Kinyei – Winner, Responsible Tourism Initiative

WINNER – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

Kinyei combines two initiatives, Kinyei Café and Soksabike to enrich their local community in Battambang. Through Soksabike, tourists experience an off-the-beaten-track side of Cambodia. Guests begin and end their cycling journey with a refreshing visit to Kinyei Café, which offers training programs for local youth.

Kinyei is run mostly by university students and recent graduates who work and study part-time. The staff often come from under-privileged backgrounds and gain valuable work experience in areas such as customer service, finance, IT, English, administration, and management. Through their jobs at Kinyei, staff are able to finance their university educations while on and off-site job trainings and workshops allow them to grow both professionally and personally. Soon staff will be able to take even more ownership of their work at Kinyei. Now that the two businesses are self-sustaining, Kinyei plans to move forward onto their next phase of local ownership by offering employee profit share and manager share holdings.

Soksabike, which is patroned primarily by foreign tourists takes guests on bicycle journies to visit local cottage industries. These small, family-run businesses make products such as rice paper, bamboo sticky rice, and dried bananas. During their visits guests have the opportunity to sample the products while learning about the production process, Cambodian history, and how and why the families began their businesses. In the future, Soksabike hopes to expand their tour offerings to include a homestay program, multiple-day tours, and tuk tuk tours utilising eco-friendly, solar-powered tuk tuks.

Kinyei Café handles all of the tour bookings and bicycle rentals for Soksabike and is both the starting and ending point for the tours, ensuring customers get a refreshing beverage pre and post ride. The Café is also the hub for all of Kinyei’s responsible tourism marketing information outlining the associations various sustainable initiatives.

Kinyei Café prides itself on serving exceptional coffee, using beans sustainably harvested from Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Two of the Café’s baristas competed and won the Cambodian National Barista Championships in 2012 and 2013 and have competed internationally as well. In addition to their excellent coffee selections, Kinyei Café provides an inviting atmosphere for locals and tourists alike while offering space for meetings and workshops to local nonprofits free of charge.

Contributing to the local communities and maintaining those relationships is of utmost importance to Kinyei. Profits are shared with the families visited during Soksabike’s tours while Kinyei Café provides space for local artisans to showcase their work. Kinyei also organises workshops on environmental protection and heritage preservation for local schools and businesses to educate and positively influence the local communities in sustainability.

For more information about Kinyei, visit their website: http://www.kinyei.org/

Watch their video here

CBT Vietnam – Finalist, Responsible Tourism Initiative

FINALIST - 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

Dedicated to using tourism as a means to protect vulnerable ethnic communities, CBT Vietnam developed sustainable tourism training initiatives in the rural villages of Tavan, Taphin, which have become completely self-sufficient, and Lao Chai. These local communities have been empowered to establish tourism-related businesses and homestays.

CBT Vietnam began after an instructor from Capilano University (one of CBT Vietnam’s founding partners) visited the region and was inspired by the potential of working with unique villages and cultures to develop community based tourism programs. Since then CBT Vietnam has demonstrated a long-term commitment to protecting vulnerable, ethnic hilltribe culture through tourism. In addition to their on-the-ground training programs CBT Vietnam promotes awareness of vulnerable cultures and responsible tourism through their web presence, films, and social media.

From the beginning ommunity involvement has been essential in developing CBT Vietnam’s programs. Before any programs could be implemented CBT Vietnam spent a lot of time building relationships and trust in the communities where they planned on working. Since then the communities have embraced the value and uniqueness of their cultures. Many of the training modules and learning initiatives were generated by the communities, which ensures members are engaged and take ownership of their economic futures.

CBT Vietnam’s training initiatives include providing general tourism knowledge to the community, community tourism planning for local authorities and community stakeholders, entrepreneurship for youth and women, business development, and environmental stewardship. In the future CBT Vietnam hopes to establish an independent school in association with a local social enterprise that will maintain training for all ethnic groups in the Sapa region.

During their training local participants were given opportunities to experience tourism from a different perspective by travelling to Hanoi and becoming consumers of tourism services themselves. They met with tour operators, patroned hotels and restaurants, and utilised visitor information services. The experience allowed the participants to learn about what makes a positive tourism experience so they can improve the services they offer visitors to their community.

For more information about CBT Vietnam, visit their website: http://www.cbtvietnam.com/

Watch their video here

EXO Foundation – Finalist, Responsible Tourism Initiative

FINALIST - 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

EXO Foundation believes in fostering sustainable development through responsible tourism practices, which they accomplish by guiding their tourism branch, EXO Travel, and financially supporting sustainable projects.

Earlier this year EXO Travel was awarded the Travelife certification for excellence in sustainability. The certification recognises their long-term efforts towards sustainability and corporate, social, and environmental responsibility. EXO Foundation took on supervising the certification process as well as its implementation by training and empowering EXO Travel staff to follow best practices, such as banning school and orphanage visits on tours. Through this certification, along with their focus on donating to a wide range of charitable projects across Southeast Asia, EXO Foundation hopes to make a positive difference in local communities and entire destinations by influencing better practices in the travel industry.

One of their unique projects, spearheaded along with COMPED (The Cambodian Education and Waste Management Organisation), tackles waste management issues: Don’t Waste Your Waste. The campaign aims to reuse plastic bottles for construction and has already built a plastic bottle/brick house in Battambang. They also developed a comic strip, which informs about the risks associated with disposing plastic waste from several angles: environmental, spiritual, and health as well as the impact of dirty tourist sites on a destinations image and the financial costs for urban centers. COMPED has adopted the comic as a tool in their “Clean city, clean resort” campaign and have distributed copies to schools and universities.

EXO Foundation plans to continue their environmental conservation efforts by partnering with NEXUS, a carbon offset program. They also hope to continue teaming up with local responsible tourism operators on sustainability campaigns, like their “Don’t Waste Your Waste” program.

For more information about EXO Foundation, visit their website: http://www.exofoundation.org/

2015 Responsible Tourism Awards Finalists

PATA Travel Mart has Sustainability Centre Stage – Wild Asia Awards

Now in their ninth year, the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, has just announced their 2015 Finalists.

The Wild Asia Awards was the first of its kind to identify Asia based sustainability superstars in the travel industry, and remains the only regional responsible tourism awards. The Awards are based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria, and provide a unique opportunity for tourism businesses and projects to benchmark their work against international standards. Participants also benefit from gaining third party verification from the panel of esteemed expert judges.

This September, Winners will be officially announced and celebrated at the 2015 PATA Travel Mart in Bangalore. “Sustainability is one of the main advocacy themes of the Association and an important issue to address when we talk about the responsible development of travel and tourism,” said Mario Hardy, PATA CEO. “We are therefore delighted to host the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards at this year’s Travel Mart and share in the celebration of tourism organisations that truly exemplify what it means to be sustainable. Wild Asia is a valued PATA Sustainability Partner, and a special partner of the Responsible Travel Pavilion at PTM, a space where like-minded organisations can gather, share knowledge, and build business.”

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

Best in Protection of Natural Areas & Wildlife Conservation
This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.

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.

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator
This award recognizes the tourism operator that excels 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 tourism business of the year.

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative
This award recognizes grass-roots initiatives championing responsible tourism within their destination.

Over the next couple of months, all Finalists will undergo further rigorous investigation to determine the 2015 Winners. During this time, thorough open-source articles will become available on the Wild Asia website for each of these businesses or projects. The aim of sharing their successes, challenges, and
lessons learned, is to inspire and influence the industry to adopt measures to become more socially and environmentally responsible.

For those wishing to join the PATA Travel Mart and celebrate alongside the winners, the deadline for applying to showcase your business at the Responsible Travel Pavilion is 30th June 2015. Full details can be found at here.

Winners: 2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards

RTAwinners

On the closing day of this year’s ITB Asia (Marina Bay Sands, Singapore), Wild Asia revealed the 2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award Winners as part of the annual Responsible Tourism Forum. Each year, Wild Asia hosts the region’s premier get together for sustainable travel professionals, to share experiences and expertise to like-minded businesses and passionate individuals. The conclusion of this exciting networking event is always the grand revealing of the year’s Responsible Tourism Award recipients.

In line with this year’s UNWTO theme, Wild Asia has highlighted people in destinations in the 2014 Awards with categories dedicated to ethical practices to support host communities and conserve vibrant cultures in destinations around the region. The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards began in 2006 aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC), enabling local operators to gain international recognition and inspire the tourism industry through sharing their best practices.

Award recipients go through a robust application and judging process, allowing Wild Asia to identify leaders in corporate social responsibility and sustainability who go above and beyond to use tourism as a tool for positive social benefits. First, businesses complete an application based on the GSTC to measure themselves against global standards and benchmark their operations. Wild Asia brings together a group of responsible tourism industry experts as a panel of international judges, who navigate the applicants’ details to identify a pool of Finalists. Finalists then undergo further inspection through site visits and personalised interviewing based on business and destination specific issues the organisation should be addressing. Finally, Winners are selected; these are operators who demonstrate exceptional commitment to continuous improvement, and implement dynamic and creative measures to be a change-maker in the tourism industry.

Best in Community Engagement & Development

WINNER: Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia

Based in Malaysian Borneo, Borneo Eco Tours has been a pioneer in responsible nature tours since 1991. Two of their most popular destinations in which they operate includes the iconic Kinabatangan River, where guests can enjoy their award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo’s famed primates, and Kudat, which provides opportunities for guests to visit and support cottage industries (supported by their partner NGO, BEST) along the scenic coast.

FINALISTS: Reality Tours and Travel, India; Village Ways, India

Best in Cultural Preservation

WINNER: Ock Pop Tok, Laos

Ock Pop Tok is located in the stunning UNESCO town of Luang Prabang in Laos. For the past 15 years they have been working to cultivate and preserve Laos’ textile heritage through sustainable tourism. Today, they have visitor accommodation, a Living Arts Centre, retail outlets and a restaurant – all where visitors can enjoy the colourful textures as rich as Laotian culture. 

FINALIST: Andaman Discoveries, Thailand 

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

WINNER: The ChildSafe Network, Cambodia

The ChildSafe Network, delivered by Friends-International, is helping to protect vulnerable children in tourism destinations across Cambodia and other parts of South East Asia. Their 7 Tips for Travellers helps tourists make the right choices in responsible travel to advocate child safety. Beyond that, they’re also working behind the scenes to get children off the streets through vocational training, supporting their parents through jobs, and generating funding and employment through social ventures.

FINALIST: BEST Society, Malaysia

 

If you missed ITB Asia’s Responsible Tourism Events (coordinated in partnership with Wild Asia and the Blue Yonder), presentations from various speakers can be found on our website here. 

Wild Asia plans to launch the 2015 Awards in March next year, and interested businesses should refer to the following website for further news and application forms: www.tourism.wildasia.org

ChildSafe Network – 2014 Finalist

ChildSafe web

6INITIATIVE ICONThe ChildSafe Network, delivered by Friends International, is helping to protect vulnerable children in tourism destinations across Cambodia and other parts of South East Asia. Travellers can sometimes unknowingly put children at risk of exploitation, and the ChildSafe 7 Tips helps tourists make the right choices in responsible travel to advocate child safety. Beyond that, ChildSafe is also working behind the scenes to get children off the streets, through vocational training, supporting their parents through employment, and generating employment through social ventures.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative…

  • The ChildSafe Network is a holistic and multifaceted child protection program run by Friends International since 2004, both globally and in destination countries (most well known in Cambodia) throughout South East Asia.
  • The aim is to raise awareness of child protection through the tourism industry, through media campaigns, grassroots campaigning, training of tourists, training and certification of businesses, supporting the income generation of marginalized families, and responding to child abuse through the ChildSafe Hotline.
  • By providing training and certification to tourism businesses, more establishments are issuing child protection policies, and communicating messages to travellers. To date around 5,000 businesses are now engaged in promoting child safety through tourism.
  • The ChildSafe 7 Tips for Travellers is now available in nine languages, and published in international departure airports and agencies, and at arrival airports and agencies in this region. More than 3 million travellers have been exposed to this campaign.
  • Conducts awareness raising on the streets and in communities of the at risk children, educating them how they can protect themselves and where they can seek help.
  • Through their hotline, they are protecting around 2,000 children per year. Social workers respond to calls to safeguard children.
  • They have retail outlets providing opportunities for caregivers to sell products they make and provide financial stability to keep their children in school. In 2013 sales amounted to $450,000, supporting 450 caregivers and over 1,300 children, as well as providing income for Friend’s other social service programmes.
  • Across our region, there are country specific ethical tourism issues. For example, in Cambodia orphanage tourism is prevalent, as are baby milk scams and begging. ChildSafe responds to specific challenges, creating campaigns to raise awareness and tackle the issue through educational materials.
  • Whilst many of their funding needs are met through generous donations, their social enterprise model is increasing and making the programme more financially sustainable. In the busy tourist town of Siem Reap alone, you can support their work by eating at their restaurant, shopping at one of their retail outlets, getting your hair done at their salon, or fixing your moto and their new bike repair shop.

 

For more information about the ChildSafe Network, please visit their website.

(Photo credit Robert Buchan)

 

BEST Society – 2014 Finalist

BEST web

6INITIATIVE ICONBEST Society, which stands for Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies, supports rural communities in Malaysia’s Sabah establish and improve their own social enterprises, improving their quality of life through business. Moving away from charity, now the NGO focuses on capacity building in social entrepreneurship, and is increasing access to markets for cottage industry artisans.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative…

  • BEST was founded by Borneo Eco Tours, and Sukau Rainforest Lodge, as an organisation to provide welfare to communities to develop social entrepreneurship.
  • The objectives are promote responsible tourism, generate secondary incomes through nature tourism, education, test sustainable technologies in local setting, provide capacity building, develop code of practice for ecolodges in Sabah, multi-stakeholder dialogue and management.
  • As well as tree planting, health and dental camps, clean water projects and more, BEST has also delivered training to establish longhouse properties, organic farming techniques, and responsible tourism.
  • Liaise with community leaders and committees about setting up projects to respond to their needs.
  • Adopted 65 acres of riverine landscape and reforested the land, preventing soil erosion into the river and maintaining wildlife habitats.
  • Organised free medical camps and issued water tanks benefiting 56 families.
  • Around 50% of BEST activities are funded through private donations or grant funding, and the rest is generated through a sustainable financial structure via contributions from every guest at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

 

For more information about the BEST Society, please visit their website.

 

Ock Pop Tok – 2014 Finalist

Ock Pop Tok web

2CULTURAL PRS  ICONOck Pop Tok is located in the stunning UNESCO town of Luang Prabang in Laos. For 15 years they have been working to cultivate and preserve Laos’ textile heritage through sustainable tourism. Today, they have visitor accommodation, a Living Arts Centre, retails outlets, and restaurant – where visitors can enjoy the colourful textures as rich as Laotian culture.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Cultural Preservation…

  • Ock Pop Tok has been constructed by renovating a traditional Lao home, and the full design has been approved by UNESCO.
  • Their Living Arts Centre provides classes and workshops in traditional arts and techniques, such as weaving and dyeing.
  • Food served in their restaurant is inspired by Lao cuisine, and sourced locally from organic farmers and markets.
  • They run a Village Weaver Project which builds the capacity of artisans and connect them to markets. This is run in partnership with local NGOs and is currently delivered in 11 provinces.
  • Each guest room is designed in keeping with Lao ethnic groups, each with a unique theme giving a real sense of place for every visitor.
  • Ock Pop Tok regards themselves as an engine for growth and awareness of culture beyond Lao border.  Visitors from far and wide can explore their gallery of beautiful pieces, directly benefiting the weavers when purchasing local crafts. They share weaving techniques in foreign countries so that other artisans can learn and enhance their own culture.
  • Currently, they are providing a fair living wage to more than twenty artisans.

 

For more information about Ock Pop Tok, please visit their website.

 

Andaman Discoveries – 2014 Finalist

Andman Discoveries web

2CULTURAL PRS  ICONAndaman Discoveries in Thailand was born out of tragedy, and formed shortly after the Boxing Day Tsunami when villagers decided that community-based tourism would allow them to generate additional income and support their traditions, culture, and lifestyle. Since then, Andaman Discoveries has been offering various tours (volunteer trips, family holidays, and educational visits for schools) to empower the local community. Their Moken Experience tour supports nomadic communities preserve their culture through responsible tourism.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Cultural Preservation…

  • Education is key at Andaman Discoveries. As well as offering educational tours to school groups, they also work to educate all guests by providing information in the following forms: Pre-Departure Guide, In-Village Guide, Visitor’s Phrasebook, Koh Surin Moken In-Village Guide, and Koh Surin Moken Way of Life.
  • They have created a library collection on local Moken culture. Moken Sea Nomads, an ancient sea people who have lived along Thailand’s North Andaman coast for thousands of years. Traditionally nomadic, the Moken are hunter-gatherers that live in harmony with nature. Guests are encouraged to learn more to discover how they can help preserve this culture that faces challenges of modernisation.
  • A translator accompanies guests on village tours and if they are attending traditional ceremonies, so that customs can be communicated.
  • They advocate traditional building within the community, and the use of sustainable building materials.
  • Guests can learn more about traditional Thai family life by staying at one of their partner homestays . Fun activities include learning how to prepare local food dishes.
  • To support local artisans, they have a shop which provides the opportunity for seven villages to sell their products and traditional crafts.
  • Their historic tours have resulted in the Moken community sharing their wisdom with others and have been inspired to build traditional boats to inform guests about their nomadic heritage. Tours introduce guests to the traditional lifestyle and culture of local communities, which help local communities develop a sense of place and provide the guest with a greater understanding of the area’s cultural heritage.
  • Moken communities have been integral in the development of tours, based on their recommendation. Jobs have been generated for engaged individuals, who have also benefited from capacity building in sustainable tourism development.

 

For more information about Andaman Discoveries, please visit their website.

 

Borneo Eco Tours – 2014 Finalist

Borneo Eco web

1COMMUNITY ICONBorneo Eco Tours, based in Malaysian Borneo, has been a pioneer in responsible nature tours since 1991. Two of their most popular destinations in which they operate includes the iconic Kinabatangan River, where guests can enjoy their Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo’s primates, and Kudat, which provides opportunities for guests to visit and support cottage industries along the scenic coast.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Community Engagement and Development…

  • In 1996 Borneo Eco Tours established a non-profit foundation, BEST Society, to deliver community projects in destinations in which they operate. To date, this has included installing water tanks to villages with no access to clean water, medical and dental camps, introducing organic farming projects in rural areas, and tree planting.
  • They are very committed to sourcing staff locally, and pride themselves that 100% local of their team is made up of local people, including management level.  Furthermore, staff have access to great benefits such as a higher than national minimum wage, medical benefits, recreation activities, allowances for overtime, and special skills training.
  • After more than two decades of successful business, Borneo Eco Tours shares its expertise and access to useful contacts with other budding entrepreneurs. They have been training local community members in tourism and supporting them to establish their own social enterprise. Some examples include: increasing access to markets for artisans (e.g. beaded jewellery makers, weavers, coconut oil and honey producers), sending 50 farmers on an organic farming training course,  and technical support to accommodation proprietors.
  • As big believers in sharing their cultural heritage, many tours include visits to cottage industries which support the local economy.
  • To date, their operations have generated approximately $127,000 for community and environmental projects. They have achieved this by including a levy on every guest’s bill which automatically is invested into local BEST projects.

 

For more information about Borneo Eco Tours, please visit their website.