PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association)

Wild Asia values the importance of collaboration and is delighted to have signed an MOU with PATA to enhance the promotion of sustainable tourism across Asia and the Pacific.

PATANextGenLogo_BlackFounded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organisations, comprising 90 government, state and city tourism bodies, nearly 30 international airlines, airports and cruise lines, 57 educational institutions, and hundreds of travel industry companies in Asia Pacific and beyond. Thousands of travel professionals belong to the 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. The chapters organise travel industry training and business development events. Their grassroots activism underpins PATA’s membership of the Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), which includes ACICLIAIATAICAOWEFUNWTO, and the WTTC. The PATAmPOWER platform delivers unrivalled data, forecasts and insights from the PATA Strategic Intelligence Centre to members’ desktops and mobile devices anywhere in the world. PATA’s Head Office has been in Bangkok since 1998. The Association also has official offices or representation in Beijing, Sydney, Dubai, London and New York. 
PATA has been a champion of environmental and cultural heritage since its inception, and has measures taken to demonstrate PATA’s stance on social responsibility, including the 1970 conference on Tourism and Heritage Conservation, and the adoption of the APEC/PATA Code for Sustainable Tourism in 2001, only a few internal measures have been taken to actualize social responsibility efforts. These include the establishment of PATA Foundation, and of the PATA Gold Awards – of note is an award category of environment, which honours the “best” practices upheld by individuals or organizations in protection and conservation of the environment, and the establishment of the Sustainability and Social Responsibility (SSR) Committee and PATA Task Forces.
Today, PATA continues to build its partnerships with sustainability-minded organizations, which provide member benefits such as tools to become more sustainable, as well as educational sessions in the form of webinars. Additionally, PATA is striving to formalize ties with various branches of the UN, including UNWTO, ILO, UNEP, and UNESCO, and UNISDR, which will give the organization further support in realizing its potential and mission to develop a sustainable and responsible visitor economy in the Asia Pacific region.
In alignment with PATA’s 3 pillars – insightful research, aligned advocacy, and innovative events, PATA’s sustainability strategy objectives are to:
  • Generate tools that will allow sharing of knowledge on good sustainability practices
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and generate awareness on sustainability issues
  • Advocate for policies related to sustainable development of the visitor economy
  • Advocate for responsible organizational practices
  • Utilize PATA’s network to disseminate key related messages, disseminate awareness and knowledge on sustainability and social responsibility to develop a sustainable and responsible visitor economy
  • Incorporation of sustainability and social responsibility into all facets of PATA’s strategy and activities

Top 3 Inspiring Stories From Destinations 2014

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Asia is a big travel whirlpool with so many tourism businesses, activities and places to choose from. However in the masses, there are exceptional tourism businesses and projects in Asia that have done incredibly well, not just in a business sense but in leaving a positive impact on the environment and the lives of people living in those destinations.

Inspiring Stories from Destinations is an annual competition providing an international platform for tourism players to get their story heard at ITB Asia in Singapore. The competition seeks exciting stories from organisations and individuals who have found in themselves a passion to make a difference in the travel industry and leave a legacy for the next generation.

The selection of successful stories is based on the authenticity of the story, creative and innovative elements, and the power to inspire others towards making responsible tourism a reality. Wild Asia and Gaia Discovery together with our esteemed judges have chosen the TOP 3 winning stories from the list of applications received this year.

Top 3 Winners

2215646-25593141-thumbnailKutch Adventures Seeks Out Remote Artisans

The way Kutch Adventures started and introduced a completely different way of offering local experiences could be considered inspirational. By Kuldip Gadhvi, founder of Kutch Adventures India. It all began for me after the terrible earthquake of Gujarat in January 2001. We, the survivors of Kutch region were put in the awkward situation of having to accept aid. At the age of 18 I had to leave my school to help to support my family by working with various organizations that came to Kutch for earthquake relief, rescue and rehabilitation. Read more… 

SunriseChi Phat Community-based Eco-tourism: Forests for Life

Forests nurture lives, yet living in the forest takes courage. A tale told by Sokhem, founder of Chi Phat Community-based Eco-tourism. When I was born, my parents named me Sokhem. In English, it means Hope. This name puzzled me, as at that time there was no hope, no future. The Khmer Rouge had destroyed my home, Cambodia. In 1980, when I was a small boy, we had no food, no land, no money, no schools, and no doctors. Read more…

2215646-25593781-thumbnailMagic Tours for Authentic Experiences

Tourism can drive positive change – to bring deeper understanding between different cultures, provide economic benefits to local and disadvantaged communities. Deepa Krishnan, Founder of Magic Tours, relates how her business has brought about this new momentum in North India. Bringing change to local disadvantaged communities doesn’t happen by magic. To bring this change, businesses like us must actively work towards it. The effects of tourism especially can be negative; particularly in countries that have a lot of poverty. Read more…

 

*Stories were taken from Gaia Discovery, the joint partner for the 2014 Inspiring Stories from Destinations competition. 

Presentations From Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2014

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On behalf of ITB Asia, Wild Asia would like to thank you for participating in the Responsible Tourism Clinics and Forum at ITB Asia 2014. We would also like to thank all our speakers who graciously spared their time to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with us. We had a stellar crowd at the Responsible Tourism Centre booth and many meaningful and passionate discussions took place. Let’s hope they translate into reality, making destinations better for tourists and local communities that depend on it.

If you missed the responsible tourism events, don’t fret. We have compiled the presentations below. Simply click on the title to view the slides. Wild Asia hopes that you glean from these amazing case studies and knowledge. Please contact rt@wildasia.org if you wish to be part of 2014′s Responsible Tourism events.

Cost Effective Ways To Achieving Sustainable Tourism Best Practices

Speaker: Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters and Associates
It is easy to assume that only high tech solutions can be applied to achieve sustainability. This may be the case for economies that have very high labour costs and relatively cheap access to technology. In economies where labour costs are low and imported technology is very expensive there are alternative solutions to achieve sustainability and to provide memorable tourism experiences. This presentation will draw on case studies from across the globe and relate the findings that are relevant to the ASEAN region.

Eco Labels for Hotels: Why You Should Commit & What Benefits You Should Expect

Speaker: Nicolas Dubrocard, Associate Advisor, Wild Asia
Eco labels for hotels represent great challenges and lead to many questions, we will answer them during this presentation. We will highlight the advantages of a sustainable approach to face potential environmental crisis such as water shortage. We will discuss the guest new requirements in terms of environmental respect and the green market positioning. We will take into account the impact of competing for an eco label on the staff. We will browse the operating costs savings linked to a sound environmental management system. Finally we will introduce Wild Asia solutions to support your efforts to get an eco label.

Evolution of an Ecolodge: Lessons from the Gobi

Speaker: Jalsa Urubshurow, Founder & CEO, Nomadic Expeditions & the Three Camel Lodge
What makes a lodge “eco”? While” reduce, reuse and recycle” are fundamental aspects of environmentally friendly operations, a true ecolodge goes beyond the green footprint to embrace direct support for cultural and natural heritage, while delivering meaningful social and economic benefits to local people. This presentation tells the story of how Mongolia’s pioneer Three Camel Lodge became recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s 25 best lodges by developing a successful business model based upon sustainable tourism best practices.

How to Make Community-Based Tourism Work: Multi-stakeholder Success Stories From Thailand

Speaker: Dr Jutamas Jan Wisansing, Executive Director and Consultant, Perfect Link Consulting Group and Education Chair, Pacific Asia Tourism Associations (PATA) Thailand Chapter 

Stories from 13 selected communities from 6 designated areas for sustainable tourism development will be shared. These communities have been on the systematic process to manage the resource vulnerabilities and risks of being too overly popular, together with multi-stakeholders co-create community tourism products to meet market demand based on an appreciation of community local wisdoms. The clinic’s discussion will be focused on how to ensure CBTs are sustained on a long term basis – what’s the secret behind thriving CBTs?

Developing Community Tourism Businesses as part of the Tour Operator Supply Chain

Speaker: Adrienne Lee, Program Manager (Asia & Africa), Planeterra

This presentation is about incorporating sustainable practices that empower local communities into tour operator supply chains. The tour operator working directly with its foundation, is working directly with communities to empower underserved women and youth to access market-driven approaches to create sustainable businesses. There is often a resource gap between non-profit organizations and blended-social purpose businesses that are attempting to benefit the communities in which they work. Without a strong market, these non-profits or community tourism projects often fold and fail. However, when partnered with a for-profit operator, tourism businesses have one of the greatest reaches and spread to provide opportunity for marginalized communities, and allow social enterprises to scale, access knowledge transfer, and develop their first revenue generating programs.

Child Sex Tourism is a Risk for Asian Destinations and Companies

Speaker: Mike Nedelko, CRM & Marketing Manager, The Code

The Code would like to highlight the need for child protection as part of responsible and sustainable tourism and present it in the context of “crisis and risk management”. Even in Asian tourism sphere, the current initial thoughts of “crisis and risk management” may invoke precautions to prevent natural disasters that can impact tourism, such as tsunami and floods. However, there is also a real risk for a destination’s or a company’s brand and reputation when it comes to crimes of sexual exploitation of children or other crimes relating to children.

Sustainable Practices – Small Ways That Lead to Big Improvements & Cost Saving

Speaker: Ruben Cortes, Associate Director, Sustainable Building Initiative, Wild Asia
Sustainability is important for all tourism businesses, rural and urban. There has never been a better time to act for the benefit of your business and the “bottom line”. In this clinic session, Ruben will speak about some basic systems and ways that businesses can adopt to reduce negative impacts on the environment, reduce utility bills and ultimately benefit the business on the long run. The presentation will focus on proven steps that businesses can take in order to reduce their environmental impact in an affordable and effective way.

Burma’s Re-opening to the World: An Examination of Sustainable Tourism Development in the 21st Century

Speaker: Daniel Pliske, Sales and Marketing at Access China Tours
Now that Myanmar’s government has recently begun allowing travellers/tourists to freely enter the country, the formerly non-developed tourism industry is quickly becoming a major contributor to the nation’s economy. With these quickly increasing visitor numbers, tourism infrastructure development must focus on steady sustainability if it is to succeed as well as provide substantial benefits and opportunities for the country as a whole. The future of Myanmar’s tourism industry is dependent on sustainability practices and initiatives and therefore, must imitate its neighbor’s positive examples in order to preserve vast natural resources for future generations. Myanmar’s tourism development and future perceptions as an international tourist destination will have great implications for Southeast Asia as a whole, as they quickly become a key player in the regions tourism industry.

Creating Competitive Advantage through Responsible Tourism Practices

Speaker: Albert Teo, Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours & Sukau Rainforest Lodge

In a highly competitive business environment, brands are required to push the envelope to create evergreen unique selling propositions (USP). Albert will present three case studies based on the award winning Borneo Eco Tours, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, and Borneo Ecotourism, Solutions and Technologies Society (BEST), a non-profit foundation. The strategies discussed are from lessons learnt after being in business for 23 years. They include triple bottom line concepts, specialized responsible tourism practices that improve operations synergy and leverage on business strengths. Albert will also discuss challenges faced and solutions applied when dealing with community projects

Tourism and Climate Change

Speaker: Joyce Yu, Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN)

With its close connections to the environment and climate itself, tourism is considered to be a vulnerable and highly climate-sensitive economic sector. Climate affects a wide range of environmental resources that are essential attraction factors for tourism. Climate change will make destinations less attractive and jeopardize major sources of income. There are direct impacts like altered seasonal patterns or coastal erosion, loss of beach area and higher costs to protect and maintain waterfronts. Also there are indirect impacts of climate change like water shortages. Higher costs for risk management for touristic infrastructure might change the demand side of tourism markets or the visitor numbers. Furthermore, the awareness of tourists towards climate change and other environmental issues is likely to be a major driver of their future holiday choices. Operators that do not adapt to this emerging ‘climate aware’ market risk losing market share to more responsive competitors. This clinic will discuss the important relation between climate change and tourism, and will try to show some alternatives and help to promote a responsible and sustainable tourism, which bring not only benefits for the tourism industry but also to the people whose livelihood depends on tourism.

International Conference on Community Development Through Tourism

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On 16th and 17th September 2014, Wild Asia attended the International Conference on Community Development Through Tourism, in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. It brought together over 300 participants from tourism authorities, community tourism experts, and practitioners from 28 nations to discuss various aspects of community based tourism development. The aim of the conference was to present case studies, examine the mechanisms (both institutional and practical) that have led to successful inclusion of stakeholders, implementation, and analysis of the lessons learned in developing community based tourism enterprises. 

The conclusion of the two day inspirational event was to accept and endorse the prestigious Phnom Penh Declaration on socially responsible tourism that benefits host communities.

 In line with this year’s theme for UWNTO’s World Tourism day of tourism and community development, we resolve to seek further understanding, participation and involvement of the citizens in the ongoing process of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism development. I hereby proclaim the Phnom Penh Declaration as the official record of our two-day international conference. 

- H.E. Mr. Tith Chantha, Secretary of State of Tourism and High Representative of H.E. Dr. Thong Kohn, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia.

Wild Asia has been fortunate to encounter regional best practice in socially responsible tourism for almost a decade. Amy, from our tourism team, was delighted to be invited by PATA to share some insights into examples of tourism projects supporting community development. She shared case studies from our annual Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards and the Inspiring Stories from Destinations competition we hold each year at ITB Asia.

It was an honour to be invited to participate in this event, alongside industry experts and inspirational leaders. PATA invited me to speak about the role of communities in marine based tourism, and it was an exciting platform to share some of my favourite stories from businesses Wild Asia has been lucky to engage. These included Scuba Junkie, Sri Lanka’s Travel Foundation, Andaman Discoveries, the ChildSafe Network, and Nikoi Island.

- Amy McLoughlin, Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award Manager.


 

For full details on the conference and the Phnom Penh Declaration, please see the official Press Release here.

All keynote speakers’ slides can be viewed online here.

Browse photos of the event here.

Responsible Tourism Event Speakers 2014

For the Responsible Tourism Events at ITB Asia this year, we continue to bring you the best and most relevant speakers that can inspire and change the way you think about travel. Responsible Tourism is not just a label, it is essentially the way we do business and the way we experience the world. Our speakers have been handpicked because of their leadership, experience, knowledge and passion to make the world a better place via tourism. And we are proud to introduce you to them…

2014 Responsible Tourism Clinics & Forum Speakers

Tony July 2014 portrait  copy

Tony Charters

Principal, Tony Charters and Associates

Tony has over 20 years experience in tourism planning, development and management in the public and private sectors. He was a founding director of Ecotourism Australia and has served continuously on the EA board since 1991. For many years he also served on the board and executive of The International Ecotourism Society. An environmental scientist and urban and regional planner by profession, Tony entered the tourism industry after a successful career in World Heritage Area and multi-tenure protected area management. He has worked variously as tourism operator, policy maker and administrator. As Principal of Tony Charters and Associates he provides strategic advice to leading industry operators and government on tourism industry planning, development and investment; destination development; and the sustainable management. Tony convenes the annual the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Conference. He has served since 2004 as a Finalist Judge in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards hosted by the World Travel and Tourism Council, and as a Destination Stewardship Committee member for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) by the Governor-General for his services to the ecotourism industry, nature-based recreation and environmental education.

JensJens Thraenhart

Founder, Digital Innovation Asia

Jens Thraenhart was appointed by the tourism ministries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and China (Yunnan and Guanxi) to head the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) as its Executive Director. The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is an inter-governmental organization to promote the Mekong region as a single tourism destination, and foster responsible tourism development in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Jens Thraenhart is founder & president of Digital Innovation Asia (DIA), an initiative endorsed by the UNWTO, ASEAN, and PATA, as well as NTOs in Asia, building digital capacity from social to mobile in the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific, including innovative initiatives such as E-Tourism Asia, E-Tourism China, Blogger Match-Up, and Digital Aid Asia. He also founded China Travel Trends, as well as award-winning China digital marketing firm Dragon Trail in 2009, and has led marketing and Internet strategy teams with the Canadian Tourism Commission and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and has consulted for many global companies. Educated at Cornell University with a Masters of Management in Hospitality, Mr. Thraenhart was recognized as one of the travel industry’s top 100 rising stars by Travel Agent Magazine in 2003, was listed as one of HSMAI’s 25 Most Extraordinary Sales and Marketing Minds in Hospitality and Travel in 2004 and 2005, and named as one of the Top 20 Extraordinary Minds in European Travel and Hospitality in 2014. A UNWTO Affiliate Member, and Chair of PATA China, he founded the Annual China Responsible Tourism Forum & Awards in 2011. A dual citizen of Germany and Canada, Jens now lives between Beijing/China and Bangkok/Thailand.

Photo N.DubrocardNicolas Dubrocard

Associate Advisor (Responsible Tourism), Wild Asia 

Nicolas Dubrocard has been working on sustainability issues with hotels for the past decade. He has been the International Director of Green Key, an international eco-label implemented in 40+ countries, and prior to that he managed the Every Drop Counts Programme for the Travel Foundation in Morocco. Nicolas’s knowledge of sustainability management is further strengthened through his work auditing more than 100 eco-hotels in 25 countries. Based in Bangkok since 2013 he adapted Kuoni Water Management manual and tools for use in the Thai context, in addition to implementing the project in Thailand for partnering hotels. Most recently he moved to Malaysia and joined Wild Asia team.

10255116_10152059412692263_3495870044443367807_nDr. Jutamas Jan Wisansing

Executive Director and Consultant, Perfect Link Consulting Group and Education Chair, Pacific Asia Tourism Associations (PATA) Thailand Chapter

She completed a Master’s degree in commerce and management and also a doctorate in tourism planning and destination marketing from Lincoln University, New Zealand. She has now been a tourism lecturer/trainer/coach/consultant for over 17 years. Her extensive researches in destination marketing and management resulted in innovative capacity building and learning tools to develop multi-stakeholders participatory approach for sustainable tourism development and community based tourism programs. She is trained to be professional presenter and Emcee which enhance professional abilities to provide engaged and stimulating workshops and trainings. She has been providing her tourism expertise for various government agencies involving in tourism development in Thailand, for example Tourism Authority of Thailand, Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Pubilc Organisation) Thailand, Tourism Council of Thailand. As a founder, an executive director and principle consultant at Perfect link Consulting Group “a consortium of experts”, her role is also to manage diverse knowledge “think tank”, specializing in capacity building programme, tourism marketing, branding, “Glocalisation” of culinary supply for sustainable procurement, organization development and sustainable tourism development and community participation in sustainable development.

MikeIDMike Nedelko

CRM & Marketing Manager, The Code

Mike brings a wealth of experience in relationship marketing from business-to-business contexts across the private, public and development sector. Over the last 6 years Mike has helped organisations align digital technologies with their organisational goals to develop partnership synergies as well as analyse, engage and mobilize audiences. Before joining The Code in 2014, Mike worked for UNFPA and UNAIDS.

adrienneAdrienne Lee

Program Manager (Asia and Africa), Planeterra

Her work with Planeterra involves evaluating the tourism supply chain and developing market-driven approaches to strengthened and promote community development initiatives, especially those that empower underserved women. With a background in Corporate Social Responsibility, Adrienne has worked with both grassroots NGOs and business-backed non-profits to develop and engage companies with best practices in regards to child and labour rights. Adrienne holds a Master’s in Environmental Applied Science and Management with a focus on environmental sustainability and remediation in communities in The Global South. Adrienne is a firm believer in learning through experience, travel, and those that inspire around you.

Ruben CortesRubén Cortes

Associate Director, Sustainable Building Initiative, Wild Asia

Rubén combines experience in management, business development and education from Europe, Latin America and South East Asia with a great passion for social issues and sustainable models of development. His interest in pragmatic effective solutions drove him to learn what is considered the most radically sustainable housing model: Earthship Biotecture. Ruben has undertaken retrofitting projects, and supported permaculture efforts as a lead builder and workshop facilitator. He was also one of the main coordinators of the Windship project, an effort born as response to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), in the Philippines. Together with Wild Asia, Ruben has now created the Sustainable Building initiative that aims to inspire people to fulfil their basic needs in a comfortable way and in harmony with our planet.

Pliske Profile PictureDaniel Pliske

Sales and Marketing at Access China Tours

Daniel is an avid world traveler who has visited nearly 40 countries on six continents. He worked and traveled in Asia from 2010 through 2012. His three week backpacking trip in Myanmar inspired him to conduct extensive research in graduate school on the future of the country’s tourism industry as well as what sustainable tourism practices/initiatives are currently in place. Daniel holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management from Colorado State University (CSU). He recently began working in sales and marketing for Access China Tours, a boutique luxury tour operator headquartered in Vancouver that provides unforgettable once in a lifetime journeys to various Asian countries, for American and Canadian travelers. Daniel currently resides in Denver, Colorado where he enjoys exploring the great outdoors and traveling in his spare time.

ALbert teoAlbert Teo Chin Kion

Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours & Sukau Rainforest Lodge

A graduate in Economics (Honours) from the University of London in 1977 and has been in the tourism industry for the last thirty seven years. Albert Teo had travelled around the Asia Pacific countries as a keynote speaker on Ecotour and Ecolodge operations. In October 2006, he has been appointed to be the Adjunct Lecturer and in 2013 was conferred a Fellow by Edith Cowan University, Australia for his contribution to the ecotourism industry. His companies Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge through his success formula continue to win international ecotourism awards. He is currently focusing his energy on developing social entrepreneurship through his community/ environment profit foundation under Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST) Society.

Chan Beng SengChan Beng Seng

Coordinator for the Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) 

As the coordinator for the Global Alternative Tourism Network of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY), he is involved with local Asian YMCAs and communities that are working to provide alternative and sustainable tourism that is community based, ecologically friendly and economically rewarding for the local hosting communities. The network is also concerned about impact of mass tourism on climate change and tries to promote responsible travel as a tool for ramification. As coordinator of GATN, he provides training and helps local YMCAs to host Alternative Tourism programs. He also facilitates the network of both hosting and sending parties. Beng Seng has 25 years experiences in working with and training young people in fields of faith and social awareness. The APAY is headquartered in Hong Kong and has members in 17 countries in Asia Pacific. The APAY is also related to the World Alliance of YMCAs, a global network.

Jalsa2Jalsa Urubshurow

Founder and CEO, Nomadic Expeditions and the Three Camel Lodge

Mr. Urubshurow is dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism in Mongolia while sharing the wonders of its cultural and natural treasures with travelers from around the world. After the peaceful revolution that brought democracy to Mongolia in 1990, its first Prime Minister recruited Mr. Urubshurow to advise on expanding accessibility to Western travelers which led to the establishment of Nomadic Expeditions. The company has replicated Mr. Urubshurow’s experiences exploring Mongolia’s ecology and culture for thousands of adventurers and Mr. Urubshurow has been named the “World’s Top Travel Specialist” for Mongolia by Condé Nast Traveler for the past 6 consecutive years. In 2002, Nomadic Expeditions opened the Three Camel Lodge, the first true eco-lodge accommodation in Mongolia and a pioneer is sustainable tourism best practices. National Geographic Traveler named the Three Camel Lodge one of the “25 World’s Best Lodges” in 2013. Mr. Urubshurow also served as a judge for the 2011- 2014 Tourism For Tomorrow Award of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). He is the recipient of the Order of Polar Star – the highest civilian award the government of Mongolia – and recently his company Nomadic Expeditions became one of the founding partner sponsors of the World Legacy Awards initiated by the National Geographic Society and ITB Berlin.

 

Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2014

ITB-Asia_RT-Clinics_Wild-Asia2

Responsible Tourism Forum & Clinics

October 29 – 31, Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Every year, ITB Asia offers practitioners, newbies and pioneers a great stage for responsible tourism topics to be discussed. Wild Asia, ITB Asia’s official CSR partner is proud to put together and announce 2014’s series of Responsible Tourism events. Experts and experienced practitioners will be presenting concepts, international standards, lessons learnt, current trends and notable regional case studies. As always, we will be stationed at the Responsible Tourism Centre Booth at Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65. Do come by for a chat with us.

Engage in a series of personalised clinics and talks to learn and be inspired by leading experts.

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Responsible Tourism Clinics, 30 October 2014 (Thursday)

Venue: Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

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Time Topic & Speaker(s)
10:00 – 10:30am How To Make Community-Based Tourism Work: Multi-stakeholder Success Stories From Thailand
Dr Jutamas Jan Wisansing, Executive Director and Consultant, Perfect Link Consulting Group and Education Chair, Pacific Asia Tourism Associations (PATA) Thailand Chapter
10:30 – 11:00am Developing Community Tourism Businesses as part of the Tour Operator Supply Chain
Adrienne Lee, Program Manager (Asia & Africa), Planeterra
11:00am – 12:00noon Revealing Of The Top 3 Winners of the Inspiring Stories Competition
2:00 – 2:30pm Child Sex Tourism is a Risk for Asian Destinations and Companies
Mike Nedelko, CRM & Marketing Manager, The Code
2:30 – 3:00pm Sustainable Practices – Small Ways That Lead to Big Improvements & Cost Saving
Ruben Cortes, Associate Director, Sustainable Building Initiative, Wild Asia
3:00 – 3:30pm Burma’s Reopening to the World: An Examination of Sustainable Tourism Development in the 21st Century
Daniel PliskeSales and Marketing at Access China Tours
 3:30 – 4:00pm Creating Competitive Advantage Through Responsible Tourism Practices
Albert Teo Chin Kion, Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours & Sukau Rainforest Lodge
 4:00 – 4:30pm Climate Change And Tourism
Chan Beng Seng, Coordinator for the Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN)
* See below for more details about each clinic. 

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MAIN EVENT:

Responsible Tourism Forum & Networking, 31 October 2014 (Friday)

Venue: Conference Room Hibiscus, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall D1

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Time Details
11:00am – 1:00pm RESPONSIBLE TOURISM FORUM & NETWORKING & WILD ASIA’s RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AWARDS CEREMONY 
Join us for an inspiring forum session as we discuss four hot topics that surround responsible tourism. Speakers will push the envelope to discuss sustainable tourism market trends, provide tools and applications in achieving sustainability and share an incredible case study of sustainability in Gobi. The following are the four topics:

  • Cost Effective Ways To Achieving Sustainable Tourism Best Practices, Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters and Associates
  • Eco labels for hotel, why you should commit, what benefits you should expect, Nicolas Dubrocard, Associate Advisor, Wild Asia 
  • Sustainable Tourism Trends, Emerging Markets & New Media, Jens Thraenhart, Founder, Digital Innovation Asia 
  • Evolution of an Ecolodge: Lessons from the Gobi, Jalsa Urubshurow, Founder and CEO, Nomadic Expeditions and the Three Camel Lodge

Following the forum, winners of the notable Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards 2014 will be announced. Guests are invited to mingle and network after the event over some light refreshments.

* See below for more details on the forum topics. 

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countrysideHow To Make Community-Based Tourism Work: Multi-stakeholder Success Stories From Thailand 

Speaker: Dr Jutamas Jan Wisansing, Executive Director and Consultant, Perfect Link Consulting Group and Education Chair, Pacific Asia Tourism Associations (PATA) Thailand Chapter
30 October (Thursday), 10:00 – 10:30am @ the Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

Stories from 13 selected communities from 6 designated areas for sustainable tourism development will be shared. These communities have been on the systematic process to manage the resource vulnerabilities and risks of being too overly popular, together with multi-stakeholders co-create community tourism products to meet market demand based on an appreciation of community local wisdoms. The clinic’s discussion will be focused on how to ensure CBTs are sustained on a long term basis – what’s the secret behind thriving CBTs?

Beyond Unique Escapes (3)Developing Community Tourism Businesses as part of the Tour Operator Supply Chain

Speaker: Adrienne Lee, Program Manager (Asia & Africa), Planeterra
30 October (Thursday), 10:30 – 11:00am @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

This presentation is about incorporating sustainable practices that empower local communities into tour operator supply chains. The tour operator working directly with its foundation, is working directly with communities to empower under served women and youth to access market-driven approaches to create sustainable businesses. There is often a resource gap between non-profit organizations and blended-social purpose businesses that are attempting to benefit the communities in which they work. Without a strong market, these non-profits or community tourism projects often fold and fail. However, when partnered with a for-profit operator, tourism businesses have one of the greatest reaches and spread to provide opportunity for marginalized communities, and allow social enterprises to scale, access knowledge transfer, and develop their first revenue generating programs.

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001Revealing Of The Top 3 Winners of the Inspiring Stories Competition 2014

30 October (Thursday), 11:00am – 12:00pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

Come and be inspired by change setters in the tourism industry! The top 3 winners of this annual competition are operators with an amazing story to tell. They have been selected based on their exceptional efforts in preserving destinations and shaping local communities. This is your chance to glean from their experience & be inspired to make a difference! Read 2012 and 2013 winning Inspiring Stories.

DSC_0242Child Sex Tourism is a Risk for Asian Destinations and Companies

Speaker: Mike Nedelko, CRM & Marketing Manager, The Code
30 October (Thursday), 2:00 – 2:30pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

The Code would like to highlight the need for child protection as part of responsible and sustainable tourism and present it in the context of “crisis and risk management”. Even in Asian tourism sphere, the current initial thoughts of “crisis and risk management” may invoke precautions to prevent natural disasters that can impact tourism, such as tsunami and floods. However, there is also a real risk for a destination’s or a company’s brand and reputation when it comes to crimes of sexual exploitation of children or other crimes relating to children.

resefSustainable Practices – Small Ways That Lead to Big Improvements & Cost Saving 

Speaker: Ruben Cortes, Associate Director, Sustainable Building Initiative, Wild Asia 
30 October (Thursday), 2:30 – 3:00pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

Sustainability is important for all tourism businesses, rural and urban. There has never been a better time to act for the benefit of your business and the “bottom line”. In this clinic session, Ruben will speak about some basic systems and ways that businesses can adopt to reduce negative impacts on the environment, reduce utility bills and ultimately benefit the business on the long run. The presentation will focus on proven steps that businesses can take in order to reduce their environmental impact in an affordable and effective way.

myanmarBurma’s Reopening to the World: An Examination of Sustainable Tourism Development in the 21st Century

Speaker: Daniel PliskeSales and Marketing at Access China Tours
30 October (Thursday), 3:00 – 3:30pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

Now that Myanmar’s government has recently begun allowing travellers/tourists to freely enter the country, the formerly non-developed tourism industry is quickly becoming a major contributor to the nation’s economy. With these quickly increasing visitor numbers, tourism infrastructure development must focus on steady sustainability if it is to succeed as well as provide substantial benefits and opportunities for the country as a whole. The future of Myanmar’s tourism industry is dependent on sustainability practices and initiatives and therefore, must imitate its neighbor’s positive examples in order to preserve vast natural resources for future generations. Myanmar’s tourism development and future perceptions as an international tourist destination will have great implications for Southeast Asia as a whole, as they quickly become a key player in the regions tourism industry.

Spice villageCreating Competitive Advantage Through Responsible Tourism Practices

Speaker: Albert Teo, Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours & Sukau Rainforest Lodge 
30 October (Thursday), 3:30 – 4:00pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

In a highly competitive business environment, brands are required to push the envelope to create evergreen unique selling propositions (USP). Albert will present three case studies based on the award winning Borneo Eco Tours, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, and Borneo Ecotourism, Solutions and Technologies Society (BEST), a non-profit foundation. The strategies discussed are from lessons learnt after being in business for 23 years. They include triple bottom line concepts, specialized responsible tourism practices that improve operations synergy and leverage on business strengths. Albert will also discuss challenges faced and solutions applied when dealing with community projects.

Beach stormTourism And Climate Change 

Speaker: Chan Beng Seng, Coordinator for the Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) 
30 October (Thursday), 4:00 – 4:30pm @ the  Responsible Tourism Centre Booth, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall E, J65

With its close connections to the environment and climate itself, tourism is considered to be a vulnerable and highly climate-sensitive economic sector. Climate affects a wide range of environmental resources that are essential attraction factors for tourism. Climate change will make destinations less attractive and jeopardize major sources of income. There are direct impacts like altered seasonal patterns or coastal erosion, loss of beach area and higher costs to protect and maintain waterfronts. Also there are indirect impacts of climate change like water shortages. Higher costs for risk management for touristic infrastructure might change the demand side of tourism markets or the visitor numbers. Furthermore, the awareness of tourists towards climate change and other environmental issues is likely to be a major driver of their future holiday choices. Operators that do not adapt to this emerging ‘climate aware’ market risk losing market share to more responsive competitors. This clinic will discuss the important relation between climate change and tourism, and will try to show some alternatives and help to promote a responsible and sustainable tourism, which bring not only benefits for the tourism industry but also to the people whose livelihood depends on tourism.

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Responsible Tourism Forum & Networking 

31 October (Friday), 11:00am – 1:00pm @ Conference Room Hibiscus, Basement 2, Exhibition Hall D1

Join us for an inspiring forum session as we discuss four hot topics that surround responsible tourism. Speakers will push the envelope to discuss sustainable tourism market trends, provide tools and applications in achieving sustainability and share an incredible case study of sustainability in Gobi. The following are the four topics:


Evason Phuket

Cost Effective Ways To Achieving Sustainable Tourism Best Practices 

Speaker: Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters and Associates
It is easy to assume that only high tech solutions can be applied to achieve sustainability. This may be the case for economies that have very high labour costs and relatively cheap access to technology. In economies where labour costs are low and imported technology is very expensive there are alternative solutions to achieve sustainability and to provide memorable tourism experiences. This presentation will draw on case studies from across the globe and relate the findings that are relevant to the ASEAN region.

all inclusive holiday Eco Labels for Hotels: Why You Should Commit & What Benefits You Should Expect

Speaker: Nicolas Dubrocard, Associate Advisor, Wild Asia
Eco labels for hotels represent great challenges and lead to many questions, we will answer them during this presentation. We will highlight the advantages of a sustainable approach to face potential environmental crisis such as water shortage. We will discuss the guest new requirements in terms of environmental respect and the green market positioning. We will take into account the impact of competing for an eco label on the staff. We will browse the operating costs savings linked to a sound environmental management system. Finally we will introduce Wild Asia solutions to support your efforts to get an eco label.

next genSustainable Tourism Trends, Emerging Markets & New Media

Speaker: Jens Thraenhart, Founder, Digital Innovation Asia

In a dynamic, ever-changing, and robust sector, sustainable tourism pioneers and leaders need to be constantly adapting to the changing environment in their approach to do business better, thus continually leaving a positive impact. Understanding current market and technology is also important to responding to appropriate strategic approach. Sustainable tourism is emerging and businesses need to gear up for the next generation of informed travellers.

three-camel-lodge-02Evolution of an Ecolodge: Lessons from the Gobi

Speaker: Jalsa Urubshurow, Founder and CEO, Nomadic Expeditions and the Three Camel Lodge

What makes a lodge “eco”? While” reduce, reuse and recycle” are fundamental aspects of environmentally friendly operations, a true ecolodge goes beyond the green footprint to embrace direct support for cultural and natural heritage, while delivering meaningful social and economic benefits to local people. This presentation tells the story of how Mongolia’s pioneer Three Camel Lodge became recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s 25 best lodges by developing a successful business model based upon sustainable tourism best practices.

Awards

Following the forum, the Winners of the Wild Asia’s 2014 Responsible Tourism Award will be revealed. Esteemed winners will be announced, each representing a specific category; community engagement, cultural preservation and overall most inspiring responsible tourism operator. The Award winners are leaders in their destinations, making change that will help shape the future of travel for the better. This is your chance to meet the people behind Asia’s leading sustainable tourism organizations. Read more about this year’s Award Finalists.

** Note – All sessions and speakers are subject to change. All changes will be updated on this webpage.

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Event organised and supported ITB Asia, Wild Asia, The Blue Yonder and ITB Berlin”s Official Partner Country 2015 – Mongolia, Nomadic by Nature:

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Call For Inspiring Stories 2014

Do you want your responsible tourism story heard at Asia’s biggest business-to-business travel trade show?

Well, we want to hear from you! LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001

This year, Wild Asia together with Gaia Discovery is on a lookout for inspiring travel stories from within the industry. We are inviting exceptional tourism businesses and projects from across Asia to submit their inspiring story.

Have you empowered local people? Saved a rare wildlife species? Protected an area’s cultural heritage? Innovated ways to run a tourism business that is kinder to the environment? Have you through the power of tourism used it as a force for good? We want to hear your story.

Inspiring Stories from Destinations is an annual competition providing an international platform for tourism players to get their story heard at ITB Asia in Singapore. The competition seeks exciting stories from organisations and individuals who have found in themselves a passion to make a difference in the travel industry and leave a legacy for the next generation.

Check out winners from the 2012 and 2013 Inspiring Stories competition!

What we’re looking for?

The selection of successful stories is based on the authenticity of the story, creative and innovative elements and the power to inspire others towards making responsible tourism a reality. (Terms below)

What’s in it for you?

  • Top 3 Winners will receive complimentary tickets to ITB Asia’s Responsible Tourism Events and will be given 15 minutes each to share their story on the Responsible Tourism stage to an audience of like minded tourism professionals and potential customers.
  • Top 3 Winners will have their story published on the Wild Asia’s website and Gaia Discovery’s website.
  • Top 3 Winners will benefit from the reach of both Wild Asia and Gaia Discovery’s social media networks.

How to enter

Submit your stories in any of the following form:

  • In words; no more than 1,000 words
  • Video; no more than 5 minutes
  • Slideshow; no more than 15 slides

Email your entries to rt@wildasia.org by 14th September 2014 (Sunday). Please title your email “RT Stories for RT Event at ITB Asia 2014″ and include your Name, Email, Organization and Destination in your email. Successful applicants will be notified via email by 30th September, 2014. Winners will be invited to speak at ITB Asia (terms below).

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Inspiring Stories is part of the annual Responsible Tourism networking events that started in 2009. Organised and supported by ITB AsiaWild Asia and this year with the inclusion of Gaia Discovery, this annual event hopes to bring together sustainable tourism practitioners to share, engage, learn and be inspired to make a difference.

Terms & Conditions

  • Previous winners of Inspiring Stories (Top 3 or Top 10) cannot apply.
  • 2014 Finalists of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards cannot apply.
  • Past Winners of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards cannot apply.
  • Businesses or projects that have current engagements with Wild Asia and/or Gaia Discovery cannot apply.
  • Business or project must be based in Asia.
  • Free entry to ITB Asia for Top 3 Winners on the day of the Inspiring Stories event (TBC) only. Travel to and from Singapore or accommodation to attend the event is not included.
  • Stories are judged by a panel of responsible tourism experts and their decision is final.
  • Applicants acknowledge that the Top 3 Winners of Inspiring Stories 2014 will have their story and images published on Wild Asia and Gaia Discovery websites.

Inspiring Stories From Destinations is a competition jointly organized by ITB Asia, Wild Asia and Gaia Discovery.

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Call For Papers & Presentations For ITB Asia 2014 Responsible Tourism Events

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Call for papers and presentations. Take a role at ITB Asia’s Responsible Tourism Events, 29 – 31st October 2014 in Singapore.

 

This is your opportunity to take an active role and share your knowledge and experience at the Asia’s largest travel trade show. We are looking for sustainable tourism practitioners who are seeking to inspire others in making tourism a driver for change socially, environmentally and economically for Asian destinations.

We are seeking presentations and/or papers for the following topics below. The organizing committee is also open to explore other related topics, kindly contact deborah@wildasia.org if you have other ideas not in the list:

  1. Quality and profitable eco/green/sustainable tourism
  2. Marketing Responsible Tourism via New Media and other channels
  3. Indigenous & cultural tourism
  4. Crisis and risk management
  5. Grooming the next generation for sustainable tourism
  6. Wildlife and nature-based tourism
  7. Sustainable certification and accreditation schemes for operators
  8. Supply chain management for sustainable operators
  9. Mainstreaming Responsible Tourism
  10. Sustainable tourism trends and emerging markets
  11. Best practice case studies: Achievements & challenges

Submission guidelines:
Closing date for submissions 30 July, 2014 (Wednesday).

Paper/presentations must address the following:

  • Relevance to Asian-based tourism operators and helps promote the mainstreaming of responsible tourism in Asia
  • With case studies, please share lessons learnt and outcomes of the project/program

Please include the following in your paper / presentation:

  • Name and profile of author/presenter
  • The title should aim to be precise and concise so that it conveys a clear message
  • Abstracts should contain brief summary of the content areas of your proposed topic

Note to speakers:

  • All presenters must be able to cover their travel and accommodation costs
  • Speakers will be given a complimentary speaker pass that includes access to the trade show for the day of your presentation
  • Presenters will be notified if their paper/presentation has been accepted by 13 August 2014 (Wednesday)

Submission of Paper/Presentation:
Please email your paper or presentation, including an abstract to Deborah Chan at deborah@wildasia.org by 30 July, 2014 (Wednesday).

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Is Sustainable Tourism Achievable in Asia?

Ipoh Presentation_Deborah Chan_Responsible Tourism

“Is sustainable tourism achievable in Asia?” that was the question posed by Deborah Chan, Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Associate at a seminar organized and attended by HFT Luzern, a Swiss tourism university. A group of 80 students from the university spent three weeks in Malaysia touring the peninsular and attending weekly seminars at satellite cities in Malaysia as they explored issues pertaining to tourism in Asia. At the seminar, Deborah was delighted to encounter passionate and initiated budding industry players in the hospitality field who were eager to learn, probe for answers and think out-of-the-box for solutions that plague the mass tourism scene.

The seminar was graced with leading tourism players from the private and government sector such as Diethelm Travel, YTL Group, Tourism Perak, Tourism Malaysia and Wild Asia each sharing their perspective, insight and challenges of tourism in Malaysia. Deborah shared an insightful presentation of the current perception of responsible tourism in Asia and presented case studies from which the students can glean from.

Deborah Chan_Ipoh Presentation_Responsible Tourism (1)So, with all the talk about sustainability and tourism, the tough question asked was…

“Is sustainability just a growing fad or a nice marketing gimmick? And can Asian operators adopt best practices that will keep the industry thriving for many more years to come?”

While many operators have jumped on the bandwagon and waved the ‘Go Green!’ flag, there are movers and shakers in the industry who are undeterred when it comes to creating positive impact. Wild Asia has received over 190 applications from 14 Asian countries in the past 8 years for their annual Responsible Tourism Awards. These applications are incredibly thorough and are benchmarked against the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) initially developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

From these applications, Wild Asia have recognized and awarded 57 finalists and winners across Asia. Selected case studies were presented at the seminar in hope that their stories and examples would inspire young budding tourism professionals to create change from within the industry.

Deborah started the presentation with an unveiling of facts that acknowledged the tourism industry as a powerful driver in the global economy.

  • By 2020, a whopping 1.6 billion tourists will be making annual trips internationally (UNWTO);
  • In terms of gross economic power, tourism is in the same category as oil, energy, finance and agriculture;
  • At least one in ten people around the world is employed by the travel and hospitality industry;
  • Tourism creates $USD 3 billion in business every day!

As a result of this boom, tourism also produces a series of negative effects that are often side-lined, ignored or not talked about. These negative impacts include; environmental deterioration, loss of biodiversity, exploitation of local communities and corrosion of cultures and traditions.

However, not all is lost and tourism can be a force for change.

There are tourism players in Asia who have stepped up as a catalyst for change. For example, Lisu Lodge have gone over and beyond to engage and develop the local community in the hill tribes of northern Thailand through capacity building and employment, creation of sustainable secondary source of income and indigenous community led initiatives that are tourism related.

Soneva Resort, a luxury brand and innovator in sustainable tourism. Soneva supports clean water projects, an orphanage initiative and a hunger alleviation charity. They have helped implement a local ban on shark fishing, established a coral restoration project, and their innovative carbon calculator ensures they continuously strive for inspirational resource efficiency.

A Malaysian example that was quoted is Scuba Junkie, a dive operator based in beautiful Mabul Island off the east coast of Sabah. The company strives to be sensitive and have a positive effect on this unique area. Introducing the first rubbish collection scheme on the island, they are improving waste management and protecting their natural assets. They also run a Turtle Hatchery and are championing the Semporna Shark Sanctuary, in order to help save our seas.

Other case studies presented include Agri Tourism in India, El Nido Resorts in Philippines, Heritance Kandalama in Sri Lanka, Andaman Discoveries in Thailand and Nikoi Island in Indonesia.

Sustainability is not all about the operator, it’s about the traveler

Deborah Chan_Ipoh Presentation_Responsible Tourism (2)

“The main reason why I’m in hospitality is because I love to travel. I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t enjoy seeing the world,” says Fabian Wilhelm. Sustainable tourism therefore needs to connect with the traveler. While operators are thinking of new ways to benefit the local community, preserve the environment and sustain the economy, they (operators) also need to think of new ways to involve the traveler and create exciting experiences that are out-of-the-box.

One thing for sure, social networks are powerful marketing tools that allow multi-dimensional conversations. An empowered, educated and informed traveler can act as a catalyst to spread the word to other travelers and potentially shake the industry to create new order in mass tourism’s modus operandi. The traveler therefore needs to experience the destination and be simultaneously educated with good travel practices that leave positive impact before they can speak up about sustainable tourism.

In conclusion, sustainable tourism is achievable in Asia, however this movement requires multi-stakeholder effort and a persistent push for it to gain enough momentum that will one day set in motion an avalanche of positive impact. Wild Asia hopes that in the short presentation given, more destination thinkers and movers will be enlightened to create more mindful ways of travel.

The Rainforest Ecolodge: Supporting Biodiversity in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001In year 2000 The Competitiveness Initiative (TCI) was launched by USAID at the invitation of the Government to enhance the potential of the tourism profile of Sri Lanka. Stakeholders of the tourism industry were clustered in the form of The Tourism Cluster (TTC), to increase competitiveness and to bring them together to develop joint initiatives that explored diversification of the industry. As such, TTC strategized targeting the higher‐end segments of the tourism market, through ecotourism.

A multi‐sector working group including the TTC, leading academia ‐including the University of Peradeniya and Colombo and the Forest Department ‐ was formed, with the goal of developing a model for future ecotourism in Sri Lanka. Proceeding further, in 2002, a location in the Sinharaja Division of the Enselwatte Estate in Deniyaya owned by Mathurata Plantations Pvt. Ltd. was selected, and an Prof Kotagama of University of Colombo initial investment for development was put‐together by nine companies including five leading tourism companies in Sri Lanka. TCI provided the required ecotourism expertise through Megan Epler Wood – Founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), and technical support for the implementation of the project.

The responsibility of facilitating this programme was assigned to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, under the guidance of Prema Cooray, the then Secretary‐General (2003‐2008). Planning of The Rainforest Ecolodge began in February 2006 and was opened to the public in January 2012.

Sri Lanka rainforest-ecolodgeThe Rainforest Ecolodge is situated in the Sinharaja Division of the Enselwatte Estate in Deniyaya. This plot of previously cultivated tea land, borders the south‐eastern fringe of the Sinharaja forest reserve, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site inscribed in 1988. The Sinharaja is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a Biodiversity Hotspot as designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All these titles highlight the importance of the forest reserve, and hence the location of the ecolodge, in terms of its biodiversity as well as its fragility. As such, in selecting this location, the management of the ecolodge has recognized the importance of committing to the conservation of its surroundings and promoting the cause through its development and operations.

Biodiversity of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve

The vegetation that predominates the Sinharaja forest reserve, belongs to the tropical (lower montane) wet evergreen forest type. This is a unique type of forest which is very low in abundance in a global context, and is the only piece of pristine forest that Sri Lanka can claim ownership to.

Most of the plant species present in this forest is considered ‘Rare’ and over 60% of these species display endemicity, or in other words, is prevalent only in this particular locality. This unique vegetation type therefore also plays host to a unique collection of faunal species which consists of over 90% of Sri Lanka’s endemic bird species and over 50% of endemic butterflies, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Some Globally Threatened Species found at the Rainforest Ecolodge site:

  • Urocissa ornate – Common names: Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Kehi Bella
  • Prionailurus viverrinus – Common names: Fishing Cat, Handun Diviya, Koddy Pulli
  • Ratufa macroura – Common names: Giant Squirrel, Dandu Lena, Mali Anil
  • Loris Tardigradus – Common names: Red Slender Loris, Una Hapuluwa, Thevangu
  • Macaca sinica – Common names: Toque Monkey, Rilawa, Kurangu
  • Trachypithecus vetulus – Common names: Purple faced Leaf Monkey, Kalu Wandura, Mundi

Sri Lanka - Bird The part of the fringe forest with which The Rainforest Ecolodge comes into contact with, displays another unique feature in which it hosts flocks of birds – singular and mixed species –that seem to thrive in this particular zone where the tropical forest meets the monoculture tea plantation.

A Training Manual for Nature Interpreters has also been put‐together by The Rainforest Ecolodge for the benefit of the staff, guests and visitors. This is the first time such a publication has been developed by an Ecolodge in Sri Lanka to build capacity and increase awareness about the Ecolodge and the Sinharaja forest reserve.

Innovative multisector approach

This first major collaborated public‐private sector initiative was led by leading leisure corporates. The innovative funding mechanism that employed public private partnership also had its advantages and disadvantages but led the way to the application of global best practices which are now, visible learning tools of this model initiative.

Community development initiatives

The Rainforest Ecolodge’s extensive development initiatives which began with the USAID’s GDA‐supported SENCE program in 2005 are still active and ongoing as a part of the ecolodge’s routine operations. Under the SENCE program, 35 brand new residential units were constructed for members of the community who were requested to relocate when the area with their existing homesteads was selected for the construction of the ecolodge. In addition to these, buildings purposed for a crèche, a primary school and a healthcare center were also constructed for the benefit of the community members.

The SENCE program also supported the execution of a number of studies including scientific and socio‐economic surveys to gauge the relevant existing conditions and challenges for further development. Observations recorded during these surveys and stated recommendations were converted into actions through the implementation of numerous workshops, health clinics and practical sessions that involved almost 100 individuals from the surrounding community. Such workshops on various topics are still being facilitated by the ecolodge upon requests from the community.

The Rainforest Ecolodge also played a key role in ensuring the community’s access to energy and potable water resources as well as public transportation and road infrastructure. Human resources required at the ecolodge during construction, and now during operations have been recruited from