2010 winners

Overall winner: Nihiwatu, Indonesia

The judges declared Nihiwatu, Indonesia the overall winner of the Responsible Tourism Awards 2010 with the following statement.

"The Judges were impressed by the unquestionable scale of change achieved by this comparatively small resort. Importantly, Nihiwatu has been able to leverage the income from what is a very luxurious tourism experience to alleviate poverty among the Sumbanese, and they have done so without compromising the comfort of that experience."

Best personal contribution

sponsored by Oman Ministry of Tourism

Winner: Sam Raphael
Sam Raphael's vision was to use tourism to revitalize a community facing poverty after the demise of the banana industry. In an area devoid of tourism his Jungle Bay resort in Dominica was constructed, opened and is now almost entirely operated by the local community. The trickle-down effect of his efforts are felt far and wide from the farmers who supply the resort with produce to the disabled children cared for at his "House of Hope", and the youth supported by Sam's initiative to mentor and promote young entrepreneurs. The philosophy that underpins Jungle Bay is wholly down to the passion and commitment of Sam.

Highly commended:
  • Jo Baddeley, Sustainable Destinations Manager, Thomas Cook
  • Scott Rains, Disability and Inclusive Development Consultant

Best destination

sponsored by Oman Ministry of Tourism

Winner: Nurture Lakeland, UK
With over 17 years experience of inspiring businesses to support conservation and adopt sustainable tourism practices Nurture Lakeland is a pioneer of local tourism partnerships. This destination's results speak for themselves - £1.7 million has been raised working with 1,200 tourism businesses in fundraising for local conservation projects. Campaigns such as a car free scheme and the Herdy Fund have been successful at encouraging visitors to the area to ditch the car, as well as promoting the conservation of the Herdwick sheep, and the rural lifestyle associated with upland fell farming in Cumbria and the lakes.

Highly commended:
  • Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association, Australia

Best in a mountain environment

sponsored by Oman Ministry of Tourism

Winner: Ecosphere, India
Ecosphere is a self-reliant social enterprise where the economic benefits to mountain communities are both clearly demonstrated and transformative. Ecosphere has moved from being donor funded to self-supporting, and 55 out of the 66 villages in the Spiti Valley have seen their incomes rise by up to 50% through Ecosphere’s diverse initiatives and responsible tourism programme. Their carbon reduction programme is also comprehensive, citing a reduction of 520 tons of C\O2 per year.

Highly commended:
  • Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco, Shakti Himalaya, India, Village of Corrençon en Vercors, France

Best tour operator for local economies

sponsored by Oman Ministry of Tourism

Winner: Desafio Adventure Company, Costa Rica
This Costa Rican adventure tourism operator is awarded for an investment in local people that goes beyond the benefits to their tourism business. An income of £1.2 million annually from 15,000 passengers allows Desafio to support their staff in their own local entrepreneurial initiatives - helping their guides to buy photographic equipment, drivers to buy vehicles for their own business ventures, and even supporting the office manager in developing her own website. They demonstrate that the benefits of local tourism can have lasting effects on local livelihoods.

Best responsible cruise or ferry operator

sponsored by Oman Ministry of Tourism

Winner: Orion Expedition Cruises, Australia
Orion Expedition Cruising is the only cruise company with Earthcheck certification, and shows a real commitment to the communities it visits. By acknowledging that authenticity can only be realized for their guests by working in partnership with communities, they conduct community research ahead of establishing new ports of call - helping protect cultural heritage and environment while offering real benefits to the places they visit. They have influenced suppliers to make positive changes like moving from plastic containers to cardboard and aluminum bottles over plastic. Cruise is a growth area and this small operator is one to watch.

Highly commended:
  • Kalimantan Tour Destinations, Indonesia

Best volunteering organisation

sponsored by Swaziland Tourism Authority

Winner: Blue Ventures, UK
Blue Ventures is an example of how social initiatives can contribute to local livelihood diversification, and support community resilience in the face of upheaval. In 2009 their project in Madagascar was threatened by the political crisis and many organisations chose to pull out of the country. Testament to their principles, Blue Ventures stayed committed to the project, with head office staff in London taking a 25% pay cut to ensure the maintenance of the jobs in Madagascar.

Highly commended:
  • Biosphere Expeditions, UK
  • BTCV, UK, The Great Orangutan Project, Borneo

Best accommodation for the environment

sponsored by Tourism Western Australia

Winner: Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, Jamaica
Proof that indulgence doesn't have to be at the expense of the environment, Mockingbird Hill is a small locally-owned luxury hotel that drives innovation, ensures that good practices are identified and monitored and add value to the local community. The judges were impressed by the scale and depth of their ability to measure impacts - including energy consumption, economic impact for local partners, and recording biodiversity. They list the short distance from their local suppliers down to the last kilometre - impressive in Jamaica where the reliance is typically on imports. They have driven innovation - conducting in-house recycling in an area without the infrastructure for it, and encouraging their suppliers to improve environmental performance.

Highly commended:
  • Bedruthan Steps Hotel & Spa, UK

Best in a marine environment

sponsored by Tourism Fiji

Winner: Matava, Fiji
Matava is a beacon for responsible tourism and an example to other dive sites. They maintain a strong commitment to both the conservation of the marine environment and the development of the local Fijian community. All staff and dive guides are from local villages, they have signed an agreement with local villages designating three established marine reserves as 100% no-take zones, across large geographic areas, and even succeeded in getting marine conservation on to the Fijian National Curriculum.

Highly commended:
  • Coral Cay Conservation, UK

Best for poverty reduction

sponsored by PromPeru

Winner: Nihiwatu, Indonesia
Over 20,000 people living in 400 villages on the Indonesian island of Sumba benefit from Nihiwatu being their neighbour. 500 guests donating $400,000 annually at this remote 14-room resort support the Sumba Foundation in its remarkable work. Malaria has been reduced by 85% with at least 53 lives saved, five clinics looking after 18,000 people have been opened, and specialists have been brought onto the island to perform 263 life changing eye and 168 cleft palate surgeries. 14 primary schools are supported and the foundation has been able to bring clean water to the Sumbanese community as well as start a malnutrition project - with 327 children having benefitted so far.

Highly commended:
  • Kaliandra Foundation, Indonesia

Best for low carbon transport & technology

sponsored by Quito Visitors' Bureau, Ecuador

Winner: Seat61.com, UK
No stranger to the Awards, Seat61.com has proved invaluable in the last year not only to those who knew they want to travel by train or ferry but also to those who didn't. Strikes, airlines collapsing and volcanic ash forced many travelers to turn to Mark Smith's remarkable site with up to the minute information for travelers. The site has grown from 6.5 million to almost 10 million users and been instrumental in the growth of rail travel bookings.

Highly commended:
  • snowcarbon.co.uk Ltd, UK

Best accommodation for local communities

sponsored by Kenya Tourist Board

Winner: Hotel Punta Islita, Costa Rica Hotel Punta Islita is culturally embedded
in the local community and fully Costa Rican owned. 60% of all hotel guests visit their Contemporary Art Museum, bringing in £100k to local artists. 52% of the money that the hotel generates stays in the local community, helps to combat urban migration, and has nurtured a steady growth of micro-enterprises including seafood processing plants, restaurants and cafes, retail stores, furniture workshops, and tour operators.

Highly commended:
  • Cuyaqui Wayi Vicos, Peru
  • Huaorani Ecolodge, Ecuador
  • Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Dominica

Best for conservation of wildlife & habitats

sponsored by South Australian Tourism Commission

Winner: ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, New Zealand
With a 500 year vision, Zealandia immediately stood out as an ambitious conservation initiative which engages with tourism to secure local support. But when you're trying to return an area to a time before humans - over 80 million years ago - it is this vision that is required! This unique conservation project is already a safe haven for some of New Zealand's most endangered native species. The ecological restoration of this urban wildlife sanctuary is well underway and through the removal of invasive species has enabled the successful reintroduction of species.

Highly commended:
  • Steppes Discovery, UK
Written by Justin Francis
Photo credits: [Page banner: Nihiwatu]