India’s first ever reversal of a local extinction

&Beyond’s pioneering Gaur translocation project in Bandhavgarh National Park

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001&Beyond’s pioneering model of low-impact, high-yield wildlife tourism is based on our ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. Tried and tested for more than twenty years, we believe in sharing the skills we have gained through the implementation of this model to benefit the preservation of wildlife not only in Africa but further afield. Our passion to ensure that we protect the great wildlife areas of the world, leaving a legacy for the next generation, has driven us to partner with conservation authorities in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to carry out a ground-breaking translocation. Aimed at reversing the local extinction of the gaur in Bandhavgarh National Park, an additional goal of this public-private partnership was to carry out training and create the capability for Indian wildlife officials to complete subsequent relocations of other species on their own.

andBeyond_Gaur Translocation image 2v2For years, Indian conservation policy had focussed solely on the preservation of protected areas, with limited wildlife management. Indian forestry officials were aware that gaur had gone extinct in Bandhavgarh National Park, but were not sure how to reverse this extinction. While working with Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) on establishing our circuit of four jungle lodges in India, &Beyond became aware of this situation. We immediately saw this as an opportunity not only to help restore a species to its natural habitat but to share our knowledge of translocation techniques and develop this capacity in the MPFD.

As a pioneer in responsible sustainable travel, &Beyond’s model of restoring and conserving regional biodiversity has often required animal translocations and re-introductions. As a result, the company has considerable experience in this area and Group Conservation Manager Les Carlisle has planned and implemented the translocation of more than 40,000 heads of wildlife in several African countries.

With &Beyond providing the expertise for the project, the initiative required five years of meticulous collaboration and planning with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, which oversees some of India’s largest tracts of protected land, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which is responsible for the research that is used to help identify priorities and formulate guidelines for wildlife conservation in the country.

In the words of Dr HS Pabla, then the Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh, “Other than retrieving the lost biodiversity of Bandhavgarh, the project was aimed at building the capacity of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the Wildlife Institute of India in the field of the capture and translocation of large animals. It was also meant to show what public-private partnerships could accomplish. Mridula Tangirala, Director of Operations at Taj Safari Lodges, and Les Carlisle, Group Conservation manager at &Beyond, worked tirelessly to obtain the approvals of their companies expeditiously. Les made several trips to India just to ensure that the construction of bomas and modification of trucks was exactly as required.”

The transfer of skills was a vital part of the project. Recognising the need to share Africa’s unique conservation skills, Indian conservation officials were invited to &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve to learn the techniques of darting and loading buffalo. During the planning phase, some of the best buffalo specialists in the world focused on teaching and re-creating their skills base in India. KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife staff took the Indian officials to inspect holding bomas and they were also given the opportunity to take part in animal capture exercises at Hluhluwe Game Reserve. The designs for animal capture trucks and stretchers were shared with the Indian team, who arranged for them to be adapted and re-created by an Indian company so that all the required equipment could be manufactured on the spot.

With the initial phase complete, the &Beyond team travelled to India to begin full scale training with the MPFD and WII teams. This stage included a few vital adaptations to the Indian national parks infrastructure. Reserves in India are not fenced, however Les Carlisle argued strongly for the need to build reinforced reintroduction bomas to contain and protect the gaur after translocation. As a result, a holding boma was constructed for the animals at Bandhavgarh National Park, where they were to be released. This would allow the gaur to become habituated to their new home and would keep tigers out of the newly reintroduced population until the animals had settled in.

The next phase of the project included &Beyond’s experts working with Indian officials to obtain the correct permits to import the drugs required and to translocate the animals. It took nearly a year to get the import permits into place and have the drugs sent to India. With a narrow window during the Indian winter when it is cool enough to subject animals to the stresses of the move, the translocation was planned for January 2011.

The total operation team consisted of more than thirty field rangers and another thirty senior officers. The field staff made up two stretcher teams of twelve to fifteen men. Ten days before the operation was due to begin, Les Carlisle began to practice each move of the procedure with the Indian teams. This training was crucial as it ensured that, once the operation began, every member of the team understood exactly what they were to do.

andBeyond_Les Carlisle_Gaur Translocation image 1v2As the operation moved into full swing, it became obvious that the training had paid off. As animal after animal was tracked, darted and then loaded in the translocation trucks, the longest it took for this process to be completed for one animal was 38 minutes. With recovery time after giving the antidote to the drug between one and five minutes, no animal took longer than 50 minutes from the time it was darted to until it was awake and standing in the holding boma, a time really difficult to achieve within the norms of animal translocation.

With the Indian teams rapidly becoming more experienced at what they were doing, after the first 14 animals &Beyond’s experts stood back, allowing them to dart and translocate the last five gaur on their own. Everything proceeded as planned and the relocation was a huge success, with 19 gaur safely darted and transported during the first test phase. A breakthrough achievement in Indian conservation, this translocation was followed by the subsequent movement of another 31 gaur in January 2012, this time carried out mainly by Indian wildlife authorities. This brought the total number of gaur moved to the recommended number of 50.

With the success of reversing a local extinction measured by how well the new population does in its environment, the gaur herd in Bandhavgarh has grown steadily over the years. Despite tiger-inflicted mortalities, the herd is thriving in its new home, with the recent birth of the 19th calf since the reintroduction.

The first partnership between a wildlife tourism operator and the Forestry Department in India, the translocation has cleared the way for the implementation of other conservation initiatives in Madhya Pradesh state and in all of India.

“Encouraged by the success of this project, the state has already proposed the translocation of several other species to reverse local extinctions in Madhya Pradesh. The barasingha is set to return to Bori Sanctuary and the blackbuck is going to return to Kanha. We can even dream of creating whole new wildlife assemblages from scratch if secure space is available, through the translocation of prey and predators from other sources, rather than waiting for ages to let it happen on its own. Let us hope that this project will prove to be a harbinger of change in our approach to conservation, which it was always meant to be. Perhaps we will no longer just wring our hands when the extinction of a particular species looms in front of us. We can now prevent or reverse such local extinctions, thanks to the Gaur Project,” sums up Dr Pabla.

 

Joining forces to save Kalawa Forest

Three friends from Kalimantan Tour Destinations share their journey towards their dream of ecotourism in Central Kalimantan’s rainforest…

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001It was the beginning of 2008 and we were at last open for business!  The three of us shared a dream to develop and promote ecotourism to protect the important areas of rainforest in Central Kalimantan whilst improving the livelihoods of local communities. Our vision was a simple one, to enable our guests to experience the natural environment and the Dayak communities in a eco-friendly way.

Developing our vision took patience and perseverance; we developed a business plan that was chosen In September 2006 as a winner in the Business in Development Challenge sponsored by the Netherlands government.  This provided KTD with €6,000 prize money, important advice from a number of entrepreneurs, a network of contacts and a business plan that was able to attract additional investment from our own private funds.

Rehabilitation of a boat began in 2006 with a team of local boat builders, the demands of creating a boat with comfortable cabins, electricity, flushing toilets and flowing water proved to be too challenging. We suspended work on the boat and searched for a qualified boat designer and architect. By the end of 2006 we had found a British boat builder who was teaching boat building at the Surabaya Technical University and a local carpenter, who was contracted to complete the redesign.

pitcher plantIn 2007, we chose the occasion of Central Kalimantan’s 50-year anniversary celebrations to name our boat and the Rahai’i Pangun was formally named in a Dayak Kaharingan ceremony. We wanted our boat to have a Dayak name that would resonate with local people so we approached Bapak Lewis, an elder of the Dayak Kaharingan religion for advice, who proposed the name ‘Rahai’i Pangun’. Rahai’i Pangun literally translates into English as ‘big development’ and was the name of the boat of a former prince (bandar) who sailed to China and other countries bringing many great treasures to Kalimantan from his travels. Bapak Lewis hoped that the new Rahai’i Pangun would also bring prosperity to the villages she visits.

Final work on the boat was completed and the Rahai’i Pangun was moved from Kereng Bangkirai on the Sebangau River, where she was remodelled and constructed, travelling out to sea and back up the Kahayan River for a final fit out ready to start operating.

In February 2008 the Rahai’i Pangun was launched by the Governor of Central Kalimantan, Bpk. A.Teras Narang, and embarked on her first overnight maiden voyage.

We worked with the community to establish self-managed community entrepreneur groups to work with providing host services to visitors.  This helped to create alternative incomes and support the life and growth of the local culture. We also worked closely with our local stakeholders to share our learning (government, private sector, NGOs and communities) to promote ecotourism as a way of protecting the environment and creating alternative livelihoods.

Our eco-tourism business was taking off and we were invited to share our experiences, our capacity building approach to build boats paid off as we renovated our second boat the Spirit of Kalimantan and built another boat the Ruhui Rahayu, and two more boats were built by the government by the boat builder we had trained, in two different districts.

Kalwa Forest

G0030298This Forest known as Kalawa has an area of about 7,025 hectares and is under serious threat from oil palm interests and seasonal fires. Within the villages that have rights to the forest, the communities are split into different interest groups. Some want to log it before it is lost to forest fires. A palm oil company trying to gain rights to the land surrounding the forest is creating a further threat of encroachment. Some welcomed the oil palm and others were firmly against it.

We partnered up with local NGO YCI Yayasan Cakrawala Indonesia and a local adventure company Jurang Batu to work together with the villagers in developing a plan. An initial survey was carried out with the villagers to survey the forest, the team came across orangutan nests, evidence of the honey bear and interesting bird life but the forest was already under severe threat with many trees marked for felling.

The villages had plenty to interest the traveller, a long house and sandungs or bone houses used as a part of an elaborate ritual for the dead to be released to travel to the next world. The earliest missionaries came into Kalimantan and the twin graves of a husband and wife demonstrated how in those early days the missionaries risked losing their heads.

Buntoi chosen as a REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Avoiding Deforestation and Devastation) demonstration village will shortly celebrate the opening of The Climate Communication Centre for  information and learning on environmental conservation and enhancement.

IMG_0303v2We facilitated a 3 day workshop to raise the awareness of the participants about the potential of managing their forest in a sustainable way and the consequences of the loss of the forest to their way of life.  The workshop had been a great success with the different factions united under a shared vision  to become an example of conservation and sustainability and to attract outsiders to share learning in the continuing challenge of climate change by regaining their  cultural wisdom that once kept the balance between the need to sustain their lives and the forest life.

In September the villagers will have their first guests, a group of six from Switzerland providing them with a real experience to try out their planned itineraries. This is a first step on a long road and we aim to keep building on this enthusiasm by continuing to work with them on implementing their plans and attracting tourists to be part of their challenge in saving a small bit of forest that means so much for these 4 villages.

Presentations From Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2013

On behalf of ITB Asia and the other co-organizers, Wild Asia would like to thank you for participating in the Responsible Tourism Clinics and Forum at ITB Asia 2013. We would also like to thank all our speakers who graciously spared their time to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with us. The outcome was overwhelming and we hope that 2013 will be bigger and better. Please contact rt@wildasia.org if you wish to be part of 2013′s Responsible Tourism events.

Below you will find the full set of presentations throughout the 3-day event. Click on the links below to view the presentations. Let’s continue to “Learn, Be Inspired and Make a Difference!”

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Voluntourism – Are The Extra Hands Helping? by Martin Stevenson & Amy McLoughlin

Voluntourism is a growing travel sector and with it comes the pros and cons of volunteering abroad. For the volunteer, it can be a travel and learning experience, a new way of seeing the world while giving back, but for the local communities it may be disruptive, intrusive to local cultures and traditions or its benefits short lived. How effective and sustainable are voluntourism programs?

Martin Stevenson – Voluntourism Through The Eyes of A Backpacker 

Amy McLoughlin – The PEPY Story 

Impact Of Sustainability Initiatives On Customer Choice by Kumud Sengupta

What impact do sustainable business practices by travel companies have on travellers’ choice of a travel service provider (hotel, resort, tour operator etc.)? A survey was commissioned by Market Vision in mid-2013, aimed to determine the extent to which demonstration and promotion of sustainability initiatives by travel companies can impact customer choice behaviour. The results suggest that, all else being equal, a certain proportion of travellers would be inclined to patronize a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible while a larger proportion would be inclined to go with a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible and are endorsed by a credible third party assessor. A smaller proportion of travellers would not care. What should eco-tourism businesses do to attract such customers and influence their choice?

Be a Hero: Child Protection in Responsible Tourism by Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon

The sexual exploitation of children should not be a part of the tourism reality, but it is. Although tourism is not the cause of this crime, offenders utilize the services and infrastructure of the tourism industry to carry out the crime. Thus, the tourism industry has a responsibility towards combating the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. The Code is a tool that allows your company to implement child protection for responsible tourism.

Poverty Alleviation Through Sustainable Tourism Development: An Idea Or Reality? by Chananya Phataraprasit, Djinaldi Gosana and Hannah Won

A debate has arisen over the actual effects the tourism industry has within developing countries, and to what extent it helps the poor. The concept of tourism as a means of poverty alleviation has been around for nearly a decade, but there is a continuing debate over its effectiveness. Is tourism actually helping to give families and communities a better life or are here leakages that we do not see? Hear from various credible sources including the people on the ground and decide for yourself.

Bali CoBTA

Lisu Lodge 

Hannah Won – Orphanage Tourism 

Story Telling – How To Communicate Responsible Tourism (Without Sounding Boring!) by Adrianna Tan,  Jeremy Torr and Robin Boustead

Responsible Tourism as tool for branding and marketing is slowly dulling in the background with too many cases of greenwashing and/or boring technical achievements in sustainable practices. It’s time to sharpen your marketing edge and liven up the way you tell your story without compromising on credibility and the great business practices you have adopted. Find out how others have told their story and what travellers are really looking for.

Telling Travel Stories 3.0 by Adrianna Tan, Popaghandi.com

Sustainable Tourism: We All Need To Talk About it by Jeremy Torr, Storylocker

Great Himalaya Trail: A Case Study by Robin Boustead

The Dusun – from family retreat to nature resort

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001It began as a simple retreat from the city for a family. In 1984, Helen put an ad in the Malay Mail to purchase a rural lot. Walking through a rubber smallholding in Negeri Sembilan, she looked out to the Mantin hills and fell in love…

All the rubber trees were removed and durian seedlings were planted by Helen, David and their five children. Lovingly developed over the years, the family always referred to their home as the Dusun, or the Orchard. When it became apparent that others love the Dusun as much as they did, Helen and David decided to turn it into a nature resort in 2009.

So being environmentally friendly and socially fair was never a business decision, it has always been the way in which they nurture our land and environment. It has always been the way we treat our neighbours and friends.

IMG_0238The Dusun honours sustainable development in farming and building, which has created a beautiful and healthy environment. Starting with two houses, the Dusun expanded one house at a time to only five houses. Each house is unique, studying the use of different locally found materials and building techniques. All houses are placed to catch the winds that come down the valley and up the little hill. Ventilation and placement of doors, windows, carvings and fans ensure comfort without the use of air-conditioning.

Committed to supporting the local community, the family has maintained a good relationship with their neighbours. The business only hires from nearby kampungs, and are careful about staff hours and pay fair wages that increase with increasing skill, responsibility or time with us. Employees can benefit from support with official matters like banking and EPF etc. There are also interest free loans available for motorbikes and computers.

Our staff are like our family – we trust them, respect them and do what we can to build their confidence.

IMG_0454Despite a small team, purchases impact the community too. As much as possible purchases are made in the local kampong; most of the food shopping is from the wet market and cleaning detergents are from other responsible businesses.

Activities are designed to raise awareness of Malaysia’s beautiful natural heritage and support local traditions, communities and NGOs. The jungle is guided by a neighbor who has been a hunter gatherer all his life, and all proceeds are kept by the guide. Guests can also enjoy a Bird Discovery Walk, whose proceeds go to Bird Conservation Council at Malaysian Nature Society. on the Dusun is surprising to some, but it is designed for those who enjoy fresh air, lush greenery, jungle views, lingering meals with loved ones, peaceful strolls and the wonderfully uncoordinated orchestra of the birds, crickets and frogs.

Responsible Tourism Event Speakers at ITB Asia 2013

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…

Speakers for the Responsible Tourism Clinics & Forum

Chananya PhataraprasitChananya Phataraprasit

Chananya has deep roots in Thailand’s travel and tourism industry. Her father, Peter Larsen, started one of Thailand’s leading inbound tour operator, East West Siam. Growing up with tourism in her blood it was clear from the very beginning that Chananya would find her groove in travel, and that she would derive joy from staying true to her Thai roots. In 1995, she built a small lodge in the remote hill tribe village of Lisu in northern Thailand. She wanted a place where visitors could learn about local culture directly from their hosts, the Lisu villagers.  Continuing with her journey, she set up Asian Oasis in 2006 with the aim of creating unique travel offerings for a growing segment of travellers looking beyond Thailand’s beaches, temples and cities for more meaningful and authentic experiences. Chananya is driven by a passion to sustain, protect and improve local culture and the environment through economic growth, education and employment opportunities.

Martin StevensonMartin Stevenson

Originally from Cambridge, England, Martin Stevenson is a journalist, freelance travel writer, and founder and editor-in-chief of sustainable travel website More Than Footprints. Following a war of attrition between several gap-years spent travelling in Asia and his degree in South Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Martin worked in financial public relations in London and taught MBA courses at ESSEC business school in Paris. He has spent the last three years in Southeast Asia researching and writing ‘More than footprints? – How backpacking lost its way’. He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur.

Kumud Sengupta Kumud Sengupta

Kumud is the co-founder & director of Market Vision, a research and consultancy services firm based in Dubai. She undertakes research and consulting projects on behalf of the UNWTO, European Travel Commission, and various national tourism boards. An economics graduate with an MBA degree, Kumud is a certified assessor and consultant for Sustainable Tourism, and is also the Managing Editor of Spotlight on Sustainable Tourism (SOST), an e-journal with a mission to promote sustainable business practices among tourism stakeholders.

Tushar KhandelwalTushar Khandelwal

Tushar is an Indian-born tech/startup/travel geek and entrepreneur from Japan. He is currently the Head of Marketing & Community at Voyagin, a marketplace to help travelers discover & book unique experiences in Asia. After graduating from Columbia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, Tushar started his career working for Social Bicycles & Producteev before moving back to Asia & joining Voyagin.

Amy McLoughlinAmy McLoughlin

Amy has worked in a variety of responsible tourism positions in the UK, India, Malaysia and Cambodia. Her efforts have been recognized internationally by responsibletravel.com’s Responsible Tourism Awards and WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Her specialty areas in the field include protected area management, sustainable transport, community development and voluntourism. She is currently the Communications Manager for PEPY in Cambodia, an international development organization providing education and youth empowerment programs to rural students. Amy is also the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Coordinator, identifying leaders in sustainability across Southern Asia, which is celebrated each year at ITB Asia.

Adrianna Tan Adrianna Tan

Adrianna Tan has been writing on the Internet since 2003. Her blog, Popagandhi.com, features some experiments in travel and in travel writing, alongside other interests such as history and tech. She is one of the authors of WIRED’s Where Next travel section, and has contributed to the likes of Geographical, Asian Geographic, Elle, MINT, Straits Times and other magazines and newspapers.

Djinaldi GosanaDjinaldi Gosana

Djinaldi Gosana began his career in Hospitality industry at Caravelle Hotel Frankfurt, Germany in 1974 prior studying at Steigenberger Hotel School in Bad Reichenhall, Germany in 1975. Graduated his Hotel- and Tourism Management College in Dortmund, Germany in 1981 and he is the Founder & Chairman of Bali Community Based Tourism Association (Bali CoBTA). He is also the Executive Director of Bali Hotels Association. Prior to Bali CoBTA, he was the GM & Executive Committee member of 5-star hotels such as The Patra Bali Resort & Villas, Kamandalu Resort & Spa in Ubud-Bali, The Four Seasons Resort Bali, Bali Dynasty Shangri-La Resort, The Regent and The Mandarin Oriental – Jakarta. Mr. Djinaldi aalso serves as the Director of Partnership & Business Development services for the Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board. He has a great passion to help communities develop proper hospitality management skills. His dedication and efforts to minimize poverty, to improve the community welfare and preserve local culture are well appreciated and successfully supported by the stakeholders in Bali and Indonesia.

Jeremy Torr PeakJeremy Torr

Jeremy Torr is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and had visited some 47 countries at last count. He has lived and worked in the UK, Australia and Singapore and has written for the BBC, The Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore’s Today – as well as editing Discovery Channel Magazine, Ticket Magazine and SilverKris inflight. He owns a Swiss Army knife.

Hannah WonHannah Won

Originally from the United States, Hannah is now based in Cambodia where she has been working with children since 1998.  She holds a Master of Science in Education with a specialization in early childhood and is particularly interested in highlighting the damaging effects of orphanages from a child development perspective.  She has been an advocate for bringing awareness of this issue into the tourism and volunteer industries, as well as to donors funding orphanages from abroad.  Most recently, Hannah presented a case study in implementing new government laws for the alternative care of children to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Provincial Orphans and Vulnerable Children Task Force.  Hannah is currently working as a program advisor with an organization that focuses on keeping children out of orphanages and supporting families to care for their own children.

Robin BousteadRobin Boustead

Robin Boustead is the originator of the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT): both as a contiguous pure mountain route and as a product. Over the last two decades he has taken the GHT from concept to the fully fledged brand and development vehicle we see today. Working both strategically, negotiating with governments and other major stakeholders to establish the Trail, and also operationally, creating maps, guide books, seeding a vibrant online community of GHT-ers, enabling adventure travel operators globally to successfully market GHT products. Robin brings strong commercial sense along with an in-depth experience of South Asia to the GHT. He is a serial entrepreneur with thriving businesses in South Asia and Europe. He is driven by a passion for the mountains, their communities and culture.

Patchareeboon SakulpitakphonPatchareeboon Sakulpitakphon

Ms. Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon, or Mam, is Project Manager of The Code working to engage tourism private sector and prioritizing awareness about child protection as part of responsible tourism and CSR. Prior to this current position, she worked with ECPAT International on the global ‘Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People’ campaign with The Body Shop International over a period of three years in over 40 countries, resulting several significant achievements: presented 7 million+ petitions to the United Nations, generated over US$3 million dollars and at least 16 countries adopted legislation changes. With a background in International Justice and Norms and Human Rights, she continues to expand her knowledge on strategies for integrating children’s rights within the private sector.

Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2013

Responsible Tourism Forum & Clinics

October 23 – 25, Suntec City Convention Center, Singapore

ITB Asia offers every year a great stage for a range of events relevant to tourism professionals who consider essential to be updated with the most recent changes and trends in the industry. In this context, Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism team is present every year promoting Responsible Tourism practices through its unique  efforts across the continent. Do drop by the Responsible Tourism Centre at Booth E75, Hall 402 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

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Date Time Venue Topic & Speaker(s)
23 October (Wednesday) 2:00 – 3:00pm ITB Asia Clinics Area Food Experiences In Travel
23 October (Wednesday) 3:30 – 4:30pm ITB Asia Clinics Area Voluntourism – Are The Extra Hands Helping?
Martin Stevenson & Amy McLoughlin
24 October (Thursday) 10:00 – 11:00am ITB Asia Clinics Area Impact Of Sustainability Initiatives On Customer Choice
Kumud Sengupta
24 October (Thursday) 11:30am – 12:30pm ITB Asia Clinics Area Experiential Travel – Tapping Into The Secrets Of Creating Holidays That Stick!
Tushar Khandelwal
24 October (Thursday) 1:30 – 2:00pm Responsible Tourism Centre. Hall 402 – Booth E75 Be a Hero: Child Protection in Responsible Tourism
Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon
24 October (Thursday) 2:30 – 3:30pm Responsible Tourism Centre. Hall 402 – Booth E75 Revealing Of The Top 3 Winners of the Inspiring Stories Competition
25 October (Friday) 11:00am – 1:00pm ITB Asia Clinics Area Responsible Tourism Forum & Wild Asia’s 2013 Responsible Tourism Award ceremony.
Forum will feature 2 exciting topics by a panel of experienced & knowledgeable speakers. Stick around to find out the winners for the Responsible Tourism Awards. See below for more information.

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Read More

Call for Inspiring Stories 2013

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

Every year, we invite inspirational 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? All through the power of using tourism as a force for good? Get in touch.

Inspiring Stories from Destinations is an annual competition providing an international platform for tourism players to get their story heard at ITB Asia. We seek 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 our 2011 and 2012 Inspiring Stories.

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 and 5 minutes each to share their story on the Responsible Tourism stage to an audience of likeminded tourism professionals and potential customers
  • Top 10 Winners will have their story published on the Wild Asia website
  • Top 10 Winners will benefit from international PR via our array of travel media partners

How to enter

Submit your stories in any of the following form:

  • In words; no more than 1,500 words
  • Video; no more than 5 minutes
  • Slideshow; no more than 20 slides
  • Podcast; no more than 5 minutes

Email your entries to rt@wildasia.org by 30th August, 2013 (Friday). Please title your email “RT Stories for RT Event at ITB Asia 2013″ and include your Name, Email, Organization and Destination in your email. Successful applicants will be notified via email by 13th September, 2013.

Mulberry Learning CentreKecapiPlayersBeyond Unique Escapes (3)factory man

 

 

 

 

Inspiring Stories is part of the annual Responsible Tourism networking events that started in 2009. Organised and supported by ITB Asia, Wild AsiaThe Blue Yonder Associates and The Green Circuit, 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
  • 2013 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 are part of The Blue Yonder Associates or The Green Circuit 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 10 Winners of Inspiring Stories 2013 will have their story, images, (presentation of Top 3) published on the Wild Asia website

ViaVia Tours, Indonesia – Most Inspiring Tour Operator

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates ViaVia Tours for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes the tour operator that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring responsible tourism business of the year.

ViaVia tours are as varied as Jogjakarta is populated and they all offer something unique. Adventure, gastronomy and culture. ViaVia in Jogja offers art space to young local artists and is also often the venue of concerts, Friday night Jazz, performance art, film festivals and debates. Parts of the ViaVia profits go to support educational, social and cultural projects in and around Jogjakarta.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Excellent community development, resource efficiency for such a small project.
  • Internal and external impact assessment.
  • Strong in the “influence and inspire” area.
  •  Supporting local artists.
  • Inspirational commitment to supporting marginalised groups (e.g. HIV).
  • Plan to improve energy efficiency.
  • An active company achieving good results and customer numbers.

Inspiring Management

  • Guest information on sustainable tourism: website, peronsal communication, guided walks, welcome briefing, brochures, books.
  • Internal and external environmental and social impact assessments.
  • Staff dedicated to following Indonesian law.
  • New guides go through a weeklong training, specialising in cross cultural communication.
  • All staff have job descriptions where their roles are outlined, with performance appraisals identify capacity building needs.
  • Some staff have participated in Sustainable Tourism training with international specialist. All core guides received a Training of Trainers by specialist.
  • The Manager has her Graduate and Post Graduate Degrees in funded by ViaVia.
  • Gives preference to smaller accommodation suppliers, each is visited and partnership built on shared RT principles.
  • Participated in local and national panel discussions on sustainable tourism.
  • Work with partners, provide partners opportunity to visit, join trainings and tours to learn.
  • Provide informal consultancy to local travel agencies who are interested in “copying” concepts.
  • Host free annual training (approx. 20 people) on cross cultural communication and guiding skills; workshops on social enterprises for students.
  • Facilitated training on sustainable tourism for tourism students of several universities in Jogjakarta (UNY, UPN, and others).
  • 2008 external sustainability assessment (Exchange Belgium) and regular interns assess.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Guides develop personal relationships with villages and seek feedback. Annual meeting to discuss plans and feedback.
  • Organise street festival to engage neighbourhood and other businesses.
  • Work with ILO and other organizations to provide trainings to local communities on tourism, e.g. establishing homestays.
  • Provide humanitarian assistance e.g. emergency relief after 2006 Jogjakarta Earthquake and 2010 Mt. Merapi Erruption; fundraising after the 2006 Nias Earthquake; Awareness raising and fund raising during World Refugee Day in 2004.
  • Constructed 26 houses after 2006 Earthquake.
  • Waste management and environmental training to schools in villages they work with.
  • Supported a community library in Sukamade Village which they visit on Overland tour.
  • Financially and non financially supported the Jogjakarta Mural Project Sama-Sama You Are Welcome in 2003.
  • Provide venue spaces for charitable events.
  • Fund the university education of 5 women (4 staff, 1 non-staff).
  • Funded a life saving surgical operation in Belgium for one of staff.
  • Fair Trade Shop, which provides opportunities for economically disadvantaged people, (e.g. street children, HIV sufferers).
  • Provides regular safe venue for meetings of Narcotics Anonymous, and other marginal groups.
  • 100% local staff and 100% local management.
  • Many staff have progressed from low skilled jobs to management within the business.
  • Staff paid living wage, health insurance, maternity leave, holidays.
  • Has a restaurant, which also uses as much local and organic ingredients by small local producers as possible. No-MSG, No-Palm Oil.
  • In tours visit home industries, guests to buy locally.
  • Child sexual exploitation policy signed by all staff and made available to guests.
  • Promote women in the work place and equality, but some challenges due to culture.

Cultural Preservation

  • Customers told about acceptable dress in brochure and pre-tour briefing.
  • Supports one of the last surviving Javanese ‘Ketoprak’ Theatre Groups.
  • After the 2010 Mt. Merapi Eruption held public meeting with fundraising about the damage caused by the ash, and the future risks to local temple complexes, with key note speaker (British archaeologist Tony Tack).
  • Contribute tourist fees to heritage sites.
  • Promote maintaining local access to heritage sites (e.g. Borobudur).
  • Provide opportunity for young local artists every few weeks to decorate Via Via or exhibit and they take a lower than average commission (30%).
  • Offer Bahasa language courses and Batik courses.

Resource Efficiency

  • Promote sustainably sourced products.
  • No plastic bag policy, refillable water bottles,
  • Furniture made from recycled materials e.g. old boat.
  • In the office use LED lighting, taps checked for leaks.
  • Trees 4 Tours carbon offset scheme.
  • Local school take old paper for recycling.
  • Composting.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Maximise public transport on tours.
  • Trees 4 Tours™ concept supports local farmers with tree planting per tour in a vehicle.
  • Staff trained on species and library provided.
  • Contribute tourist fees to protected areas for e.g. turtle conservation.
  • Discuss environmental and conservation issues on tours.
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Papua Expeditions, Indonesia – Most Inspiring Tour Operator

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Papua Expeditions for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes the tour operator that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring responsible tourism business of the year.

Papua Expeditions offers keened-out, professionally guided birding, general wildlife, hiking and trekking expeditions in New Guinea’s Wild West. Permanently based in West Papua, their ecotourism programme focuses exclusively on the little-known western half of New Guinea under Indonesian administration.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Excellent policy in regards to attracting local people, not sending guests to ceremonies, all round excellent responsible business model.
  • A good example of responsible tourism business in a destination that face various external challenges in terms of business conditions.
  • An inspiring model demonstrating that responsible business ethics and sustainability practices are important no matter what.
  • “Learning while doing” training approach to support local capacity building.
  • 100% local staff.
  • Strong stance against exploitation of children.
  • Focus on growing regional client base as a concrete example of positive and business-focused climate action.
  • Within a remarkable and largely undiscovered destination, provides inspiring management, contributes to community engagement and development, cultural preservation and the protection of natural areas and wildlife conservation.

Inspiring Management

  • Provide information on web, pre-tour guide, and through interaction on tours on sustainable tourism approaches.
  • Internal environmental and social impact assessments.
  • Operates in a corrupt and poor region and maintains policy on clean governance, following ‘legal mass’ to adopt most appropriate solution under conflicting circumstances.
  • Trains staff ‘learning while doing’.
  • Consults tribal leaders about fluid land ownership laws to ensure their accommodation suppliers are compliant.
  • Published article on practice in eco tourism publications to inspire others.
  • 2010 Highly Commended Wild Asia RT Awards.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Provide ‘respectful usage’ fee to local communities for conservation.
  • Prevent ‘pay and go’ attitude and have long term MOU agreement with host communities to make benefits more long lasting.
  • Established Cenderawasih Fund for Community Development, 10% net profit donated. Funds small scale initiatives e.g. health care, social conflict resolution, relief, education.
  • 100% local workforce, 100% local management.
  • Yearly staff review and identify training needs.
  • Purchase local organic fresh produce and adhere to local market fares, to prevent tourist inflation which results in local people out-competed.
  • Support like-minded businesses wherever possible.
  • Encourage guests to buy local services not included in activities e.g. handicrafts.
  • Employ up to 80 different day-workers per month, all of whom are entitled to ancestral land-rights and/or reside at the destinations within portfolio, all receive the same basic training through ‘learning while doing’.
  • Facilitate ‘inter-cultural exchanges’ of motivated day-workers between destinations, it provides networking and possibilities for learning from culturally different Papuans. Proved beneficial toward character- and leadership-building.
  • Carefully selected city hotels with policies against sexual exploitation of children.
  • Do what they can to promote women’s rights and equality but can prove challenging given cultural context.
  • Staff exceed provincial minimum wage.
  • Tours are delivered by indigenous people so able to communicate after each tour feedback; bi-annual meets with land-owners and village elders.

Cultural Preservation

  • Do not engage guests with ceremonies as have strong reservations whether it adds value to local people. Rather they promote experiencing day-to-day life instead.
  • Always respects any prohibitions on visitation imposed by indigenous communities and closely follow their instructions where visitation is permitted.
  • Local language is provided in briefing.

Resource Efficiency

  • Oppose printed materials, online business.
  • Garbage prevention policy, non-recyclable waste is no more than 15g per guest per day.
  • Use of battery power or fire wood (local traditional methods) only in the field.
  • Office – energy efficient lighting and laptops, switch off policy.
  • Water usage is very low so little opportunity to reduce further.
  • Does not use carbon offsetting as remains controversial.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Encouraging more Australia guests (now about 70% of guests) rather than European or USA to reduce international travel.
  • Encourages locals against deforestation by bringing tourists to those areas because of those natural resources.
  • Maximise use of public transport or use energy efficient vehicles if hired.
  • 5 year pilot project in Raja Ampat – agreement with customary landowners in a bid to preserve the entire Orobiai River catchment (92 sq km of virtually untouched primary forest, set in visually stunning topography, and globally threatened wildlife).
  • Community Conservation and Ecotourism Agreement (CCEA) seals direct structured payments by Papua Expeditions to customary land-holding groups on Waigeo in return for carefully defined and monitored conservation and education outcomes.
  • Indigenous guides have clear understanding of conservation issues and communicate with guests.
  • Provide birding guidelines to prevent disturbance.
  • Improved access through close consultation and assistance from indigenous communities, improved more than sixty kilometres of trails across the destinations.

Soneva Resorts, Thailand & Maldives – Most Inspiring Accommodation

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Soneva Resorts for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes the accommodation provider that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring accommodation of the year.

Soneva Resorts is the original barefoot luxury brand, and still one of the travel industry’s greatest innovators. The acronym SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences) explains the Soneva philosophy. Intelligent Luxury, is all about creating unforgettable, enlightening experiences that rejuvenate each guest’s love of SLOW LIFE. It’s about illuminating lives whilst treading lightly on the earth.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Excellent sustainable business model incorporating social, economic and environmental aspects.
  • Internal and external impact assessment.
  • Mandatory sustainability training.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • A great personal touch to guest communications with “Mr./Ms Fridays.”
  • Concrete emission calculation and reduction goals.
  • Soneva just go so far beyond business as usual… innovation after innovation, active and creative on serious issues.
  • UNESCO Biosphere, shark protection, coral restoration project (30 tonnes of rock), waste to wealth centre, 85% waste recycled, serious engagement with the carbon calculator which avoids dis-ingenuity, Carbon sense fund 450,000 trees planted, whole world water initiative…
  • An established operator with good track record on responsible approaches to sustainable tourism practices.

Inspiring Management

  • Internal and external social and environmental impact assessments made.
  • Engage guests through information in rooms, personal interaction, personal tours, website.
  • Size, layout and location of all buildings planned to integrate the native vegetation into man-made structures and to maintain the natural charm. Large, vegetated parts of the island are unspoilt to provide cooling, shading, fresh air and natural experiences. Villa numbers are kept low.
  • All timber used from sustainable managed, certified sources.
  • Wheelchair accessibility to some villas.
  • Fushi property delivered international event on their SLOW LIFE concept, with international leaders to inspire wider audience on sustainability.
  • Founded WHOLE WORLD Water campaign through their SLOW LIFE Trust.
  • 2/3 properties Long Run Alliance Members; use own Soneva Carbon Calculator annually.
  • Won numerous awards for sustainability.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Hold annual Soneva Nature Trip (through NGO Eco Care, sponsored by Soneva) most influenial environmental awareness event in Maldives. Locals (including 100 students) do various activities, conduct audits and learn about environmental issues.
  • Financially supported Thalassemia Prevetion and Relief programme of screening blood donations (Maldives has highest genetic blood disease prevelance in world).
  • 92% local staff, 50% of management are local people.
  • Staff training target of 9 hours per month, each staff member has own My Development Plan. Mandatory sustainability training for all staff.
  • 50% food from local area (80% organic), lots grown at properties.
  • Each villa assigned with own butler, from local area, who engages guests with local customs etc.
  • 90% staff live onsite, provide good living conditions with access to recreational activities and three meals a day.
  • All staff paid above national minimum wage.
  • Monthly meetings with island leaders to maintain relationships and receive feedback.

Cultural Preservation

  • Do and Don’t guide provided (dress etc).
  • Invite local women to showcase cooking and invite guests to their home to learn.
  • Use locally produced materials for design e.g. coconut ropes.
  • Sale of local crafts through Soneva Gallery.

Resource Efficiency

  • 3% renewable energy – installed 70kW solar PV in 2009 (then biggest on Maldives), expanding to 350kW which will result in 50% reduction in diesel consumption.
  • Each villa has its own Little Green book with information on responsible tourism.
  • 100% self sufficient in water (45% rain water harvested, 45% desalination, 10% deep wells).
  • Water saving: aerators, low flow shower heads, water saving toilets.
  • Monthly monitoring of resource efficiency with targets and bonuses if achieved.
  • Soneva Carbon Calculator includes travel, freight etc – 2011-12 footprint was 42, 500 tons (15% from energy, 76% guest travel).
  • Established Carbon Sense Fund, 2% levy on room bill for carbon mitigation projects (reforestation in Thailand, SLOW LIFE in Myanmar, stoves project in Sudan).
  • Output treated sewage and grey water is mixed with brine to reduce salinity then released into sea.
  • Less than 15% is non-recyclable waste and sent away.
  • Established Eco Centro Waste to Wealth centre with Manager, handles and monitors all Fushi waste.
  • 85% food waste recycled, used on own herb garden.
  • Garden waste composted or bio-charcoal.
  • Working to improve chemicals by working with Eco Lab, hope to install rechargeable batteries.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Baa Atoll, where Soneva Fushi is situated, recently achieved UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. In-house marine biologist involved in establishment of management team for Biosphere Reserve, resort will contribute financially.
  • Soneva Fushi worked with local NGOs to lobby for shark protection and in 2010 a national Shark-fish ban was implemented.
  • Soneva Fushi has own Marine Biologist who trains staff on conservation.
  • Follow IUCN ‘no no’ red list for F&B, work with local fishermen for sustainable fish, prioritize organic food.
  • 66% area left undeveloped (e.g Soneva Fushi island has largest forest cover in Maldives).
  • Use of native salt and drought tolerant plants reduced need for irrigation.
  • Soneva Kiri established coral restoration project – 1,850 corals or 27 species were transplanted, 30 tons live rock incorporated.
  • Offer 3 nights free stay to guests in low season who contribute to community/conservation work.
  • 3 hours per week set aside for marine biologist to monitor reefs, working with IUCN, to development management plan.
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T+L 2012‘Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider’ Award is sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.