TUI Nederland, a market leader in the Dutch tourism sector has been announced as the Overall Winner of “the 10th World Responsible Tourism Awards at World Travel Market (WTM), sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism. TUI Nederland was commended for its work in child protection, in particular their ‘Say NO to child sex tourism in the Northeast of Brazil’ project and a campaign across Dutch airports to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation issues among travelers.
The 10th annual World Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony was hosted at World Travel Market as part of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day. The Awards were presented by Justin Francis, Managing Director of responsibletravel.com, organizer and founder of the Awards, and His Excellency Ahmed bin Nasser bin Hamad al Mahrzi, Sultanate of Oman Tourism Minister, headline sponsor of the Awards.
In addition to the overall winner, seven winners’ awards were presented in a range of categories: Best for the Local Economy, Best for Child Protection, Best for Campaigning, Best Responsible Wildlife Experiences, Best for Water Conservation, Best Destination for Responsible Tourism and the People’s Choice category, which was decided by public vote. In addition, 10 organisations were rewarded as Highly Commanded, as well as three individuals for the category Best Photography for Responsible Tourism.
- Best for Responsible Wildlife Experiences: Nam Nern Night Safari, Lao PDR
- Best for Water Conservation: Chepu Adventures EcoLodge, Chiloe island in Patagonia
- Best for the Local Economy: Village Ways, India & Ethiopia
- Best for Responsible Tourism Campaigning: people and places, UK
- Best Destination for Responsible Tourism: Bonito, Brazil
- Best for Child Protection: TUI Nederland, the Netherlands
- Best Photography for Responsible Tourism: No winner (3 Highly Commended)
- People’s Choice: Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile
Nam Nern Night Safari: Judges’ reasons for winning: “Nam Nern Night Safari has been designed to support the conservation of tigers and their prey, as well as other wildlife, by placing a monetary value on tigers and other wildlife for local people. Each reported sighting of wildlife by a tourist results in a financial reward for the villagers, and this includes people who might otherwise poach. Since 2010 there have been 370 visitors in 142 groups, and the revenues have been shared by 1000+ families in the 14 surrounding villages. The village development fund generated $2,860 this year, roughly $200 per village. It has been used by villages to improve their well-being through small projects. Although the numbers are small, the initiative has been very successful in increasing the number of wildlife sightings per boats – they have doubled. The judges felt that this approach should be replicable and would contribute to creating a more positive relationship between local communities, wildlife and tourism”.
Chepu Adventures EcoLodge: Judges’ reasons for winning: “One of the owners is an engineer and the eco-lodge uses only rain water in the bathrooms and kitchen, harvested from the roofs of the lodge and stored in a well and large water tanks. Chepu uses solar water heaters to provide hot water for showers and the kitchen; its electricity is provided by wind and solar energy. There is also a sophisticated shower control. The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which Chepu engages the visitor enabling them to monitor their own water consumption by providing them with computer-fed feedback on the amount of water they are using. If customers keep within their ‘eco-limit’ they can choose to have a tree planted in Patagonia or a reduction on their bill”.
Village Ways: Judges’ reasons for winning: “Village Ways was recognised in 2009 as the Best Tour Operator for Cultural Engagement. This time the judges were impressed by their innovative and distinctive business model. In order to discourage out-migration and to create additional livelihoods in marginal rural areas, Village Ways has developed a business strategy based on Village Tourism Enterprises: tourists walk from village to village accompanied by local guides, eating locally grown and prepared meals and enjoying local traditional singing, music and dancing. Guests travel “like a local” and have the opportunity to interact with villagers; and if they wish, to participate in village activities. Village Ways has brought significant income to rural households struggling against poverty”.
People & Places: Judges’ reasons for winning: “Highly commended in 2007 in the Best Volunteering category, they won this same category in 2009. The judges were impressed by their campaign for responsible volunteering; they have also been active in campaigning for child protection whilst running their small business. Their campaign has been funded entirely through their business. Making extensive use of the social media the two directors have given their time freely to fight for change. Over the last few years, practice in volunteering has improved, although there is still much to be done – people and places have been at the heart of that movement to raise awareness and demand action, working with many partners in the UK and abroad”.
Bonito: Judges’ reasons for winning: “Bonito was launched as a tourism destination when its natural beauty was revealed on Brazilian television in 1990; in 2012 it received 190,000 tourists. Bonito is famous for its crystal clear waters, caves, mountain and forests with diverse wildlife to be found in a national park and ten private reserves. As tourists began to arrive several concerns emerged: there was fear that unregulated tourism could impact on the environment. The private sector businesses and the public authorities realized that tourism development in Bonito needed to be managed so they developed a voucher system to control visitor numbers. The judges were impressed by the voucher system and keen to recognize its contribution to ensuring the sustainability of the destination.”
TUI Nederland: Judges’ reasons for winning: “TUI Nederland developed policies and trained staff to identify child abuse, whether amongst the families for whom they provide holidays or abuse perpetrated by travelers in the destination. They have been working to protect children from abuse since 2002 when they signed the Child Protection Code with ECPAT Nederland. They have worked to embed child protection into their routine business operations and have extended this commitment through their network of supplier and partners. Realizing that child sex tourism is silently growing in the Northeast of Brazil, TUI Nederland and its numerous partners launched a campaign to say “a collective ‘NO’ to child sex tourism in the Northeast of Brazil”. TUI Nederland has contributed over €100,000 since 2008 to fighting child exploitation in the region; 80 adolescents from 14 to 17 years of age have been trained as ‘Youth Mobilizers’, for the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, reaching over 2,000 people. Their vocational training program has 104 graduates of whom 39 were employed throughout 2012”.
Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve (People’s Choice): Judges’ comments: “Huilo Huilo addresses all three pillars of sustainability. It works to conserve the forest and endangered species; it has worked with local people to ensure that those who used to make their living from logging and timber are now able to live off tourism and this biological reserve has been a catalyst to creating opportunities for local people to create their own businesses, fostering local cultural and artistic heritage. Huilo Huilo won the Best for Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats category in 2012. Huilo Huilo received a total of 2,187 votes”.
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.