Asian Elephants in Captivity: A Closer Look

This article is reposted from Buffalo Tours website…

Last year, Buffalo Tours launched an ambitious initiative to tackle an important issue: the welfare of captive elephants in Asia. Coming from a long history in logging, many elephants now live in captivity within tourism camps whose main income is elephant riding – a practice that raises important questions about animal welfare. As leaders in responsible travel, Buffalo Tours completed an encompassing review of our tours to establish strict welfare standards, with the ambition to phase out riding in the future.

A year on, we invited Nicolas Dubrocard of WildAsia on a visit a collection of camps to shed light on the issue, our initiative and the future of captive elephants in Asia. Go behind-the-scenes with him for a closer look at our steps toward lasting change. This is the story from his perspective.

My first would-be interaction with wild elephants was only a few years ago. I was in Khao Yai National Park – a vast and beautiful region of Thailand just a stone’s throw from Bangkok. The two-day trip was a master class in wildlife spotting – bats, giant lizards, birds and deer darted in and out of view while we trekked and drove our way through dense jungle foliage.

We were mesmerised by the life of the jungle, but our group of eight was most looking forward to one particular wildlife close encounter: spotting wild elephants.

I remember the sun beginning to set on our second day, and a palpable excitement course through our group. This was the golden hour for elephants, our guide told us, and it was just a matter of time before the gentle giants wandered into our peripheral. All of us were squeezed into the back of a pick-up truck, oblivious to our discomfort as we rattled toward an area where elephant spotting was best.

Khao Yai Guide

The truck came to a halt, and we spilled out onto a quiet park road flanked by jungle. Minutes passed as our group waited silently, motionless for fear that any movement would spook the creatures still hidden in the trees. The sun was nearly beyond the horizon, and our eyes darted to our guide, whose gentle smile was beginning to give way to worry.

Suddenly the walkie on his hip crackled to life, and after a few muffled words of Thai, he urged us back into the truck. “There are elephants on the other side of the park,” he assured us, before throwing the truck into drive and speeding down the road well above the speed limit. Our cameras ready, we tumbled back out of the truck a few minutes later as our guide motioned triumphantly toward a pile of elephant droppings. While the most enthusiastic of the bunch began snapping photos, I remained in my seat, feeling dejected.

Khao Yai Wild Elephant

As the night fell and our hopes of seeing wild elephants evaporated, the atmosphere in my car shifted from happy anticipation to forlorn disappointment. Many knew that this would be the last time they’d ever have an opportunity to see wild elephants, and I could sense the frustration hidden behind their sad expressions.

“Did we really care about the elephants, or did we care about the photos on our camera instead?”

Yet only hours ago, these same sad faces were overcome with excitement at the prospect of experiencing elephants in the wild. Despite my own disappointment, the shift of the group’s energy made me wonder – what made international travellers react this way? If these elephants were living in peace, comfort and freedom, who were we to change things for our own amusement? Did we really care about the elephants, or did we care about the photos on our camera instead? Being part of this paradox left a bad taste in my mouth.

Close Encounters

A few years later, I would find myself in Ayutthaya, Thailand with my wife. She had one goal in mind – to ride an elephant. We travelled to an elephant camp where dozens of tourists were queuing near a raised platform, climbing aboard an elephant for a 20-minute ride along a busy road packed with cars and trucks.

Based only on what I saw with my own two eyes, I had a gut feeling that something was off. It was hot – nearly 40 degrees in the sun – and the elephants appeared to be anything but happy. The procession seemed a million miles away from the lush national park in which I’d once hoped to see elephants in their natural habitat. If wild elephants lived hidden within the depths of a lush Thai jungle, how could this environment be appropriate for the very same creatures?


With a strange sense of discomfort, I decided not to go for a ride, and let my wife to go along without me. She jokingly dubbed me a “sustainability freak”, even though I’d never considered myself an animal welfare advocate before. To me, it wasn’t a matter of ethics or animal welfare – what lay in front of me was common sense.

My stroll around the camp solidified by discomfort. These incredible creatures were living in squalor – on extremely short chains attached to trees, swinging back and forth on their front legs like a metronome. Nearby, tourists goaded the creatures with bananas or corn, snapping selfies as the visibly concerned but powerless mahouts looked on.

“To me, it wasn’t a matter of ethics or animal welfare – what lay in front of me was common sense.”

In front of me was a prime example of supply and demand. The care of the elephants surely relied on the income of the camp, and even well-meaning tourists threw money at the opportunity to tick another item off of their bucket list by riding an elephant. Meanwhile, camp owners and mahouts gave the tourists what they wanted – knowing full-well that by doing anything less, the camp’s income (and ultimately the capital for the elephant’s care) would dry up.

A History of Struggle

I’d learn later that these incredible creatures were often veterans of the logging trade, and came from even more dire working conditions than the tourist camps. In 1989, logging was officially banned in Thailand after a series of disastrous floods that wreaked havoc on local communities. In a desperate bid to keep their gargantuan wards fed and sheltered, the out-of-work elephants’ mahouts would send them to the only place they knew they could: to the elephant camps.

Bathing time for elephants

With the cost of feeding a single captive elephant for one day at $30 – and with average monthly income in Thailand just under $500  caring for these creatures required one important thing: money. Despite popular belief, captive elephants are virtually impossible to release back into the wild, and require care and food throughout their 50-year life spans. The industry was faced with a dilemma – allow the elephants to die out, or provide an incentive for tourists to visit elephant camps with their vital travel dollars?

“The industry was faced with a dilemma – allow the elephants to die out, or provide an incentive for tourists to visit elephant camps with their vital travel dollars?”

Thus, the market for elephant riding was born – fueled by the well-meaning but misguided aspirations of travellers. While many camps attempted to build a larger boundary between the elephants and visitors, travel dollars most often funneled toward camps that provided the biggest “bang for the buck”.  More often than not, these same camps were the ones with the worst treatment of their elephants.

elephant 2

But in the early 2000s, the public began waking up to the mistreatment within the elephant tourism industry. Shocked and appalled by the treatment many captive elephants endured, a flurry of elephant riding and elephant camp boycotts sprung up among the travel community. Yet, even as more informed travellers call for an end to all elephant riding, the gaps that they leave behind are quickly filled by those that either don’t know or don’t care about elephant welfare.  Which leaves those committed to lasting change with an important question: how can change at a demand level really work?

Change at a Demand Level

In my work with Wild Asia, I collaborate with countless hospitality and travel brands in order to make the travel industry more responsible and sustainable. In recent years, the discussion about elephant welfare began bubbling to the surface – and around the same time, the responsible travel team at Buffalo Tours approached me with an exciting new project.

The Buffalo team was embarking on a massive and encompassing audit of all of the elephant camps that they worked with, using a lengthy set of criteria. The intention was to not only source camps that were the gold standard for elephant welfare, but also find those that were committed to making a change but needed support in doing so.

“The intention was to not only source camps that were the gold standard for elephant welfare, but also find those that were committed to making a change but needed support in doing so.”

The goal was two-fold: reward responsible camps with more business, as well as give other worthy camps the tools and incentive they needed to change their operations. By doing so, the Buffalo team hoped that they could be at the forefront of a massive change. But as a team of locals, they knew that this quantum shift must begin with discourse. Only then could they lead camp owners away from the quick win, and toward a more responsible future.

elephant 3

In April of 2016, I was lucky enough to visit three of Buffalo Tours’ proudest examples of change in Thailand. Throughout my visits to these three elephant camps, I learned about what change really looks like at a demand level – and about how travellers themselves play a massive part in all of it. In part two of this series, I’ll share these lessons I learnt and how I see the future for elephants in Asia.


Khiri Travel – Finalist, Responsible Operator

FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator

Offering sustainable travel options to a variety of destinations Khiri Travel Group is committed to providing travelers authentic experiences. Whether on a walking tour of Old Town Phuket in Thailand or a culinary excursion tasting local dishes travellers will leave with life-long memories.

Whether you are traveling to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, or Vietnam, Khiri Travel wants to share their passion for discovery. For example, their Phuket Old Town walking tour takes guests away from the bustling tourist beaches and instead showcases the historic and cultural side of Phuket.

Khiri Travel aspires to become the leading brand in quality tourism. Both the CEO and Sustainability & Responsible Tourism Manager have represented the company in a number of forums, working groups, and conferences in an effort to share their best practices. Other members of staff are encouraged to engage with sustainability issues through various events such as their Earth Day activities held in all of their destinations to reinforce Khiri Travel’s commitment to long-term environmental sustainability.

In Khiri Travel’s Thailand office, guides have participated in intensive trainings certified by The Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators. Other guide training programs that have taken place over the past few years placed special focus is put on environmentally and culturally sensitive activities such as elephant rides and orphanage tours, as well as how to respond to guests’ requests for locally offered excursions that may not be responsibly operated.

Khiri Travel incorporates sustainable practices not just on their tours, but also into their day-to-day office life by installing water filters to minimize the need for plastic bottles, minimizing packaging waste by purchasing products like milk and sugar in bulk, and sourcing eco-friendly office supplies, like printer paper when available. Their partnerships with host destinations are also built with responsible tourism in mind. Supplier contracts were developed after Khiri Travel reviewed excursions that could be potentially environmentally or culturally sensitive and include sustainability clauses. Partner organisations are also given access to an “Agent Portal” with content such as “Forbidden Souvenirs” and an “Endangered Species on Menus”.

For more information about the Khiri Travel Group, visit their website:

Watch their video here

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

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.


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 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).

cultDSC_0242Banjaar Tola 2KecapiPlayers

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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