2008 winners

Overall Winner: new zealand

The judges declared New Zealand the overall winner of the Responsible Tourism Awards 2008 for proving that it is possible to develop a national strategy which uses tourism to help make better places to live and to visit.

New Zealand has implemented many of the principles of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations and demonstrated what national government can achieve - working with the private sector, local communities and local government - by harnessing tourism to benefit their people and their environment.

If more national governments followed their example, tourism would make a much more positive contribution around the world.

Best tour operator

sponsored by The Adventure Company

Winner: Explore, UK
A leader in implementing responsible tourism principles for many years, Explore has been recognised for training and employing local tour leaders, pushing its suppliers to deliver, investing £300k into energy-efficient projects including cooking stoves in Cambodia and most recently for appointing a full-time responsible tourism manager.

Highly commended:
  • First Choice, UK
  • Boogie Pilgrim, Madagascar

Best large hotel / accommodation (more than 50 rooms)

sponsored by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Winner: Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island, Australia
For demonstrating that a large resort accommodating 60,000 guests per year and with 100,000 day visitors can be managed to have a low environmental impact; and for educating its guests about conservation, engaging positively with the indigenous people enabling them to share their culture and skilling them for employment.

Highly commended:
  • Hotel Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
  • Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, Malaysia

Best small hotel / accommodation (fewer than 50 rooms)

sponsored by VisitBrighton

Winner: Nkwichi Lodge, Mozambique
For demonstrating what a small, privately-owned, luxury eco-tourist lodge can contribute through a $5 bed night levy, and for their role in the creation of the Umoji Association representing 20,000 local people through their chiefs and elected representatives. One of the first large community associations in Mozambique, it has enabled six communities to secure their land rights certificates from the Government.

Highly commended:
  • Our Native Village, India, Cottage Lodge , UK
  • Safari Garden Hotel, The Gambia

Best in a mountain environment

sponsored by Exodus

Winner: Community Action Treks & Community Action Nepal, UK/Nepal
For the example they have set in using tourism for the economic and cultural benefit of communities, for the provision of health and education services, and for their work with porters which contributed to the development of the International Porter Protection Group.

Highly commended:
  • Shakti Tours Private Limited, India
  • Upland Escapes , UK

Best in a marine environment

sponsored by Royal Caribbean

Winner: Ecoventura, Ecuador
For contributing scholarships for education, and developing micro-business for local women, converting a fishing boat into a restaurant and boutique providing alternative livelihoods for the wives of fishermen. Ecoventura was also among the first cruise operators to be independently environmentally audited.

Highly commended:
  • blue o two, UK/Egypt
  • Scottish Seabird Centre, UK

Best cruise or ferry operator

sponsored by The Passenger Shipping Association

Winner: Holland America Line, USA
For recognising that the industry has negative environmental impacts and accepting responsibility for doing something about it. They have reduced dockside emissions by 20%, developed and implemented an “Avoiding Whale Strikes” training programme, increased recycling by 50% and introduced new scrubber technology.

Highly commended:
  • Ullswater Steamers, UK

Best low carbon transport & technology

sponsored by Maison de la France

Winner: Bycyklen - The Foundation City Bikes in Copenhagen, Denmark
With more than 2,000 city bikes for free public use by locals and tourists alike, Bycyklen demonstrates the potential scale and replicability of an initiative which reduces carbon emissions in the city and promotes exercise. The Foundation works with non profit organisation Incita to provide local people with skills and enable them to gain employment.

Highly commended:
  • Bugbugs Media Ltd, UK

Best for conservation of endangered species or protected area

sponsored by South Australian Tourism Commission

Winner: Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps, Kenya
For demonstrating that a high revenue, low impact tourism development approach can benefit the local Maasai, enabling them through developing conservancies and tourism in partnership with safari companies to create employment and community income and to conserve their land for wildlife.

Highly commended:
  • Turtle Conservation Project, Sri Lanka
  • Peak District Environmental Quality Mark, UK
  • Caiman Ecological Refuge, Brazil

Best for conservation of cultural heritage

sponsored by Jamaica Tourist Board

Winner: Shigar Fort - Palace Restoration Project, Pakistan
For the sensitive restoration of this historic building and its development as a hotel which has placed the property once again at the heart of the community as a cultural and economic asset bringing employment, microenterprise opportunities, and social and cultural empowerment for local men and women.

Highly commended:
  • Andaman Discoveries, Thailand

Best for poverty reduction

sponsored by PromPeru

Winner: Gambia is Good Project, The Gambia
For demonstrating that it is possible for local farmers, 1,000 growers, 90% of them women, to produce 20 tonnes of vegetables and fruit in the tourism season to supply the tourism hotels and make a real contribution to the reduction of poverty in The Gambia – this is a local project of international significance.

Highly commended:
  • Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Dominica
  • Stormsriver Adventures, South Africa

Best volunteering organisation

sponsored by Intrepid Travel

Winner: Camps International, UK
Highly Commended in 2007, Camps International has now integrated their ‘pledge to the planet’ into their business plan and responded to the recent post-election violence in Kenya - which resulted in radically reduced tourist numbers - by maintaining local staffing levels and expanding their commitment to Kenya projects as a contribution to recovery.

Highly commended:
  • Blue Ventures Expeditions, Madagascar/UK
  • Voluntours, South Africa

Best destination

sponsored by Conservation International

Winner: New Zealand
For developing an integrated approach to tourism development at the national level and managing it: identifying and then attracting those tourists who contribute most to the economy, focussing on yield rather than merely on numbers of arrivals, spreading the benefits of tourism and fully integrating environmental issues into its quality standard Qualmark Green.

Highly commended:
  • Town of Bouctouche, Canada
  • St Peter's, Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK

Best personal contribution

sponsored by Tourism Ireland

Joint winner: Jane Ashton - Head of Sustainable Development - TUI Travel PLC
For successfully advocating the case for sustainable tourism in First Choice since the mid-nineties and for taking responsibility for securing change and providing leadership in First Choice and now TUI Travel, and across the large operator sector as demonstrated through the ground breaking People and the Environment report and the World Care Fund.

Joint winner: Diana McIntyre-Pike - Chair/CEO - Countrystyle Community Tourism Network An innovator and leader for many years in Jamaica, Diana McIntyre-Pike has worked with communities to develop village stays and community experiences, as well as with the larger resorts and operators to market them, developing the Countrystyle Institute for Sustainable Tourism (CIST) to provide training to communities in basic hospitality skills, entrepreneurship and environmental awareness.

Highly commended:
  • Christopher James MBE - Regional Director, Travel Foundation Tobago
Written by Justin Francis
Photo credits: [Page banner: New Zealand]