookes University; visiting professor

director and a founder of bgb

of The Travel Foundation, the

to the International Centre for Responsible

communications and has worked

government and industry-backed

Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University,

on sustainable travel issues for organisations

sustainable tourism charity that helps the

a core member of the Considerate Hoteliers

ranging from tourist boards to NGOs. She is

UK travel industry to take effective action on

Association management team and Director

also a member of the United Nations World

sustainable tourism.

of the consultancy group CESHI Ltd.

Tourism Organisation’s Crisis Action Team.

r:travel | 95


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area go directly to the project. During our

Ocean tsunami devastated

visit, we discover the authentic Thailand, far

south Asia and shocked the

away from typical tourist activities, gain an

world. People around the

insight into its everyday culture, and engage

globe were eager to help in the immediate

with the local people in an unforgettable

aftermath, but the chance to provide long-

way. We receive an introduction to the

term support in one affected region arised

sustainable tourism concept: the needs of

some time later, when the Beluga School for

the local ecology, economy and community

Life, an aid project from the Bremen-based

are balanced with the needs of tourists, and

project and heavy-lift cargo company Beluga

everyone involved profits equally.

Shipping GmbH, opened in Thailand. The biologist Dr Channiwat Treesri treks It is March 2009: I have come to stay in the

with us through the jungle around the

guesthouses of the Beluga School for Life,

school premises. His impressive knowledge

and I am enjoying the pleasant weather

of the local flora and fauna and his

and the relaxed Thai lifestyle on the patio of

disarming hospitality put us at ease, and

one of the tasteful bungalows in the small

we truly enjoy the breathtaking beauty and

village of Na Nai, near the tourist resort of

variety of the surrounding nature. Later

Khao Lak – an area badly affected by the

on, in the Center for Organic Farming, Dr

tsunami. The school opened here in October

Treesri captivates us: the cultivation of fruit

2006 to offer a home and a future to more

and vegetables on the Beluga site helps

than 150 children who lost their parents

to develop an understanding of natural

in the disaster, as well as to adults in need.

processes and reinforces the concept of

‘Sawaat dii ka’ – this welcome greeting from

sustainability in the project. This is just one

the people here comes from the heart, and

of the many modules that help to educate

my initial apprehension as I arrive, given

and inform guests of the school about

that the tragic events of 2004 are still within

Thai nature and culture.

recent memory, quickly falls away. Of course, a great deal of work is The children live, attend school and

still in progress, and until the project

experience cultural activities here; the

gains financial independence, further

adults can receive professional training,

development and improvement is necessary.

work in harmony with nature and find

But courage, dedication, unconventional

jobs. The school helps those affected by

methods and an abundance of ideas

tragedy to cope with and actively overcome

exemplify the spirit of the Beluga School for

their challenges with a positive attitude.

Life and its desire to move forward to offer

But it also needs further support, and, as

its children the prospect of a happy life.

tourists, our stay provides a small financial contribution. All the proceeds from the guest

Dr Ute Fehnker

for more information

www.charity-travel-thailand.com • info@charity-travel-thailand.com

r:travel | 97


The trip that changed my life It was like a dream, but if I thought the

The Pole stars

agony of getting to the start line was tough, then nothing could have prepared me for the wilds of Antarctica, the coldest, driest, windiest place on earth, with an average summer temperature of minus 50 degrees.

TV presenter, writer and adventurer Ben Fogle had already raced 160 miles across the Sahara desert in the notorious Marathon Des Sables and rowed the Atlantic in 49 days with Olympian James Cracknell, when the pair teamed up again with Bristolian Ed Coats for a 900km foot race to the South Pole, which saw Ben push himself to the limits of his endurance

It was one of the most beautiful, yet terrifying places I have ever been, an environment that can change on a whim, and a place that has the power to choose life or death. We raced for more than 16 hours a day, navigating crevasse fields and over sastrugi (sharp irregular grooves or ridges on the snow surface). James’s health deteriorated at an alarming rate, both Ed and I soon fell foul of Antarctica’s bite and on more than one occasion it looked as if we would have to pull out of the race. Many people have trekked to the South Pole before us and of course many more will continue to be drawn to the white continent. But the pressure of racing meant we didn’t have time to stop and look after ourselves. Somehow, though, we found the strength and willpower to carry on. The last 30 miles dragged on and on, the finish line like a mirage. I can’t begin to explain the joy, the happiness, the excitement and the nervousness of seeing the ceremonial ball

T

he wind was howling around

the perfect challenge.

and her flags that mark the point of the

us, whipping the snow into a

But it nearly didn’t happen. Shortly

South Pole. It was dreamlike. We skied

frenzy. Visibility was reduced

after returning from South America, just

towards it like disciples descending on

to zero as the cold, cutting air

a month before the race, I fell ill with an

Mecca. We had become pilgrims to one of

bit through our thick polar clothes. We had

unknown lurgy. Doctors at the London

the geographical wonders of the world.

been on the Antarctic continent for nearly

School of Tropical Diseases eventually

I collapsed onto my knees and cried

two months. Our bodies and minds were in

diagnosed me with muco cutaneaous

my eyes out. They were tears of happiness

tatters, but just 30 miles separated us from

Leishmaniasis, a relatively uncommon

for our achievement against the odds. All

our goal, the South Pole.

parasite that eats away at the skin, causing

my life I have been plagued by a lack of

facial mutilation and, if untreated, death.

confidence and self-esteem. Completing this

point, beset by a series of unlucky events

It was a massive blow. Nearly 18 months

international race pushed me to the limits

that threatened to shatter our dreams on

of planning, training and organising were

of my mental and physical capabilities.

a number of occasions. Between three of

hanging in the balance.

Succeeding was one of the best feelings I

It had been an arduous journey to this

us we had lost eight stone in weight, we’d

Treatment involved a daily IV infusion of

have ever had and just completing it helped

had pneumonia, asthma, foot ulcers,

a highly toxic compound that was enough

put the everyday issues of

hypothermia and frostbite. Even with just

to kill the parasite but not me. Within days,

my life into perspective.

30 miles to go, things weren’t looking great.

however, I was bedbound with pneumonia

Neither James nor I had had any

and unable to walk. The doctors gave me a

Ben Fogle and James

previous polar experience, neither of us had

40/60 chance of making the start line. Just

Cracknell’s Race to

spent much time on cross country skis and

five days before we were due to depart, they

the Pole is out now

we both hated the cold. It had sounded like

gave me the all clear.

(Macmillan £19.99)

98 | r:travel


www.virginholidays.com/human-nature

Profile for Alex Lyons

r:travel, Responsible Tourism Awards magazine  

Official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2009

r:travel, Responsible Tourism Awards magazine  

Official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2009

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