2013 Responsible Tourism Award Finalists

finalistFinalists Revealed!

2013 has been a record year for the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards. In its seventh year, we are pleased to announce our best year yet! We received 45 quality applications from the widest geographical spread to date, including entries from all corners of South and Southeast Asia region: India, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nepal and Cambodia.

Our panel of judges had their work cut out picking our 2013 Finalists, especially in our Tour Operator category which received the highest number of entries.

We are over the moon to reveal our 2013 Finalists. The following will now undergo the next round of judging and our 2013 Winners will be announced at our signature ceremony hosted at Asia’s biggest business-to-business travel trade show, ITB Asia, in Singapore this October. In an effort to ensure transparency and promote best practice to inspire others, this year we will be publishing case studies on all our Finalists…we look forward to sharing with you soon.

Congratulations to all our Finalists and good luck.

Best in Community Engagement and Development

This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Bali CoBTA webBali CoBTA, Indonesia more

Bali Community Based Tourism Association (Bali CoBTA) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable tourism. By facilitating the development of community based tourism villages, tourists are given a unique opportunity to experience local culture and community life, while communities are empowered to earn an additional income by preserving and showcasing their culture and heritage. Why Wild Asia loves them!

The advisory committee and organisational structure of the association (including the governor of Bali!) is really a great achievement.

Lisu Lodge webLisu Lodge, Thailand more

Named after the Lisu hill tribe village that is found near the lodge, Lisu Lodge is part of a community-based project that aims to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes of northern Thailand. The Lisu migrated from southern China and Tibet in the early 20th century. Why Wild Asia loves them!

A ‘Village Bank’ fund set up to support local communities – an innovative example of how a business can contribute to local well-being in a concrete and practical way. Tangible, quantifiable contributions to local capacity and development funding.

Best in Cultural Preservation

This award recognizes engagement and efforts by tourism businesses in preserving, enhancing and promoting local cultures and heritage.

Apani Dhani webApani Dhani, India more

Apani Dhani is based in the heart of Rajasthan. They offer eco-friendly accommodation, excursions and activities with locals such as cooking lessons, initiation to traditional arts and crafts. Staying will enable travellers to discover daily life and traditions of rural India. This charming and peaceful ecolodge, is an ideal place to start or finish a journey in Rajasthan. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Strong commitment to arts and cultural heritage.   Has shown two decades of local leadership in responsible approaches to tourism.

Sampran webSampran Riverside, Thailand more

Sampran Riverside (formerly known as Rose Garden Riverside) is a family-run property close to Bangkok, where visitors can experience authentic Thai way of life and learn about local wisdom. For decades it has been considered one of Bangkok’s favourite attractions because of the obvious dedication to preserving Thailand’s natural and cultural heritage by engaging with the local community. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Provides a unique Thai cultural experience with a focus on cultural and architectural preservation.  Has a long history of serving the tourism industry & providing local employment opportunities through the preservation and presentation of Thai culture.

Best in Protection of Natural Areas and/or Wildlife Conservation

This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.

Ranweli webRanweli Holiday Village, Sri Lanka more

Ranweli Holiday Village is an eco-friendly resort located on a 22-acre peninsula where mangrove forests and winding rivers converge to meet the sea. Located only 18 kms from Colombo’s International Airport, Ranweli is the perfect base to explore the fascinating history, culture and nature of Sri Lanka. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Lots of tangible examples: e.g. contributions to conservation, education, carbon offsetting, sewage treatment, green purchasing, and mangrove rehabilitation.

Scuba Junkie webScuba Junkie, Malaysia more

Scuba Junkie provides daily dive trips to more than 25 islands in the Celebes Sea in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Whether you want macro diving at Mabul and Kapalai or wish to dive with sharks and turtles at Sipadan Island (frequently voted in the top 10 dives sites in the world) Scuba Junkie will take you there. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Exemplary awareness raising, solar power, $70,000 spent on waste cleaning, best available sewage treatment, reef check, turtle hatchery, no seafood (wow!), dive against debris…

Best in Resource Efficiency

This award recognizes excellence in waste, water and energy management and sustainable architectural design in order to minimize your business’s environmental impact.

Frangipani webFrangipani Langkawi Resport and Spa, Malaysia more

This secluded and eco-friendly resort is situated on a 400-metre stretch of soft golden sand along Pantai Tengah, southwest of Langkawi. All 117 rooms, villas and suites are spacious, tastefully decorated to provide a calm feeling and relaxed atmosphere. Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa is the first resort in Langkawi to implement Green practices to preserve the environment. Why Wild Asia loves them!

‘Walks the talk’ when it comes to responsible and sustainable tourism approaches.

Heritance webHeritance Kandalama, Sri Lanka more

Heritance Kandalama is an architectural masterpiece by Geoffrey Bawa, built overlooking the eighth wonder of the world – the rock fortress of Sigiriya. The hotel sits at the heart of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, close to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Why Wild Asia loves them!

A well known contributor to sustainable tourism practices across Asia Pacific.

Also recognised by our Judges:
  • ITC Gardenia, India more
  • Soneva Fushi, Maldives more

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider

T+L 2012(Sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia) 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 Kiri webSoneva Resorts, Thailand & Maldives more

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. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Soneva just go so far beyond business as usual… innovation after innovation, active and creative on serious issues.

Sukau Rainforest webSukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia more

Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo’s magnificent wildlife. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Active conservation and environmental practices. It’s a great achievement to have raised over 1 million RM on community projects.

Also recognised by our Judges:
  • Nikoi Island, Indonesia more

Most Inspiring Responsible Tour Operator

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 webPapua Expeditions, Indonesia more

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. Why Wild Asia loves them!

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.

Via Via webViaVia Tours, Indonesia more

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. Why Wild Asia loves them!

Excellent community development, resource efficiency for such a small project. Strong in the “influence and inspire” area.

Also recognised by our Judges:
  • Andaman Discoveries, Thailand more
  • Reality Tours & Travel, India more

Advertising Discount for Wild Asia Supporters!

Exclusive Discount for Responsible Tourism Business

2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Media Partner ‘SOST’ is offering an exclusive advertising discount to Wild Asia fans.

Spotlight on Sustainable Tourism (SOST) is a trade journal for stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry. The journal’s mission is to motivate tourism businesses, big and small, to adopt sustainable business practices with the message that sustainable tourism is ‘Good for the Planet and Good for Business’.

SOST is read by a diverse audience consisting of professionals in the tourism industry, tourism business owners, destination marketers and academia. It has particularly found favour with those interested in sustainable and responsible tourism. SOST is published bimonthly (six issues per year). It appears the last Thursday of the month of the cover date.

  • 35% discount (off regular price) for Wild Asia fans – quote ‘WILD ASIA’
  • Exposure to over 10,000 readers across Asia with an interest in responsible tourism, and another 90,000 worldwide
  • Advertise in the June, August and October 2013 issues to avail the discount
  • Feature in our 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards SPECIAL ITB Asia addition, October 2013
  • Contact advertise@sostinternational.com for more information
  • To know more about SOST, visit: www.sostinternational.com

Tourism & Conservation in Malaysia

Seeing a turtle, a tiger or any other animal in its wild natural habitat is a breathtaking experience not only for a nature lover, but anyone easily enthralled by pure beauty. Unfortunately opportunities to do so worldwide are getting smaller and smaller as both turtles and tigers are under the threat of extinction in many locations, including Malaysia.

Fortunately for us and the wildlife there is a lot that can be done to preserve both of these beautiful animals on Malaysian land. A variety of organisations aware of the preservation issues have put a lot of effort to support the environment and made it possible for others, including tourists, to get in involved. Anyone, regardless of their skills, can get involved in a number of conservation projects across the country.

Joining a programme like these enables you to not only learn about the wildlife of Malaysia but you also get a chance to help preserve them, this is Ecotourism at its best. - Daniel Quilter, Ecoteer founder


Photo taken from http://ecoteerresponsibletravel.com

One of few organisations who realised the need for action is Ecoteer Responsible Travel having established a variety of conservation projects in partnership with credible NGOs such as MYCAT and local stakeholders in order to help preserve the best of Malaysian wildlife. Now tourists can be part of several conservation projects in Malaysia while on holiday.

Tiger conservation at Merapoh, on the borders of Taman Negara, is one of such important programmes run by Ecoteer. The aim of the project is to maintain the wildlife corridor between Taman Negara and main mountain range used by tigers to pass through. The corridor is there to allow migration of wildlife while avoiding isolation and preserving the continuity of number of species, including (apart from tigers) elephants, rhinos, sun bears and leopards. Protecting and improving the corridor is the daily duty of many volunteers who decided to participate to make a difference. Find out more about the Tiger Trail.

The Merapoh programme is something special, in a 2 day expedition the Ecoteer Team managed to find tracks of Sun Bear, Elephant and 2 leopards, plus we deactivated 2 snares and whilst collecting camera traps we captured photos of Sun Bear, Tapir, Golden Cat and a Tiger.  The animals are out there and so too are the poachers, join this programme and do the best thing you can do for Tiger conservation and remove a snare!

Alongside rainforest, Malaysian marine wildlife is another focal point of conservation projects based on the coast. Country’s famous green sea turtles are being monitored in Perthentian Islands by volunteers who have a unique chance to experience underwater wildlife protection whilst learning about the process and educating others, including tourists in the location.

The Perhentian islands are paradise, however many issues still exist like waste disposal and poaching of turtles eggs.  By Joining this programme you are helping to protect one out of 4 key nesting sites in the Perhentians.

Volunteering on conservation projects does not only benefit the wildlife, but also people involved. Programmes like the one in Taman Negara, are a great opportunity to discover the richness and learn about the complexity of rainforest ecosystem as well as difficulties involved in protection of such a vast natural area. Jungle trekking or diving with turtles are firsthand experiences not to be missed by nature lovers and all those concerned about environmental protection. After all it is the wildlife and people who make these places special. Travel & make a difference – support tiger and turtle conservation in Malaysia.

Global Endorsement for Travelife

[pullquote style="right"]Wild Asia is Travelife’s official South East Asia Partner. We’re really excited to be launching the scheme here in Malaysia.[/pullquote]

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recently announced that the Travelife standard for Tour operators and Travel agents has achieved ‘Recognized’ certification status.

Rigorous review and authorization procedures have determined that Travelife’s revised Tour operator and Travel agent standard is considered equivalent to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria; the minimum requirement for tourism businesses worldwide. The GSTC is supported by the UN and is comparable with the FSC standard for wood and the MSC standard for sustainable fish.

Naut Kusters, Manager of Travelife for Tour operators and Travel agents said: “I am delighted that the Travelife for Tour operators and Travel Agents standard achieved GSTC Recognition. It will provide direction to committed tour operators and recognition for front runners. The standard is comprehensive and profound and has integrated leading global standards and guidelines for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility”.

With support from the EU Eco-innovation program, national trade associations in more than 15 countries already promote Travelife to their members. The Travelife training, reporting and planning tools are available in more than 10 languages.

Travelife in Malaysia

Wild Asia has recently been appointed as Travelife’s South East Asia partners. Travelife is the world’s most far-reaching international responsible tourism certification scheme; and the only scheme of its kind recognised by international players such as Thomas Cook, TUI, Virgin Holidays and Kuoni. It recognises best practice in environmental and social responsibility, as well as quality. The demand for certification from such operators is increasing and we want to showcase what Malaysia has to offer; perfect timing for Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

Why Travelife?

Managing and marketing Malaysia sustainably, we believe, is the only step forward:

  • Protecting the product – Millions of visitors come to Malaysia each year for our beautiful natural environment and rich cultural heritage. About 10% of total tourist arrivals (that’s 2.4 million people) to Malaysia are purely nature tourism related travel (Economic Transformation Programme, 2010). Tourism has a part to play in protecting the very essence of why visitors come, sustainable tourism ensures these are preserved and enhanced.
  • Safeguarding our economy and livelihoods – Revenue from tourism related activities contributes almost 12% to the GDP and total revenue generated from the tourism sector is RM62 billion (2012).
  • Increase in demand – For example, by 2020, Thomas Cook wants at least 1,500 of their hotels Travelife certified. Malaysia can tap into the high spending European market by taking sustainability seriously.
  • Competitive advantage – Neighbouring and competitor destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia and Australia have all taken the plunge to gain green credentials and are reaping the benefits. It’s time Malaysia to join suit and exceed their achievements.

What happens next?


We’re currently looking for Malaysia based partners from tourism associations and authorities to help ensure the success of the introduction and implementation of Travelife into our country.

If you are interested in partnering this scheme and have a membership of tourism operators across Malaysia, download our Proposal below and contact us on rt@wildasia.org 

[Download not found]

Tourism Operators

The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism team are recognised regional responsible tourism experts. As official partners of the Travelife scheme, we are excited to be offering bespoke consultancy packages for local tourism businesses to help them get on the path for certification and get the most out of the sustainability system.

If you are a Malaysia based tour operator or accommodation business who is interested in gaining accreditation but needs a helping hand, please contact us to discuss beginning your journey to sustainability, rt@wildasia.org 

Time for tourism to 'step up to the mark'

While Malaysia clearly has an abundance to offer tourists seeking back-to-nature adventures or retreats,  it’s time tourism stepped up to the mark, to satisfy eco-conscious travellers and play a bigger part in reducing its impact on the environment and communities.

Amy McLoughlin and Reza Azmi write for Business Circle about responsible tourism in Malaysia.

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Sustainability Training for Tour Operators

Between the 24th and 25th of October 2012, Wild Asia joined their new sustainable tourism partners, Travelife, in Bangkok for a two day training workshop for tour operators titled “Sustainability in Tourism”.

More than 80 Thai tour operators joined a two-day training in Bangkok to learn how to integrate sustainability and CSR principles into their company.

Participants included already committed Thai travel companies interested in achieving formal recognition and better market access, as well as major ground handlers who felt a growing demand from their European business partners for complying with international sustainability standards.

How to make the sustainable attainable

The tourism professionals learnt how to integrate sustainability in their office operations such as energy saving and reducing paper use as well as staff-related social policies and human rights. They also looked with “sustainable glasses” towards their transport, accommodation and excursion providers. A more sustainable supply chain can be created by contracting already sustainable suppliers and by supporting existing business partners towards more social and environmentally friendly behavior.

The participants also learnt about the principles of sustainability management and created their initial sustainability mission statement, policy and action plan. In addition they learnt about the growing expectations of European consumers and business partners for accountability on sustainability and how to apply the international Travelife Sustainability System.

Implementing what has been learned

The training kicked off a larger programme in which the European travel associations ABTA (UK) and ANVR (NL) work together with their Thai counterparts in order to promote a more sustainable EU – Thai tourism supply chain. Participants will be offered follow-up support in the use and implementation of the knowledge, methods and tools acquired in the training. The ultimate goal is to prepare for sustainability certification in order to increase competitiveness in the global market.

Amy, from Wild Asia, comments on the training workshop. “I was delighted to see so many different types of operators eager to become sustainable. It was inspiring to see that businesses realise the potential benefits of sustainability beyond just saving some money. Of course, the cost benefits can be huge. But tour operators want to offer life changing holidays that educate visitors, benefit communities, promote workers’ welfare and conserve the natural environment”.

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Gain regional support

Wild Asia are delighted to announce our official partnership with Travelife. This means we will be the SE Asia advocates for the sustainability system, working with tourism operators across the region to improve their business.

We want our region to improve in sustainability, benefit from the environmentally aware market and become recognised as a leading area for responsible tourism. We’ll be offering a range of bespoke consultancy packages to aid businesses towards Travelife certification.

If you are interested in gaining support towards a certification, or would like to discuss responsible tourism training further, please contact us.


The training, organised by the Thai tour operator associations ATTA and TEATA, was financially supported by CBI, the Dutch agency for the Promotion of Imports from Developing countries and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative.

(The content of this webpage was adapted from a press release preprared by Travelife. Photos: Travelife)

Inspiring Stories from Destinations 2012

This is our second year running the “Inspiring Stories from Destinations” competition and annually we’ve been WOWed by amazing individuals and organizations who have found in themselves a passion to make a difference in the travel industry and leave a legacy for the next generation. It is our privilege to share with you the Top 3 Inspiring Stories and 7 other incredible efforts in Asia.

[message type="custom" width="100%" start_color="#9DAAC7" end_color="#9DAAC7" border="#BBBBBB" color="#333333"]We’re convinced that there are many other inspiring efforts out there. Contact us if you wish to submit your story or nominate someone or an organization. Entries open approximately 1st August 2013. Stay tuned! [/message]

Meanwhile, enjoy the read below:

Top 3 Inspiring Stories

More Inspiring Stories

Call for Inspiring Stories

Is the local community, environment and wildlife better off because of what you’ve done?

We want to hear from you.  Inspire others with what you have done for your destination. 

* Please note the deadline for submitting your Inspiring Story 2012 has now passed and closed *

This is your chance to impress customers, industry players, potential buyers and the media by showing them that responsible tourism is possible and powerful in making a difference if done right.

International platform for your stories

Send us your story and you may have the chance to present at the ‘Responsible Tourism Event’ at ITB Asia this coming October in Singapore. Three successful entries will have the privilege to present their stories in a two minute presentation as the curtain opener to our Responsible Tourism Event supported by ITB Asia on 19th October, 2012 (Friday) from 11am-1pm. (If you can’t make it, videos or slideshows can be delivered).

The selection of successful stories is based on the authenticity of the story, creative and innovative elements and the power to inspire other toward making responsible tourism a reality.

On top of that, selected 10 entries will also be featured on Wild Asia’s website where travelers explore the wonder of destinations and how they can enjoy a different kind of travel; one that’s earth & people friendly.

Example of 2011 Inspiring Stories

Submit your story

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 24th September, 2012 (Monday). Please title your email “RT Stories for RT Event at ITB Asia 2012″ and include your Name, Email, Organization and Destination in your email. Successful applicants will be notified via email by 28th September, 2012.

We can’t wait to hear your story!

The Responsible Tourism Event is a continuation of the successful Responsible Tourism networking events that started in 2009. Organized and supported by ITB Asia, Wild Asia, The 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.

Find out who the winners of the “Inspiring Stories from Destinations” 2012 Competition are…

Wild Asia & Travelife Partnership

Wild Asia is proud to announce an exciting new partnership with the international sustainable tourism certification and training scheme, Travelife for tour operators.

For more than ten years Wild Asia has been working across Asia championing the benefits and potential of developing a tourism industry that benefits local places and people through their Responsible Tourism Initiative (RTI). Wild Asia’s RTI works with businesses to improve their social and environmental practices to meet and exceed global standards. By creating partnerships with businesses within the industry, they aim to inspire and create change to benefit our environment, wildlife, people and communities.

Travelife, developed in 2002, was set up to support an efficient and cost effective introduction of sustainability principles for the tourism industry. They offer industry-wide standards for sustainability management systems and provide best practice guidance and support for tour operators implementing them through the provision of training, tools and references.

The new partnership with Travelife is a perfect marriage of values. Wild Asia will be the Asia based Travelife delivery partner, offering training and support to tour operators across the region. Tour operators will benefit greatly from having locally based expertise at hand.

Together, the sustainability partners will support tour operators achieve green accreditations, enhancing the tourism offer for customers and improve marketing for the region. Adopting responsible tourism principles through the Travelife training programme and management systems will not only improve participants’ corporate social responsibility profile, it will also provide significant cost saving opportunities, enhance relationships with staff and host communities, and open doors to new marketing avenues.

Reza Azmi, Founder and Director of Wild Asia, the only Asian grown organization dedicated to responsible tourism across the continent, speaks out about the exciting new partnership. “We’re delighted to be working with Travelife. Becoming accredited Travelife Auditors and Regional Representatives is great news for Asia. We look forward to working with locally based tour operators, helping to improve their business, tourism for Asia, and protecting our diverse environment and unique and treasured cultural heritage. Sustainable tourism has never been more important, and in demand. A recent Lonely Planet survey revealed a staggering 93% of people said they would purposefully partake in environmentally-friendly travel. Businesses must step up to the demand”.

If you are a tour operator based or operating in Asia and are interested in beginning your journey towards sustainability, please contact Wild Asia to enquire about joining the Travelife scheme. Please contact us at rt@wildasia.org.

Wild Asia’s Reza Azmi pushes for sustainable tourism

Former environmental researcher with WWF Malaysia Reza Azmi saw a pressing need to get tourism operators in Asia and beyond to do business more sustainably by engaging with local communities. The Malaysian tells Elizabeth Ferns how he, together with some peers, has since set up his own social enterprise-based consultancy – Wild Asia.

Wild Asia’s main initiative is responsible tourism. How is sustainable tourism different from responsible tourism?

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