Responsible tourism campaign Award


The Best responsible tourism campaign category is for a campaign from a tourism business or organisation which has successfully championed responsible tourism. This could be a marketing campaign or an advocacy campaign.

Award explained: The Best responsible tourism campaign category looks to award a tourist board, tour operators, or tourism organisation or other individual or organisation which has developed a campaign successfully promoting a more responsible way to travel, educating travelers, and changing travel behaviour.

What the Judges want: An inspirational, innovative campaign which has had proven, measurable success in changing attitudes to travel and encouraging responsible tourism.

2016 winners

Gold award: Friends International - ChildSafe

Gold award: Friends International - ChildSafe, Cambodia
This campaign is not only hard hitting, but also holistic. Because it has to be. It deals with the exploitation of children in tourism, be it through the creation of false orphanages, forced begging, unethical employment and, at worst, sex tourism. All are unthinkable but sadly they are a reality. ChildSafe has, however, from their base in Cambodia, taken on the Southeast Asian countries in a whirlwind of activity to put a stop to child exploitation. And no one escapes taking responsibility on this one as far as ChildSafe is concerned. Everyone, from corporate leaders to backpackers, can take a step to protect a child in danger and ChildCare shows us how.

ChildSafe works in three very distinct areas: firstly, creating a social responsibility among travelers by giving them access to the ChildSafe Hotline where trained social workers are active 24/7 across 11 cities around South East Asia. There are also numbers on there for other child protection bureaus around the world listed on their website, an invaluable source of information, so if in doubt about something you witness, call them. Second, they provide vital training to the tourism industry, from hotels to airlines, restaurants to taxi drivers, and then certify them in being ChildSafe aware. They also then become members of ChildSafe, and you can look all of these members up on their website. The focus is still very much on Cambodia and SoutheastAsia when it comes to members at the moment, but the international list is growing, and we hope that this award will see potential members waking up and smelling the coffee.

Last but not least, these guys know how to campaign. Using video, leaflets and superb social media interaction, they have got the message out to millions of travelers and members of the travel industry that we can no longer stand by and allow this exploitation of children in the world of tourism. Campaigns such as "Children are not tourist attractions", "Think before giving to begging children" and "Don't create more orphans" have had a huge impact. A few of the hard hitting details include the facts that out of an estimated 8 million children living in institutions across the world, more than 80 percent are not orphans. And, in contrast, in 2015, an estimated 9 million people were targeted by messages sent by ChildSafe campaigns. In short, these are inspiring change makers, and they deserve to grow and grow.
Silver award: World Cetacean Alliance
For the non naturalists among us, cetaceans are the magnificent mammals of the marine world - the dolphins, whales and porpoises that we all love. The word comes from the Greek, ketos, meaning 'big fish' and when it comes to protecting these beauties, the World Cetacean Alliance really is the big fish out there. From lobbying both governments and the tourism industry, to being full on activists, the World Cetacean Alliance has achieved and continues to achieve the ultimate sea change.

The World Cetacean Alliance is actually a charitable partnership of 70 NGOs and whale watching tour companies who want to do things the right way, and who fundamentally believe that keeping cetaceans in captivity is unethical. They have lobbied different tourism organisations over the years to come on board and understand that not only is the fact that keeping cetaceans in captivity for tourism purposes is cruel, but there is a wealth of more responsible options for seeing them in the wild that should be promoted over the caged catastrophes.

When they realised that many of the bigger tour operators refused to come on board because they claimed that their customers still wanted to visit marine parks, they went to the customers instead, leading a 'Wild and Free' campaign with supporting partners such as Born Free, WhaleFest and Responsible Travel, asking people to no longer support marine parks. Which they did. And the tour companies listened. In 2016, SeaWorld finally announced that the current orcas in its care would be the last. And Virgin Group no longer works with any captive cetacean facility that takes animals from the wild. A superb example of partnerships, people and a lot of passion winning over profit, the journey is not over for the World Cetacean Alliance, however, but only just beginning, as they continue to promote responsible whale watching in wild places around the world. The plan is to designate international Whale Heritage Sites, a status that will be granted to places where cetaceans are celebrated, sustained and supported through law, policy and cooperation. So watch this space, albeit a very big space.

2013 winners

winner: people and places, UK

Winner: people and places, UK
Judges' reasons for winning: "people and places were highly commended in 2007 in the Best Volunteering category and 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".

  • people and places, UK
Highly Commended:
  • Snowcarbon, The Alps.
This category is new this year. Below are some past winners which reflect the aims of this category:

Previous Winners


  • 2012: Best Tour Operator for Promoting Responsible Tourism won by Explore
  • 2011: Best Low Carbon Initiative won by Eurostar International
  • 2010: Best Destination won by Nuture Lakeland, UK
  • 2007: Best for Conservation of Cultural Heritage won by Andaman Discoveries
  • 2006: Best Personal Contribution to Responsible Tourism won by Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61
Written by Justin Francis
Photo credits: [Page banner: Friends International - ChildSafe]