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Transformational Tourism 2006 - 2016

celebrating a decade of best practice in responsible tourism & life-changing travel across South and South East Asia


This publication is brought to you by Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative Wild Asia is a social enterprise that helps the tourism industry meet and exceed global standards for sustainability. In 2006, Wild Asia founded its annual Responsible Tourism Awards to identify and recognise regional leaders in environmentally and socially sound business practices. The mission was to collect stories and achievements, to communicate those within the travel industry, and to inspire others to follow their replicable best practices. Written by: Amy McLoughlin Special thanks to our contributors: Ayako Ezaki Deborah Chan Mei Leong Paul Eshoo Peter Richards

Acknowledgements Over the last decade the following sponsors and team members, including voluntary Judges, have made our Awards possible. We’d like to take this opportunity to show our gratitude to the following people and more - Agata Zborowska, Andrew Jones, Anne Zummach, Arabella Lakin, Asit Biswas, Ayako Ezaki, Charlotte Adam, Charmarie Maelge, Chi Lo, Deborah Chan, Gonthong Lourdesamy, Gopinath Parayil, GIZ, Ian Hall, Jens Thraenhart, Jules Ong, Keresa, Les Clark, Malaysia Airlines, Mam Sakulpitakphon, Marcello Notarianni, Masaru Takayama, Mei Leong, Melissa Cornejo, Mihee Kang, Paul Eshoo, Peter Richards, Raj Gyawali, Reza Azmi, Roi Ariel, Rose Nicolas de Sales, Shafinaz Suhaimi, Sharyn Shufiyan, Steve Noakes, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, Vicky Nair. Images featured in this document have kindly been supplied by previous Awardees. Presented by the Responsible and Inclusive Business Hub Southeast Asia (RIBH SEA) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)


Contents Foreword Letter from the Director Responsible Tourism Awards Inspirational stories • • • • • • • • • •

Agri Tourism, India Andaman Discoveries, Thailand Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia CBT Vietnam, Vietnam ChildSafe Movement, Cambodia El Nido Resorts, Philippines LooLa Adventure Resort, Indonesia Ock Pop Tok, Laos PEPY Tours, Cambodia Soneva Resorts, Maldives and Thailand

Awardees to date Summary of best practices Moving forward


Foreword Each year, more than one billion people travel across international borders. A growing number of tourism businesses are finding innovative ways to make these travellers and their hosts a source of positive impact at the destination. Especially in a high growth market like Asia, tourism can be a significant lever for sustainable development and inclusive growth. For the past 10 years, Wild Asia has promoted the pioneer businesses, which lead the way towards responsible tourism through its award scheme. The models, through which these businesses support positive economic, environmental and social development, are plentiful: Including local communities in the tourism value chain in a mutually beneficial manner can reduce inequalities and improve the livelihoods of marginalized groups. An expansive value chain ranging from hospitality, gastronomy and transport to construction, maintenance, services, activities, crafts and nature conservation offers vast opportunities for inclusion. Furthermore, attaching value to local culture and the environment – for the enjoyment of tourists and the local community – can be a strong force of protection. However, it is important to point out that such green and inclusive business models are not only good for development but are in fact good business! Responsible tourism offers match a rapidly growing demand across the globe - both with a new generation of tourists and experienced travellers. The tourism industry benefits from a vivid exchange of best practices surrounding them.

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To facilitate it, the Responsible and Inclusive Business Hub Southeast Asia (RIBH SEA), implemented by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has joint forces with Wild Asia. One of the results of this collaboration is in your hands: A review of selected awardees of the past 10 years, which we hope will inspire and capacitate others to follow their lead. We see this award review as a milestone for Responsible Tourism in the region, which offers guidance for the next section of the way and look forward to embarking on this journey with you.

Sarah Schwepcke Head - Responsible and Inclusive Business Hub Southeast Asia (RIBH) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


Letter from the Director The birth of Wile Asia’s Responsible Tourism Awards began at a time when the Internet was in its infancy and initial murmurs of sustainable tourism were just beginning in this part of the world. As a group of conservationists who were already exploring ways to work with industries, when many others fought against them, and we were excited about how travel might solve development issues. We took the pragmatic approach to realizing that if sustainable tourism would flourish, we need a community of responsible business owners. So we began the Awards to find these leaders, and to learn and document what indeed made them different. By calling it an “Award” the emphasis was on recognizing those that really stand out. From the get go, credibility was important to us and we had worked very hard, evolving many different ways of doing this, to make the process as transparent and objective as possible. Over time, our Awards have grown from a grassroots movement facilitating third party verification, to a regional panel of industry leaders supporting our judging process. To give value to the Awards, we need to communicate far and wide and we envisaged that we needed to harness the Internet to communicate our results, as then, when you have limited budgets it was probably the fastest way to get attention globally! We have been fortunate to have been supported by a selection of engaged media partners, from local to global. Looking back to a fortuitous grant from the British High Commission, who gave us the start-up grant (and the credibility) to kick this off - I am grateful for how lucky I was that I had a circle of colleagues and friends that shared my interest and together we began to grow the “Responsible Tourism Awards”, something that would last decade.

A decade on, and the Internet has become an important change-maker in the tourism sector. One only has to see the way TripAdvisor is now part of most operators’ toolkits. It has also been an important way to access knowledge. For Wild Asia, we believe our era of ‘Responsible Awards’ is no longer as relevant because of this. There are also now many other initiatives that are working directly with operators, highlighting the boom in responsible travel. We feel that it is time to think of new approaches, to build sustainable destinations. At the core of this, we want to focus on building new initiatives that focus on practical interventions and to be directly working with operators to realize their visions. The birth of our “Build for Tomorrow” (our movement which offers design, training, consulting, and building services to support communities in reducing their environmental impact through financially sustainable solutions) is one example of this shift in our approach. This journey has been a rewarding and enriching. It has given me, and indeed the Award community we have crafted, a unique perspective on the challenges of sustainable tourism, but also the inspiration to do more. Thank you to all of those who have been involved.

Dr Reza Azmi Founder & Director Wild Asia rt.wildasia.org


Responsible Tourism Awards How does it work? 1. Call for applicants Business and initiatives come forward and complete an application form, based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. 2. First round of judging An international panel of responsible tourism expert Judges, assess all applications and identify shortlisted candidates for Finalist status. Applicants should meet or exceed relevant criteria, and demonstrate replicable and inspirational best practices, enriched by innovation and passion! (A conflict of interest policy applies) 3. Fact finding & further questions round Judges identify gaps in information collected so far, and present further questions based on the applicants specific location (social and environmental challenges to address) and business type. References are checked, desk based research delivered, and where possible, ‘fact finders’ are sent to visit candidates to learn more and deliver due diligence. 4. Final round of judging Additional information collected is consolidates, and Judges review all Finalists to identify a Winner for each category. 5. Winners announced & celebrated Winners are revealed at ITB Asia (in 2015, we also did this at the PATA Travel Mart) at our annual Responsible Tourism Networking event. Case studies are shared through strategic media partners and open source on the Wild Asia website. rt.wildasia.org

based on 40 global sustainability standards

300 applicants to date

from 15 Asian countries

75 Awards given


Inspirational stories


Agri Tourism, India Agri Tourism was established in 2004 with a mission to create sustainable livelihoods for farmers. Across India, farmers face challenges to get fair prices for their products and lack access to opportunities for alternative incomes. Agriculture has been described as the backbone of the Indian economy, and many Indians find their roots in a history and culture of farming. Pandurang Taware comes from a farming family like those he aims to support, and had a vision that through rural tourism offerings, farmers could address some of their own financial stresses whilst gaining a sense of pride for their heritage. He saw great potential in diversifying farms to welcome visitors, with a variety of culturally immersive activities that could be introduced. Across India, large populations of farmers struggle to survive solely on agriculture, with increasing difficulties to earn a comfortable living. Mr Taware believed that travellers would enjoy the educational opportunity of spending time in remote communities and experiencing a way of life not found in many tourist circuits. His concept felt so alien to many community members in the beginning, with local residents not convinced foreigners would want to see their homeland. He was the first person to rt.wildasia.org

bring outside guests to this part of India, and introduce them to his birthplace and connect them to community members. The initiative was welcomed by the community, and grew from there. The project started with a couple of successful pilot phases, and the popularity of the experiences with domestic urban travellers was great. Agri Tourism eventually set up their own property, a purpose built farm to accommodate guests and plenty of space to grow other tourism based offerings. The project has grown substantially over recent years, and using the expertise and credentials of their own successful property, have engaged hundreds of farmers from across the state of Maharashtra to establish their own tourism initiatives. Today, Agri Tourism consists of its own flagship site and a network of 320 third party agricultural tourism centres, supported through a training model to set up the centres and then through a centralized booking system. Small-scale community based tourism centres are run by farming families. Farmers benefit from an intensive 4 day training which includes the basics of managing their own tourism venture, such as hospitality and management. This is an important first step to build their confidence in


communication skills, as some of the farmers have never received outside guests at all into their village, especially foreigners. Following the training, farmers are awarded with entry into the network and access to use their logo and permission to use the same branding. Guests can enjoy escaping to a slower pace of life in the heart of a rural community whilst learning from and spending time with farmers. The financial benefits of implementing simple tourism offerings, like bed and breakfast accommodation, equates to more than USD $10,000 annual income into the network. This secondary income, which is at least a 25% income increase to farmers, helps address key social challenges of being a farmer in India, such as seasonality of agriculture. At Baramati, Agri Tourism’s main site, visitors can enjoy a large shopping space where local farmers are invited to showcase their produce. Farmers are supported by the program to understand the value of their products, and price them adequately. In addition, the central project also provides marketing for their products all over India, reaching markets farmers otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Activities in the community include visiting different types of farms, such as a sugar farm and learn about the traditional jaggery production, learn to ride a bullock cart or tractor, and practicing kite making and flying.

By attracting travellers from near and far, communities are also observing a small reverse in the trend for urban migration, particularly with their young populations. The presence of visitors has also helped push through local development projects, such as improvements to rural roads, not only does this make access to the farms better for tourists, but local people are benefitting too. As many of the visitors are domestic travellers, the project is also inviting Indians to reconnect with their roots and build a greater appreciation for rural areas and way of life. Around 15% of annual profits at the Baramati centre support localized development initiatives, especially their neighbouring primary school. To date, money has been spent on laptop donations, and basic equipment needs such as uniforms and books. They have also helped the school gain access to clean water for the first time. Baramati is the heart of their activities and celebrates several annual events to bring visitors and community members together. This includes their yearly Kite Festival, which celebrates traditional kite making and flying. They also coordinate events to mark tourism and farming festivals, as an opportunity for continued training and education for local farmers.

At a glance... • In 2013, Pandurang ‘the father of agritourism’, participated in the Indian TV show ‘The Pitch’ and won more 25 lakh rupees of funding to set up a centralized booking system for small-scale farmer come tourism entrepreneurs across rural India • 320 farms have diversified and established tourism activities for alternative livelihoods to supplement agriculture • Their flagship site attracts more than 6,000 visitors each year – many coming from neighbouring cities on weekend breaks or study tours • In 2015, more than USD $100,000 was generated for small-scale farm tourism providers

For more information agritourism.in

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Andaman Discoveries, Thailand Andaman Discoveries (AD) is a communitybased responsible tourism social enterprise that was born out of the North Andaman Tsunami Relief, a project focused on rebuilding communities affected by the 2004 tsunami. Focusing on long-term development strategies to serve the needs of local communities, AD was created through community meetings, in order to use responsible community-based tourism as a means for economic renewal, with villagers seeking to welcome tourists in a way that would positively impact communities hit hard by disaster. Through local volunteer trips, home-stay experiences and authentic community ecotours, AD guests are invited to experience the traditional way of life and to discover the diverse eco-systems in a non-intrusive way. The majority of the profit generated from each village tour goes directly back to the villagers, and AD also supports the village community fund, which helps creates concrete economic opportunities for the villagers who may otherwise have to find employment outside the village. This approach allows community-led development and tourism go hand in hand.

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Some examples of the tour experiences offered by AD include: • Demonstration of traditional net fishing methods by local guides. • Hands-on natural craft activities such as soap making, thatch making from nipa palm leaf, and making a coconut desert. • Cultural exchange programs to share insights into local traditional, spiritual and religious experiences. Ban Talae Nok, one of the seaside villages that have collaborated with AD to offer community tour experiences, has enjoyed various tangible benefits of community-based tourism (CBT), as the program has been sustained in the village for over 10 years. Currently, there are six local families regularly offering homestay accommodations, and several other families are also involved in craft demonstration activities for visitors. According to an estimate based on an analysis by the Wild Asia reviewer, in the past six months, families in Ban Talae Nok that have participated actively in the CBT program would likely have received approximately 35% of additional income

compared to a standard representative local income. Villagers also invest 10% of the income they earn from CBT activities to a community fund, which is allocated towards social work benefiting the whole community (e.g. scholarships for local students, repairs to the local mosque, sponsoring sports days). Other positive side effects of CBT in the village include community-based rules and regulations to help protect the local environment, such as the rule that when a tree is cut down to be used for economic activities, it must be replaced with 10 new trees replanted by the community members that the felled tree. According to a 2014 field research report that looked at AD’s contributions to local sustainable development, most Ban Talae Nok residents recognized positive environmental impacts of tourism. The behavior of the environmentally conscious guests that AD brings to the village have influenced local behavior, as one villager noted, “When locals see … the tourists collecting garbage, it makes locals feel guilty.” The environmental benefits of renewed community awareness and engagement support the long-term well-being of the village, which


was once devastated by the tsunami, and is now one of Thailand’s shining examples of CBT success stories. In 2014, AD helped to launch the North Andaman Network Foundation (NAN), which focuses on creating and implementing sustainable projects supporting the Andaman Coast communities, and helping develop local capacity to adapt to changing environments. AD commits to donating 50% of its annual profit towards the continued success of NAN’s work. One unique example of AD’s achievements through NAN is the Burmese Learning Center, which provides education for 80 Burmese migrant children living in the Kuraburi district of Phang Nga Province and helps facilitate their integration into secondary Burmese and Thai school systems. The North Andaman Region of Southern Thailand is home to a large population of Burmese migrant workers, whose children often lack access to education. AD organizes volunteer placements to send interested guests who volunteer at the center for at least two weeks, to teach English and to help the teachers with methods of teaching a foreign language. In addition to contributing to the school financially via NAN, AD has raised funds from its guests and supporters around the world to cover teacher’s salaries and transportation for all students, and coordinated with community service project groups to renovate and upgrade facilities at the center.

At a glance... • Whilst originally set up as a relief project, through tourism activities, the business has been self-sustaining for the last 10 years • AD commits to sending a staff member to at least one village community-based tourism meeting per month in order to maintain close ties with villages • Through NAN, AD has supported more than 150 Moken children from Koh Surin by offering scholarships to attend high school or middle school • Their CBT program generates approximately 35% of additional income for host families, compared to a standard representative local income

For more information andamandiscoveries.com

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Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia Borneo Eco Tours specialises in nature based tours, and comprises of the tour operator itself, as well as Sukau Rainforest Lodge accommodation, and includes non-profit activities through the organisation BEST (Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies) Society. Sukau Rainforest Lodge was built in 1995 on the banks of the mighty Kinabatangan River. It was the first lodge in the area of its kind, designed on ecotourism principles to work in harmony with the abundance of wildlife prevalent in the flood plain. The land was purchased from a local ‘orang sungai’ (people of the river) community member, who was originally criticized for selling his land for a lodge. Today, he is a respected member of the community for his vision of how the land could be transformed to support local livelihoods. Aside from supporting local employment, as 85% of the lodge’s team comes from the immediate area, Sukau Rainforest Lodge supports a local economy through the purchase of locally produced food such as fish, prawns, vegetables, as well as maintenance opportunities like repairing the jetty and sundeck.

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The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, the area in which Sukau Rainforest Lodge sits, is known to have among the highest concentration of wildlife in Borneo. Guests can connect and experience rich biodiversity through early dawn and late afternoon river cruises, and expect to witness Proboscis monkeys and other wildlife, congregated on treetops of riverbanks. All guides are well trained to curate interactions with wildlife in a way that minimises any disturbance, enhanced by the use of boats equipped with electric motors to reduce noise and air pollution. Today, the Lodge is a global leader in responsible wildlife tourism, and as well as being awarded by Wild Asia, received prestigious recognition by National Geographic as a Unique Lodge of the World. The Lodge pioneered elephant passes, a design feature along the boardwalk to allow Borneo Pygmy Elephants to migrate through the property. In a bid to not compete with the local community’s water supply, the Lodge is 100% self-reliant on water, harvesting rainwater supply and processing it for guest use. The property was completely self-reliant for energy from 1995 and was not connected to the grid until 2008, but due to the high cost of solar technology and maintenance, they now also use government electrical supply for 12 hours daily.

BEST Society supports rural communities in Sabah to establish and improve their own social ventures, improving their quality of life through business. Originally, the NGO provided charitable services, such as installing water tanks to villages with no access to clean water, medical and dental camps, introducing organic farming projects in rural areas, and tree planting. The team behind BEST began to realize that sustainable development in communities could never be achieved through typical charity, and they saw huge potential in shifting their focus to social entrepreneurship. Today, the NGO now focuses entirely on capacity building in social entrepreneurship, and is increasing access to markets for home-based artisans. Through Borneo Eco Tours, visitors can explore the Kudat area, a scenic coastal region rich in small cottage industries they can visit and support. Borneo Eco Tours has supported these small businesses; after more than two decades of successful business, they share their expertise and access to useful contacts with other budding entrepreneurs. They have been training local community members in tourism and supporting them to establish their own social enterprise. Some examples include increasing access to markets for artisans, such as beaded


jewellery makers, weavers, coconut oil and honey producers, and sending 50 farmers on an organic farming training course, and technical support to accommodation proprietors. These small ventures benefit firstly through support to grow their small ventures, and then receive business through visitors travelling with Borneo Eco Tours. Before long other tour operators see value in their unique services and support them too, making their cottage industry self-sufficient beyond just Borneo Eco Tours support. The team is also behind pioneering developments to further authentic connections to people and place, with new experiences recently developed at quieter locations on the Mount Kinabulu trail and a farm tourism stay in the heart of the countryside. They are very committed to sourcing staff locally, and pride themselves that 100% local of their team is made up of local people, including management level. Furthermore, staff have access to great benefits such as a higher than national minimum wage, medical benefits, recreation activities, allowances for overtime, and special skills training.

At a glance... • More than USD $130,000 has been channeled from Borneo Eco Tours operations to its sister NGO BEST for community and environmental projects in the local area. This is collected at a per guest rate from every visitor on their tours or staying at Sukau Rainforest Lodge • Committed to investing in a local workforce, payroll per staff has increased by 240% over a 15-year period • BEST activities have impacted more than 6,300 persons directly • To enhance the natural environment in threatened landscapes, they have replanted more than 5,000 trees • Over the years, the tour company has won more than 40 local and international awards

For more information borneoecotours.com sukau.com bestsociety.org rt.wildasia.org


CBT Vietnam, Vietnam Sapa, in the North Western area of Vietnam, is a popular tourist destination. Visitors travel to this beautiful corner of the country to enjoy mountain hikes, cooler temperatures, and meeting the variety of indigenous hilltribe communities. Tourism has grown rapidly and unfortunately many cultural interactions with hilltribes have been developed in a way that doesn’t necessarily put the community needs at the forefront, and direct benefits to local people are sometimes weak. In Sapa town itself, remote community members attempt to sell their traditional handicrafts to tourists, but often the market is flooded and visitors are unlikely to engage. Capliano University and Hanoi Open University wanted to bring more benefits to local people, particularly women. By working closely with community members, tourism is being designed with the community needs at the heart. Through a variety of trainings and on-going support, women are empowered to own their own tourism businesses and be in charge of development in their own community. Tourism is being developed with a focus on providing authentic experiences, such as homestays and the establishment of ‘new’ trekking routes popular with locals only.

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The project began with workshops to teach basic tourism skills and expanded these to entrepreneurship and planning. Approximately 200 workshops have been conducted involving over 400 participants. With the support of project partners, the community improved sanitation, built a temporary market, established walking circuits and homestays, and created business plan. To ensure the success of the new experiences available, they engaged local government and tourism stakeholders. To build lasting business relationships, several fam trips took place, and community members visited Hanoi to talk business – many of whom had never left their village before. As well as being a transformative experience for the women from the villages, the meetings led to enhanced understanding of product development, partnership agreements, fair and equitable pricing, preservation of culture, and village improvement strategies. Dedicated to using tourism as a means to protect vulnerable ethnic communities, CBT Vietnam developed sustainable tourism training initiatives in the rural villages of Tavan, Taphin, which have become completely self-sufficient, and Lao Chai. The training modules include providing general tourism knowledge to the


community, community tourism planning for local authorities and community stakeholders, entrepreneurship for youth and women, business development, and environmental stewardship. During their training local participants were given opportunities to experience tourism from a different perspective by travelling to Hanoi and becoming consumers of tourism services themselves. They met with tour operators, hotels and restaurants, and utilized visitor information services. The experience allowed the participants to learn about what makes a positive tourism experience so they can improve the services they offer visitors to their community. Many of the trainings have been conducted by volunteers, both foreign and local alike. Around 60 students from Canada, and 40 from Vietnam, contributed to the training opportunities made available over the years. Whilst this has been necessary in may ways, and time was taken to both build capacity in the villages and generate trust, the project understands that success lies in eventually becoming redundant to the communities. To ensure the sustainability of the tourism offerings, the project works to reduce dependency on training and build capacity from within so that economic and social conditions will improve over the long term from the energies, knowledge and resources of the communities alone. Taphin has become self-sufficient, and the project is proud that their dream has been actualized through the success of this particular village.

Around 90% of the beneficiaries of the project’s training programs have been women. Nearly all of the women that have been involved in the training did not finish elementary school. In fact, the majority of the women we have worked with did not know how to speak Vietnamese when the project started, and could communicate only in their mother tongue and local dialect. Through the process of this project, women have learned how to speak English and Vietnamese The latter of particular importance as all business and economic activities are conducted in Vietnamese and enables them to advance their business significantly. As a result, by building business partnerships with ethnically Vietnamese, racial stereotypes of ethnic minorities have lessened. A local youth leader crowd funded USD $12,500 to create a market that will serve as a centre of commerce and a space for community gathering and social engagement. The entrepreneurial lady behind the project also won herself a scholarship to attend further education at Capilano University. As part of the communications strategy of this initiative, a suite of beautiful videos have been produced. Many of these have won a host of international and independent film awards, increasing exposure of the small-scale tourism ventures in Sapa significantly.

At a glance... • Approximately 450 people, including ethnic minorities, have been involved in the training • Over 30 tour operators have been actively engaged with the communities. • An estimated 40 authentic cultural homestays have been set up in 3 villages: Tavan, Taphin and Lao Chai. • Over 60 tour guides from the Sapa Region have been trained • Income/revenue generated by some individuals in the village has increased from USD $500 per year to USD $2,400 per year • Approximate 40 students and faculty from Hanoi Open University have volunteered for the project, including 7 students that have gone on to attain Master’s degrees

For more information cbtvietnam.com rt.wildasia.org


ChildSafe Movement, Cambodia The ChildSafe Movement is delivered by Friends International, and is helping to protect vulnerable children in tourism destinations across Cambodia and other parts of South East Asia. Travellers can sometimes unknowingly put children at risk of exploitation, and the ChildSafe 7 Tips for Travellers helps tourists make the right choices whilst visiting overseas destinations to advocate child safety. Beyond that, ChildSafe is also working behind the scenes to get children off the streets, through vocational training, supporting their parents through employment, and generating employment through social ventures, as well as a whole host of social services too. Cambodia has recently been under the spotlight, with people all over the world discussing the negative impacts of volunteer travel in children care centres and schools. This conversation has been steered by ChildSafe’s campaigns to educate travellers around the world to make better and more responsible choices. ChildSafe encourages visitors to think twice about volunteering an orphanage, communicating that many institutions can be harmful for children. They advise “Working with children in institutions such as orphanages is a job for local experts, not for travellers who are just passing through. rt.wildasia.org

Children deserve more than good intentions: they deserve experienced and skilled caretakers and teachers who know the local culture and language”.

shop and a hairdressers. Nearly a thousand young people have been trained through these businesses.

Visitors can enjoy a collection of Tree Alliance restaurants that operate on a social business model. These restaurants promote local cuisine and provides employment for trainees in hospitality. Students and teachers of the restaurant serve you, with on-the-job training a daily reality including in the kitchen. Restaurants are usually equipped with an attached Friends ’n’ Stuff shop, selling a variety of beautiful gifts made through their home-based production program. These goods are produced by parents of marginalized youth, providing a steady income to families who need it most.

For several years, the organization has been providing tourism businesses such as hotels and tour operators with child protection training. The aim of the training is to inform locals about how to identify a child at risk or spot exploitation, and empower them to take action and how to do that. Namely, they promote their 24 hour hotline service that community members can report incidents or suspicion, and a team of local social works will respond straight away. By creating a network of ambassadors for their cause, tourism workers in turn educate their own communities and visitors alike. Recently, to enhance their engagement with the tourism sector, and to strengthen policies of businesses, they have introduced a certification scheme. Training is more in depth, followed by a test, and support is given to implement robust child protection policies and procedures. There are now more than 8,000 trained individuals, who can act as ChildSafe agents.

In addition to vocational training for the hospitality sector, they also have several other training businesses. This includes a motorbike repair

Their campaigns also educate donors, and especially addresses orphanages. Their global advocacy walks donors through the realities

Other messages for guests include avoiding scams and discouraging buying from or giving to a begging child. Posters, videos, leaflets and articles are penetrating the tourism market and can be found in airports, planes, back of toilet doors in tourist bars, and at regular exhibitions.


of supporting institutions, and says “your orphanage donation isn’t helping an orphan, it’s hurting a child”. It has been reported that 80% (UNICEF) of children living in orphanages are not orphans, and flowing donations keep institutions open and create more centres too. Friends International’s focus is on family-based care, and they encourage donors to support this approach instead. In collaboration with the Cambodian government, they are making great progress on closing poorly run or corrupt orphanages, improving legislation on centres, and reintegrating children into loving homes and society. Almost 9,000 children have benefited from direct emergency life-saving interventions, highlighting the importance of the communication of the ChildSafe hotlines. Their social workers support young people with dependency and addiction, and in very vulnerable situations. The hotlines are now available in 11 Asian countries, and operate 24/7.

At a glance... • 11 ChildSafe Movement 24/7 Hotlines across Asia • 100,000 children benefitted from actions through programs’ activities • 7,338 ChildSafe Agents are aware of the child protection issues, how to identify abuse, and how to respond • 9 million people were exposed to ChildSafe messages and ChildSafe Traveler 7 Tips (in 15 languages) • Social enterprises generating USD $3.3 million in product sales and services across 3 countries • Profits of USD $260,000 reinvested into local social programs and global support structure • Almost 10,000 students trained in vocational training businesses • More than 300 caretakers involved in skill-building home-based production, micro entrepreneurship and employment projects

For more information thinkchildsafe.org rt.wildasia.org


El Nido Resorts, Philippines El Nido Resorts is a group of (currently four) sustainable island resorts in the El Nido and Taytay municipalities in Palawan, Philippines. The area has been sited as the ‘last ecological frontier of the environment’ and regarded by many travel lists as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Creating a harmony between tourism and the natural surroundings is at the heart of everything El Nido Resorts does. As a guest, this is introduced to you on arrival through an informal environmental orientation. If you look deeper, you’ll see its success is in the shared values and understanding of all staff around you. Every team member receives regular Be G.R.E.E.N. (Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido) training, and actions are delivered through each department with care. Guests are engaged and reminded of sustainability in a subtle yet powerful way. On arrival, they are greeted warmly with a local traditional song, creating a sense of place. During turn down service, housekeeping leave a bedtime story in guest rooms based on ancient wisdom and tales of the rich local biodiversity, connecting you to both culture and nature. Signs in rooms invite guests to be part of their rt.wildasia.org

linen policy, and educate you about their onsite sewage system. Acknowledging the challenges of island resorts ability to engage guests with local community members, the resorts have introduced a fishing activity. This enables visitors to spend time with local fishermen, learning about their culture, and participating in low impact fishing. Moreover, these tours educate fishermen about the negative impacts of unsustainable fishing, such as cyanide fishing or over-fishing, evokes a sense of pride in their local environment, and pay a rate that is the same to hard day fishing in just 3 hours of facilitating a tour. This unqiue interaction adds value to the guest experience, and facilitates community engagement often missing from luxurious or remote properties. Each resort has its own resident environmental officer, responsible for monitoring sustainability activities and managing initiatives such as daily nature tours for guests. Residents can explore their surroundings with an expert guide, and learn about the vast variety of biodiversity on their doorstep. Resources are available to connect guests to wildlife they may encounter during their stay, engaging them beyond the luxurious experience the hotels provide.


Their locations are on islands where fresh water is often a challenge, or in fact unavailable at the destination. El Nido Resorts operates a desalination plant to convert salt water into fresh water suitable for human consumption. This means that water doesn’t have to be delivered from local communities, and prevents competing for local water supply, making them completely self-sufficient. They also operate a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant, which ensures that no raw sewage or grey water is discharged into sea, which can be harmful for corals. Treated water is recycled for flushing toilets, a cost effective use of reducing water consumption as it is around a fifth of the cost of the desalinated water. The resorts have implemented a holistic waste management system, encompassing a range of departments, supporting a full cycle of materials recovery. The resorts’ kitchen staff have all been trained how to effectively segregate waste. All food waste is processed into natural compost by mixing it with carbonized rice husk, delivered to their private garden, and used to fertilize the growth of vegetables for the resorts’ use. Fresh and homegrown produce features heavily in the considerately designed sustainable menu; their own vegetables comprise 60% of total kitchen purchases, while locally reared livestock comprise 90% of total kitchen purchases. The resorts have its own waste management plant, further recycling and processing nonbiodegradable waste. In an effort to reduce guest waste, each guest is provided with a refillable bottle, which can be topped up at

complementary drinking water stations. Every year, staff participate in an activity to design innovative solutions to sustainability practices. One lady responsible for the maintenance of sea kayaks began stuffing them with empty water bottles to enhance buoyancy. The resorts’ philosophy of innovative sustainability includes simple and carefully considered factors like boat maintenance. El Nido Resorts produces its own fiberglass kayaks which are not only cheaper than buying imported plastic kayaks, but are easier to repair and can have a lifecycle of around 8 years, where plastic might last around 2 years with frequent use. The hotel staff radiate famous Filipino hospitality, and it is clear that thanks to robust ethical human resource management, that the team are happy calling this place work. They are now encountering second-generation staff, and children of long-serving team members are joining the work force. Many staff have been working with the resorts for over twenty years, comfortable in their positive work environment and supported through career progression programs and training opportunities. For several years, El Nido Resorts has ran annual camps for local children to spend time learning about the marine environments at the resorts. Through the leadership of an environment officer, children also learn about business approaches to supporting biodiversity. They recently expanding this offering as a pilot to overseas students, educating responsible travellers of the future.

At a glance... • By using their own desalination plant, the resorts save more than USD $160,000 every year. This pays back the initial set up cost of the plant in just one year • By processing their own food waste, the resorts are generating almost 10 tons of natural compost, which nourishes their own vegetable gardens, producing organic produce for the resorts • 92% of their 500 person strong team comes from the local community, supporting localized employment opportunities • Through engaging community members, staff, and guests in voluntary beach clean ups, more than 3,000 people collected almost 5,000kgs of non-biodegradable waste in 2015 For more information elnidoresorts.com facebook.com/ ElNidoResortsEnvironmentDepartment rt.wildasia.org


LooLa Adventure Resort, Indonesia Loola Adventure Resort caters to families and school groups who seek adventure, cultural and educational immersions. Founded in 2000, the eco resort was built using local materials and builders, and it distinguishes itself with its commitment to empower local staff members and communities.

conservation efforts, as the resort focuses first and foremost on limiting the use of water and electricity, including appealing to the guests to enjoy the rustic natural feel of the local scene with basic comforts such as sea breeze instead of air conditioner, and sun-warmed water for their showers.

Demonstrating that locals can run a viable, world-class tourism business, 100% of Loola’s staff members are Indonesians, with more than half coming from the nearby village of Galang Batang. But the resort’s commitment does not stop at employing local staff, but extends to supporting them to become entrepreneurs in their own right. Staff-owned enterprises like a snack shop, a coffee bar and massage service help instill the entrepreneurship amongst the staff.

Most of the Loola staff members speak English, hold First Aid- and outdoor instructor certificates, and can operate several computer programs. Employees are eligible for subsidised laptops and smartphones and have comprehensive insurance coverage. Loola owners, Marc van Loo and Isabelle Lacoste, hope to eventually create a collaborative ownership with the staff. Currently, the kitchen, project and household departments are already managing their own budgets. “In one year from now,” said Dr. van Loo, “I want to be able to pay them just a package and they pay their own salaries and manage the resort, whilst I do the sales in Singapore.”

In addition to enjoying adventure and communitybased activities, Loola guests engage with local communities by taking part in Loola’s community development projects, ranging from constructing wastewater gardens to planting trees and paving school compounds. They also have the option to join a free sustainability tour to learn about the resort’s sustainable practices. At Loola, the guests are a key part of resource rt.wildasia.org

Under Loola’s Community Involvement Project (CIP) initiatives, the resort encourages guests to spend about SGD30 to SGD40 per person to engage in meaningful projects that benefit the villagers. Loola has a team of CIP coordinators to liaise with the villagers, conduct door-to-door

surveys, keep track of projects, and ensure the projects meet their objectives. Loola has embraced and tested various environmental initiatives such as green air conditioning and biological wastewater recycling systems, and seeks to act as a test-bed for innovative open source eco-solutions. • Energy: Loola has installed 70 solar panels, covering 60% of the resort’s current energy usage. Loola works with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) as a research partner to help correctly configure the solar power system, and believes that the solar energy production can cover up to 90% of its electricity needs. Since 2015, Loola has also implemented a chemicalfree, solar-power driven air conditioners in its luxury eco villas. This green aircon system, a world-first, uses solar energy to power the cooling compressors that freeze a block of ice during the day, and this block of ice is then used to cool the villas at night. Loola is collaborating with SERIS to further develop the system in an opensource format, and to encourage widespread adoption of the system across the region.


• Water: Loola uses a rainwater harvesting system that supplies about 40% of the resort’s water. With water meters installed across the resort, Loola monitors its water consumption, aiming to reduce water usage and to improve the rainwater collection capacity to cover 80% of the resort’s water consumption. Loola has also adopted a biological wastewater processing system, following a UNESCO-approved model, to recycle water through wastewater gardens. With the help of Loola guests, this system has been brought to 60 local households. Each wastewater garden unit costs about SGD500, and saves SGD300 per year (about 15% of household income). Loola seeks to develop better and cheaper solutions to enable more villages to adopt the system. • Natural mosquito control: In the past 10 years, Loola has experimented with chemical-free anti-insect systems, developing open-source systems that are user friendly, robust and cost-effective in order to enable locals to adopt similar systems. Currently, the resort has 85 units of “Ovitrap” - simple, black containers with isolated wire mesh that monitor, control and detect mosquito population. When water is added into an Ovitrap container, it will attract female mosquitos to lay eggs, which will hatch inside but eventually die as they can’t fly out the trap.

At a glance... • Loola resort’s 50-plus employees are all locals living on Bintan Island, with more than half the staff coming from nearby Galang Batang village • All of the profits generated through Loola’s staff-owned enterprises are shared among the staff, topping up their wages by an additional 20% to 50% • Guests contribute over USD $36,000 to Loola’s Community Involvement Projects (CIP) annually, enabling initiatives such as distributing mosquito nets and re-establishing local wells for drinking resources. • Loola’s CIP initiatives have resulted in about 10 hectares of trees (mangrove and lowland trees) planted on the island • Loola has installed 70 solar panels, covering 60% of the resort’s current energy usage

For more information loola.net rt.wildasia.org


Ock Pop Tok, Lao PDR Ock Pop Tok was founded in 2000 by a British woman and a Laotian lady, who shared a love of Laotian traditional textiles. Both women shared a love for the traditional hand loomed textiles and were committed to preserving and promoting these textiles to the rest of the world. They have grown their business from a shop selling a handful of simple designs, to become of the most important artist instructions in the South East Asia region. The name means ‘East meets West’, celebrating the collaboration of its founders, as well as their mission to bridge eastern handicrafts with western markets. The business was founded on principles of fair trade and sustainable business practices. Today, Ock Pop Tok consists of several shops, workshop space, a café and a collection of visitor accommodation options along the mighty Mekong. The business was founded to preserve hand loomed textiles, with a realization that if the craft was to thrive, they had to create economic value for the textiles. And so the business was founded on fair trade principles, giving women the opportunity to earn a sustainable livelihood for their families and communities. At the same time, by creating a venue to connect visitors with the craft, and the opportunity to both learn rt.wildasia.org

and participate, the business educates visitors about the cultural and the artistic value of the textiles. Around 50% of revenue goes back to support villages through purchases or training opportunities. In 2006, the Village Weavers Project was established to provide design and marketing assistance in over eleven different provinces across Laos. This project creates a varied product line representative of Laos’ diverse ethnic groups, and generates income opportunities for rural communities. Most artisans are women and textile production is part of daily life for many. Villages engaged in this project are in remote rural communities, where income generation opportunities are often very limited. By purchasing from these women regularly, Ock Pop Tok has observed significant benefits to participating families and seen signs of poverty reduction. It is also providing opportunities to allow artisans to stay in their home village, rather than being forced to leave to seek opportunities outside, and keeps money in that village. Visitors can explore their Living Crafts Centre, set on the banks of the Mekong River. There is a series of workshops and classroom space, where guests can learn about Lao textiles and


handicrafts, whilst soaking up views. Freeguided tours introduce visitors to the world of silk weaving and the opportunity to meet artisans. Workshops are available to try traditional natural dying, whilst enjoying weaving demonstrations. Around 1,000 visitors participate in this on a monthly basis. Natural dyes would have originally been the only way traditional textiles were produced, but inorganic dyes are now popular. Ock Pop Tok are preserving the original way of dying, and continue to explore ways to increase their use. To educate about the benefits of natural dyes, they have recently help rural trainings to teach village weavers the skills and values of the techniques. This includes fermented indigo leaves, Sappan wood, resins, vines, Teak leaves, and Indian trumpet bark. Committed to facilitating cultural exchange through partnerships with likeminded organizations, they participate in overseas art markets, and host foreign textile researchers to learn from their work. Senior Lao staff have access to capacity building opportunities, by being sent abroad to attend and learn from other similar businesses, in the field of both weaving and tourism. One of the main motivations for the business is to provide fair employment. As a result, one of their biggest costs is on staff – around 65%, which is higher than most businesses. In fact, when you buy their products, they guarantee the artisan is paid three times the minimum

wage. The costs are higher to budget for regular training and attractive benefit packages. This is paying off, and they continue to see an increase of revenue, proving it pays to invest in your team. Their East Meets West fund contributes to further education opportunities for Luang Prabang based men and women. They partner with selected schools and colleges to jointly choose appropriate classes for the selected individual to attend. Ock Pop Tok invite visitors to contribute to this education fund, and donors can track progress of sponsored students through attendance reports. Ock Pop Tok’s sister NGO Fibre2Fabric collects, preserves, and documents heritage textiles in Laos. It runs regular and permanent exhibitions, which demonstrates the production and cultural significance of textiles from various regions and ethnicities.

At a glance... • In the 16 years in operation, they have grown from employing 5 weavers, to 66 today at the Living Crafts Centre. • For products produced at the Living Crafts Centre, they have increased natural dye use from 5% to approximately 50%. (The other 50% is E.U. approved dyes from Europe as per their ethical policy) • In addition to their team of weavers, they employ more than 70 people and have an all-female management team. • Up to 1000 products are purchased each month through the Village Weaver Project, creating a reliable ordering stream for women who would find this very challenging if selling themselves • About 50% of revenue goes back to support villages through purchases and training

For more information ockpoptok.com rt.wildasia.org


PEPY Tours, Cambodia PEPY Tours is an educational travel provider, specializing in school and study tours for academic institutions all over the world. They provide curriculum based trips in Cambodia, and recently expanded this offering to Nepal. Young travellers explore their destination, guided by local facilitators, through the lens of development studies. When PEPY Tours was first founded, the business saw the huge potential of generating much-needed fundraising for development projects in Cambodia through volunteer travel. Hundreds of travellers visited Cambodia with PEPY Tours, learning about challenges facing the country, and participating directly in activities such as teaching at rural schools. Daniela Papi, the founder, quickly began to observe the burgeoning voluntourism industry in Cambodia and other parts of the developing world, and began to reconsider the most responsible way to engage potential donors with projects. PEPY Tours soon evolved into an educational tour operator, and moved away from the ‘service learning’ field. They admit that sending visitors to cultures different from their own and contributing to a model where tourists can fly in and help, was not the message they wanted to be sending rt.wildasia.org

to the communities they aimed to serve. In fact, PEPY Tours is now regarded as somewhat of a pioneer in the responsible volunteering debate, initiating global discussions about possible negative impacts short-term unskilled volunteer travel can have. They call this the ‘learning service’ movement, encouraging travellers to learn before they serve, and delivering this through engaging learning journeys.

countryside. Over time, they have run initiatives to improve the quality of education for all ages, and are currently focusing on high school and university age students. They’re providing ‘dream classes’ to help young people work towards goals, scholarships for further education to those who couldn’t finance it otherwise, and a suite of soft skill training to enable students to access skilled jobs.

PEPY Tours has a unique payment structure for guests, which includes a separate and compulsory fundraising component, which is donated directly to their sister NGO PEPY Empowering Youth. In addition to this separate donation to PEPY, the tour cost also has other numerous contributions to social causes too. These are distributed to organizations tours connect with, such as meetings or workshops with projects as the group travels. It is this financial model that was the motivation for establishing PEPY Tours as a social enterprise, generating regular funding for grass-root projects that share a vision for building a brighter future for young Cambodians.

For visiting students on one of their tours, they’ll be connected a range of inspirational development leaders in the field. Students can learn about Cambodia’s dark history and the impact it has on the country today, and the wide variety of development projects in existence, from the environment, human rights, and education. As part of the immersive cultural experience, guests might stay in a homestay, supporting community based tourism projects providing alternative livelihoods to rural communities. They dine in social business restaurants, participate in eye-opening workshops led by charitable groups, and spend time discussing development topics. A PEPY Tours experience is often transformative for its participants, building leadership and critical thinking skills, whilst challenging them to consider their role as global citizens.

Their official sister NGO, PEPY Empowering Youth, provides youth leadership training and educational programs to young Khmers from the


For a decade, PEPY Tours ran an annual fundraising bike ride called the PEPY Ride. The PEPY family was born our of an initial fundraising cycle challenge across, and that is how its founder ended up settling in Cambodia. As an important part of the PEPY story, the bike ride was a key feature in the calendar, and generated thousands of dollars for education programs in under-served communities. The first PEPY Ride generated USD $100,000, and those who participated stayed connected to the organization for many years. As passionate educators, PEPY Tours educational qualities don’t end with their tours and initiatives they support, but through advocacy too. Their ‘learn first’ approach has manifested into an online campaign called the Learning Service. This platform shares informative videos to (potential) volunteers about sourcing ethical placements, and how to make a lasting positive impact. Daniela Papi presented this philosophy on a TEDx Talk in 2012, has written about it for the BBC, and continues to be a leading public speaker on this topic of her passion. In 2015, PEPY Tours restructure to enhance local ownership, and currently operates its tours in Cambodia and Nepal through like-minded destination-based tour partners. This mirrors the localization process of the NGO too, which also at that time shifted from being an international NGO to a Cambodian registered and run charity.

At a glance... • Tours have directly contributed around USD $400,000 to their sister NGO. Often guests become longterm donors, and have contributed hundreds of thousands of additional funding over the years • Media reach on educating travellers on voluntourism has exceeded 2 million people worldwide • PEPY is currently funding 50 students to attend university and vocational training • Around 3,500 Cambodian students have benefitted from PEPY’s Learning Center which provides soft skill training and career development • PEPY Tours trips generate around 20% of PEPY’s annual budget requirements, and is a source of reliable unrestricted funding which is often challenging to secure

For more information pepytours.com learningservice.info rt.wildasia.org


Soneva Resorts, Maldives Soneva Resorts coined the term ‘intelligent luxury’ to describe their approach to providing high quality experiences, whilst balancing their impacts on the natural environment and neighbouring communities. Currently, their resort portfolio consists of three properties in total – two in the Maldives and one in Thailand. This case study puts the spotlight on one of their Maldives’ island resorts.

manages the resorts’ waste, processing organic matter to compost for their own vegetable gardens. With the help of consultants, Soneva Fushi has recently halved their food waste, and now processes 500kg of it daily, turning as much as possible into compost. They also process waste wood to generate copious amounts of charcoal for in-house barbeques, and are now self-sustaining to meet their own needs.

Upon arrival guests are invited to handover their shoes and embrace barefoot living for the duration of their stay - a simple measure to encourage guests to ‘kick back’ and connect with the earth or sand beneath their feet. Bicycles are provided for every room, allowing guests to explore the tropical interiors of the island. Unlike many Maldivian luxurious resorts, Soneva Fushi’s design focuses on discreetly positioning rooms, hidden amongst tropical vegetation. This thoughtful design approach not only provides guests with privacy, it also respectfully situates the properties into nature, making many parts of the resort barely visible from sea.

For waste that is often challenging to recycle, Soneva have introduced groundbreaking initiatives such as processing polystyrene to become beanbags around the resort, or lightweight bricks. Another example is their pioneering glass project; an impressive centre that reworks crushed glass bottles into new works of art and glassware for daily use in the hotel. This project is like no other, and highlights Soneva’s unique positioning to be ahead of the game and revolutionize sustainability initiatives. Processing their own waste in entirety is hugely important in an environment like the Maldives, where very few responsible alternatives are available, and most of the tourism industry’s waste is burned.

Soneva proudly promotes a philosophy of ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ with a mission to prove that environmental best practice makes good business sense. Their on-site Eco Centro hub rt.wildasia.org

Being located on a remote island, many local resorts are burdened with the huge volumes of

&

Thailand

plastics that are delivered to cater for guests’ needs. This is especially true when tackling drinking water needs to customers. Soneva has implemented a cutting-edge facility to produce their own drinking water. The production has not only eliminated plastic bottles entirely, but through the sales has generated significant profit margins and return on investment. Through the success of this initiative, the resort is now supporting the implementation of a similar project on a neighbouring island, to allow local communities to benefit in the same way. Resident Marine Biologists can accompany guests participating in water-based activities, providing an enriching educational experience to visitors. The role of the Marine Biologists is to monitor the local environment, and collaborate with neighbouring islands to safeguard the atoll. As the oldest island in the area, Soneva Fushi is well positioned to observe changes in the enviromnet over time. Acknowledging the power of multi-stakeholder engagement, the helped form a community movement called Baaru (which means strength in the local language) to influence others to support environmental best practice, and was part of the creation of the local biosphere reserve.


Despite the Maldives being an island nation, many residents never learn to swim, and this can distance people from understanding what lies beneath the water and its fragility. Soneva Fushi formed a Learn to Swim programme to equip local communities with the skills and knowledge to connect with their natural environment safely, and to foster a respect for it. By training new community swimming instructors, the project has empowered many young people, particularly girls, to swim. Soneva measures its operational performance through its own Soneva Carbon Calculator. It does not simply measure carbon footprint from energy consumption but also measures air travel, freight, ground travel, food, waste, paper and water consumption. Almost 70% of the emissions comes from guests air travel, and to mitigate that an environmental levy of 2% of room revenue is added to each guest’s stay, which has raised USD $6.2 million to date. This funding has contributed to range of sustainability projects worldwide, including energy efficient cooking stones in Myanmar and Sudan, and a reforestation initiative in Thailand. Soneva Resorts hosts a biennial ‘Slow Life Symposium’ to bring together global leaders in sustainability, share ideas, and promote a culture of collaboration and education.

At a glance... • After initial investment of USD $30,000 to set up a drinking water plant, return on investment was less than a year. • They have experienced a 700% profit increase by bottling their own water, though which profits have given 750,000 people access to safe water through the WHOLE WORLD Water projects. • Waste-to-Wealth initiatives such as the vegetable garden and pioneering glass studio generated in excess of $260,000 in 2015. • Across the resorts group, properties proudly recycle 80% of waste, and at times this is in excess of 90%. • By producing their own charcoal on site, the resort is self-sufficient and meets their own demands, whilst saving the resort around USD $3,000 per month.

For more information soneva.com rt.wildasia.org


Awardees to date Over the last decade, we have proudly given recognition to the following businesses through Finalist and Winner statuses... Agri Tourism, India (2012) Alila Manggis, Indonesia (2006, 2008) Alila Ubud, Indonesia (2006, 2008) Andaman Discoveries, Thailand (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) Apani Dhani, India (2013) Bali CoBTA, Indonesia (2013) Banjaar Tola, India (2012) BEST Initiative, Malaysia (2014) Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia (2014) CBT Vietnam, Vietnam (2015) ChildSafe Movement, Cambodia (2014) Clubmed Cherating, Malaysia (2015) CRDTours, Cambodia (2015) Ecosphere Spiti, India (2008) El Nido Resorts, Philippines (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015) Evason Phuket, Thailand (2006, 2007) EXO Foundation, Cambodia (2015) Faasai Resort & Spa, Thailand (2008) Frangipani Langkawi, Malaysia (2010, 2013) Gaya Island, Malaysia (2015) Heritance Kandalama, Sri Lanka (2010, 2012, 2013) Heritance Tea Factory, Sri Lanka (2012) ITC Mughal, India (2009) ITC Sonar, India (2012) Jetwing Yala, Sri Lanka (2015) Khiri Travel, Thailand (2015) Kinyei, Cambodia (2015) Lamai Homestay, Thailand (2009) Lanjia Lodge, Thailand (2015) rt.wildasia.org

Lisu Lodge, Thailand (2013) LooLa Adventure, Indonesia (2012) Nanga Sumpa Lodge, Malaysia (2006) Nikoi Island, Indonesia (2009, 2012, 2015) Ock Pop Tok, Laos (2014) Our Native Village, India (2012) Papua Expeditions, Indonesia (2013) PEPY Tours, Cambodia (2010) Ranwelli Holiday Village, Sri Lanka (2013) Reality Tours & Travel, India (2014) Sampran Riverside, Thailand (2013) Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, Indonesia (2007, 2010) Scuba Junkie, Malaysia (2012, 2013) Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Malaysia (2009) Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi, Thailand (2008) Soneva Fushi, Maldives (2009) Soneva Gili, Maldives (2010) Soneva Resorts (group), Maldives & Thailand (2013) Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Cambodia (2012) Spice Village, India (2007) Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia (2013) Sunderbans Jungle Camp, India (2009) Tanjung Rhu Resort, Malaysia (2006) Tmat Boey Village, Cambodia (2007) Tree Tops Jungle Lodge, Sri Lanka (2008) Udayana Eco Lodge, Indonesia (2007) Via Via Jodja, Indonesia (2013) Village Ways, India (2014) Xintuo Ecotourism, China (2015)


Summary of best practices 1. Team engagement & training

2. Waste-to-wealth

3. Invest for the future

A business’s vision often starts with its founder or management team, but it is the staff on all levels and departments who can often make this dream a reality. Staff training and engagement is vital to make responsible tourism happen. We believe this isn’t a one off event, but part of a continuous effort to create a united company culture and to stay on top of ever-changing solutions to sustainability challenges.

Managing waste materials for many businesses is a costly and challenging burden. Pioneering tourism businesses are implementing management solutions to turn waste into profitable products, and demonstrating that longterm investment to manage waste effectively really does pay off.

Whilst many responsible tourism actions can be implemented for little or even no charge, fostering a long-term vision and considering investing for the long run provides big positive change. We’ve seen businesses carefully consider technologies that will over time save money, provide a return on investment, and result in great things for the environment.

The most impressive cases committed to capacity building are dedicated to ingraining these values with everyone on their team. Like everything in life, environmental and social issues might not be on the top of everyone’s agenda, but leaders in the field are making it appropriate and relevant for all audiences. Businesses can integrate sustainability discussions into daily meetings, initiate quizzes or regular competitions around the topics, and even offer financial incentives for creating cost saving measures.

rt.wildasia.org

Whilst not every business has the budget to introduce state of the art machinery to process inorganic materials, setting up a composting facility is inexpensive. Generating your own compost can encourage businesses to realize the volume of their own food; often one of the biggest sources of waste and easily reduced. The end product helps nourish organic fresh vegetables, which is increasingly popular with all global consumers. For waste that can take up lots of space, like old furniture and construction materials, these can often be up-cycled for back-of-house purposes with a little creativity and thought.

This is particularly true for water, a precious for everyone, but particularly true for island properties where supply can often be limited. Desalination plants and appropriate wastewater and sewage treatment systems create long lasting benefits – doesn’t limit availability of resources to local communities, ensures outputs will not damage ecosystems, and manages the needs of your business effectively. 4. The power of storytelling Wild Asia has seen so many really inspiring businesses over the years getting their messages to their guests not quite right. Many businesses misunderstand how to market sustainability, and often end up boring their customers and missing a great opportunity to share a great


story. Masters of sustainability storytelling will tell you the key to communicating responsible tourism is to present it as an experience. Why does a hotel’s sustainable tourism measures enhance your holiday experience? This could be connecting guests to community members they would be unlikely to meet otherwise, and facilitating cross-cultural learning about rural livelihoods. It could also be about how special onsite drinking water is for its health benefits and contributions to exciting projects around the world, rather than the fact it just saves plastic. One of our favourite examples, is sharing bedtime stories with your overnight guests based on local legend and their ancient wisdom about the abundant wildlife at that destination. Not only does this connect them demystify local superstitions, but connects them to the environment in which they’re in. 5. It’s not just about you Some of the most powerful initiatives Wild Asia has encountered have been those who embrace multi-stakeholder engagement. Tourism enterprises who acknowledge that their business’s activities alone cannot create an all-encompassing sustainable destination, without the engagement and contribution of their community, are making far more positive impact than those trying to do everything alone. Tourism is an industry that reaches a wide supply chain, and by embracing each layer and player, a humble hotel can end up connecting

many organisations and individuals in crucial sustainability agendas. We’ve seen businesses form community committees, encouraging all members to learn from one another and identify issues and needs that matter to local people, whilst collectively planning and implementing solutions. 6. People will pay for it Through the Awards we have heard stories of poorly paid farmers or under-valued handicrafts, and other tales of communities not benefiting from the tourism economy. Some of our Awardees demonstrate that quality indigenous crafts or delicious organic produce is worth money and people will pay for it. Their success has lied in effectively engaging producers and introducing better quality control measures, partnered with creative marketing and storytelling to audiences. Once buyers understand the story of how special a product is; once they’ve been invited to buy a piece of history and know who made it in fair conditions, they will pay more for that. Responsible tourism doesn’t mean cheap products; paying people right for carefully curated experiences, is worth more and the responsible traveller understands and values that.


Moving forward


It has been a huge honour to be part of the annual Award for the last four years. Never, have I made connections with such inspiring professionals who keep my love of travel alive so much! Managing the Awards, I have been fortunate to engage with hundreds of committed tourism businesses and initiatives that are deeply invested in making the travel industry a powerful approach to local development. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Award recipients for sharing their stories with us over the years, which have motivated us to contribute to a sustainable approach to business Asia wide. This reflection activity to celebrate our Awards’ tenth birthday has been a humbling experience. It’s been amazing to reconnect and learn how businesses have grown. I am reminded that the community we have created is open to sharing their experiences with like-minded entrepreneurs and travellers alike. When we started the Awards, Wild Asia was spearheading the discussion at a regional level, and was regarded as a pioneer. For a decade, our Awards were an integral part of inspiring the travel industry from within, creating a dialogue between businesses and allowing them to learn from their peers. During this time, more and more award programs have appeared, providing more opportunities for businesses to be rewarded for their innovation and commitment, than ever before. We’ve collected ten years worth of case studies from all corners of South and South East Asia, from businesses of all shapes and sizes, and are proud to share these openly with global entrepreneurs passionate about making tourism more responsible. And so, our Awards come to an end. Consolidating our most inspiring case studies in this year’s 10th anniversary reflection celebration has solidified our unique knowledge and experience as an organisation. Wild Asia has a huge amount of insight into the sector in Asia. We’ve assessed hundreds of businesses from across this part of the world, and are excited to share our understanding of their success with practitioners wanting to adopt proven replicable best practices.

Businesses can continue to maximize Wild Asia’s bespoke advisory and consultancy services. Our team consists of individuals with expertise in water efficiency, community development, sustainable design, wildlife conservation, and more. Every support service we provide to tourism businesses varies, and is personalized to each case. We aim to help businesses understand their current achievements, through initial benchmarking against global standards, and then by highlighting areas to improve, design a training and implementation program to fit that business’s needs. We can collaborate with enterprises seeking both a holistic approach to uplifting their social and environmental responsibility on all levels, as well as those who are very focused on a specific area. These services are provided at your destination for a variety of lengths in time and budgets to suit all. We have advisers based in different corners of Asia, from all over the world. Moving forward, Wild Asia hopes to continue to be an important organization that shares lessons learned and useful resources on responsible tourism. Our on-ongoing partnership with ITB Asia brings the business community our annual events with talks from sustainable travel leaders from the region, and other networking opportunities, each year. We invite you to connect with us via Facebook for other regular updates in responsible tourism, as well as the other industries we are associated with, including the sustainable palm oil sector. Once again, thank you to everyone who has been part of this remarkable journey over the last ten years. We look forward to staying in touch and continuing to drive progression in this sector, and connect with those wanting to join the family.

Amy McLoughlin Responsible Tourism Awards Manager


For more information about responsible tourism, to access resources, and enquire about consultancy services - contact us: rt.wildasia.org rt@wildasia.org

Transformational Tourism | Wild Asia  

Between 2006 – 2016 we engaged with hundreds of inspirational tourism businesses, initiatives, and practitioners through our annual Responsi...

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