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.

Reality Tours & Travel – 2014 Finalist

Reality web

1COMMUNITY ICONReality Tours and Travel is based in Mumbai and is most famous for their Dharavi slum tour. Following the success of their ever expanding product range in the city, they have recently spread their wings to the capital, Kerala, and Rajasthan. Their tagline is “see the real India”; guests get beyond tourism to experience authentic destinations in India, and their unique social business structure supports community development projects along the way.

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…

  • Reality’s Dharavi slum tours showcase the enterprising heart of this community. The tour gives guests an insight into this bustling destination, but there is a strict no photo policy and responsible clothing guidelines for guests to reduce their impact.
  • They have established a sister NGO, Reality Gives, and 80% of profit from all tours goes to the charity to improve the quality of life in the community they operate in. Programs include: community centre, youth empowerment program, English language classes, computer classes, girls football club, library, and curriculum development.
  • Around 93% of Reality’s staff comes from the surrounding area, with many from the Dharavi community itself.
  • Committed to continuously improving themselves, they recently commissioned an external consultant to gather feedback from Dharavi residents. As a result, they are improving on areas identified, including enhancing the reach of their NGO work.
  • In a culture where girls sometimes have to take the back seat, Reality Gives is creating opportunities for girls in activities they would normally not be able to partake in. Through their girls’ football program, they are learning leadership skills, responsibility, friendship, and English.

 

For more information about Reality Tours and Travel, please visit their website.

 

Village Ways – 2014 Finalist

Village Ways web

1COMMUNITY ICONVillage Ways offers eye-opening experiences in India, Nepal, and Ethiopia. In each destination guests can experience the essence of the destination by spending time with families and communities. Each place of stay is an autonomous business belonging to the community, typically a specially constructed or restored village guesthouse, providing direct benefits to your hosts.

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…

  • Many of the homestays guests can experience have been lovingly renovated. Village Ways provides funding for renovation at properties they wish to send guests to. They provide 40% grant and 60% interest free loan, payable only if they send guests there. Communities form committees and manage the enterprise together, empowering them through the running of their own business.
  • They have established a charitable trust as a model to help wider community development, with the objective to provide skills and capacity building to rural communities, to help them improve their quality of lives.
  • Spread benefits by ensuring that the committees have a member from each household.
  • 100% of Village Ways staff is local.
  • In addition to providing training within destinations for accommodation entrepreneurs, they take trainees to different areas to get exposure of industry.
  • Village Ways operates in many untouched destinations, providing immersive experiences with cross cultural interactions with families at homestays.
  • Building communities through tourism, Village Ways ensures local people are involved with the whole process of implementation. They have values of inclusivity and have encouraged women to take on guiding roles.
  • Communities have commented that the process of establishing tourism projects has brought people together and strengthened the community.

For more information about Village Ways, please visit their website.

2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards: Winners

WinnerWe are incredibly excited to reveal the 2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winners. The following businesses have now completed the first stage of the competition and been shortlisted from applicants from across the region.

The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards are based on the UNWTO Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. Our categories both align with criteria in different pillars of sustainable tourism, and recognise inspirational operators.

1COMMUNITY ICONBest in Community Engagement and Development

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

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 & Travel, IndiaVillage Ways, India

2CULTURAL PRS  ICONBest in Cultural Preservation

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

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

6INITIATIVE ICONMost Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

This award recognizes grass-roots initiatives championing responsible tourism within their destination.

Winner: ChildSafe Network (Friends International), 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

Melhua the Fern Ecotel’s Mission for Waste Management in Mumbai

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001There has been a significant increase in municipal solid waste generation in India in the last few decades. This is largely because of the rapid population and economic development. Solid Waste Management has become a major issue and to reduce its impact on health and the environment, Melhua the Fern has come up with the formation of the ALM (Advance Locality Management) program with partnership between citizens for sustainable and environment management.

ALM has been formed by Meluha the Fern in 2011 in Hiranandani Township for the segregation of Solid Waste Management at source where the ALM members and citizens are involved directly. Well publicized eco events, initiative, campaigns, information, and resources are organized from time to time to the city’scitizens to enable the practice of more environmentally conscious and socially responsible lifestyles. Monthly BMC ward meetings are being held and the staff presents at the BMC-Community meetings on several environment issues and discussions learn from the same. These meetings act as appropriate platform to one and all to discuss the urban issue with transparency.

Looking forward to working on many projects in the future for the welfare of Powai and the city the dedication of NGOs, like Stree Mukti Sanghatan workers, prompted Melhua to get involved with them in this ALMs project. They can work with housekeeping in each building to take away free of cost all dry garbage.

“It will lead us to not only a cleaner city, but eventually to a cleaner country”

Presentations and guideline are being presented to the local community, schools, colleges and co-operative housing societies for better understanding of garbage segregation. An interactive curriculum has been developed, targeting environmental sustainability as it relates to the business world for the college and school student studying environment practices thus truly enhancing their in-house programmes to the community outside successfully, adding value to the learning programs on how to implement practices in the world of sustainability which will help for the next generation too.

01_JVP0205Melhua’s efforts are aiming at reaching a zero garbage zone in Powai. They are also helping the B.M.C cut costs by saving on trucks coming to collect garbage. They invite other housing society buildings and corporates to join in making the area a garbage free Powai and look forward to a green collaboration with all business sectors. Waste management focuses on minimization and the 3R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle). Melhua are fully committed to their sustainability policy by integrating innovation into environmental actions. Minimizing their carbon footprint by everyday activities and building in an environmental-friendly culture and communicating it to their local community, staff and guests is the right way to make sustainability.

Meluha is now a certified Ecotel and has the distinction of achieving Ecotel’s highest possible rating: Tier 1 with its average resource consumption reduction of 71%.

Some achievements include:

  • Approx. 39 to 45 kg of wet waste is converted into vermicompost per day and the rest is taken to piggeries.
  • 6 pits + 2 Nirmalaya pits (flowers) where wet garbage is treated and about 1500 kgs vermi compost is recovered per month.
  • All the other dry waste (non-recyclable garbage) is taken and recycled by Shah trading Co.
  • Car Free Day: Creating awareness to save petrol and pollution
  • Imparting knowledge in Ecotel practices to school students
  • Plant a sapling
  • Creating awareness by involving team members and guests in eco sensitive competitions

 

Homestays at the Bamboo Village – a rendezvous with nature and host community

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001Subini Nair, an agri-engineering graduate and management consultant based in Kozhikode, Kerala, made a visit to the Bamboo Village in Wayanad. Inspired by what she experienced, she has joined the ethical-tourism NGO behind the homestay initiative. Here is her story…

My dream about India was more filled with the noisy crowded streets, festivals, wedding bands, political party processions blocking traffic, cows though praised to be holy found wandering around the upper class garbage heaps… But quite forgotten were those images seen in my childhood of the picturesque hilly landscapes and widespread green paddy fields.

622554_273536542750612_21655615_o (1)Coming up the narrow winding rugged roads up the Western Ghats as the Kerala Transport Bus grinded its engine, I was finally able to breathe the crisp and clean mountain air. Had I been blindfolded, I still could have guessed that I am in Wayanad. 2100 meters high above the sea level, braced by mountains and blending beautifully with lush green tea and coffee plantations, lies this kingdom of greens. Plenty of palm trees (‘Kera ‘as in Malayalam- the language of the state) where in Kerala derives its name from, the unending rice fields and the undivided plantain gardens took away all my weary air of the long haul.  The richness of resources, the refreshing climate, the biodiversity and the rural location makes Wayanad a perfect place to stay.

The name ‘Wayanad’ derives from ‘Wayal – Nadu’ (the land of paddy field in vernacular language) and reveals this piece of paradise’s agri-culture.  But here I spotted trouble in this paradise. Though nature has blessed here with abundance, the markets declined the prices of every crop from these hills which led to the devastating and seemingly hopeless situation for the farmer families eventually leading to many suicides.

The Bamboo Village – tiding the other direction

As we say: nature always shows a new direction during each crisis , it seems to be proven true for Wayanad. To flow the other direction as the river Kabani does unlike other major rivers of the state that flows westwards in Kerala. The “Bamboo Village” in Thrikkaipetta, no longer s much for the crop markets to decide their fate, but with the support of the organizations Uravu and Kabani,  today a village that was once never spotted on local tourist maps, has today become one the  much cited locations on the global tourist map.

Community driven initiatives

It is purely the love and livelihood of the community that is bringing tourists to visit this place, and even refers their friends to this village. Today there are seven homestays, with the number gradually expanding as the community imbibes tourism as an additional income for their families. A set of principles evolved with the values of the community including the clear understanding of waste management and effective utilization of village resources, makes the Bamboo Village shower harmony and becomes an example to the neighboring villages. KABANI – the other direction, an organization focusing on sustainable socio-economic development of villages and the conservation of natural resources, continues to share this philosophy by promoting more villages at different locations across India , in tune with their vision  of tourism always benefiting the local people, whilst neither diluting their culture nor harming the environment.

The meeting point of two worlds

DSC_0526The project caters for travellers who look for a very personal and ethical way to stay. The travellers are accommodated in family homes, sharing their hosts’ daily routine, getting to learn about their lives first hand, and tasting the wonderful flavours of home-cooked Keralite dishes. Your host welcomes you into their homes. Here I experienced a hospitality that does not begin and end merely with food being served to you and a room provided; but with families sharing their time and lives with you with no intrusion to privacies.

For the locals, this is a way to decentralize tourism and directly benefit from guests’ holiday budgets. As their homes can cater for a few additional guests, the initial investment is very low. In addition, a benefit sharing scheme makes sure that the entire village has its fair share: Half of the income from accommodation stays with the host families, another 30% goes to a village fund to provide professional trainings, support youth and the elderly, development of village level entrepreneurship, the annual jackfruit festival, and ongoing tourism development. The remaining 20% covers the expenses of the organization KABANI and its sustainable tourism activities.

A record of traditional knowledge – recapturing diluting culture

I met them!  Faces old and wrinkled eyes keen, bright and sharp.  Its anger and anguish, but hope. They see irresponsibility towards nature and living. The elders of this village were thrilled to talk about their times and traditions which offered me the best tips which I think can be solutions to our bigger problems.

Here they made a few tiny steps towards rebuilding a sustainable world from sustainable communities. Don’t you feel like being invited?!  They would love to know you.

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.

 

Apani Dhani, India – Cultural Preservation

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Apani Dhani for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes engagement and efforts by tourism businesses in preserving, enhancing and promoting local cultures and heritage.

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.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Good practices to educate guests through a code of ethics.
  • Active involvement in heritage protection through Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage.
  • Good ways to incorporate awareness-raising efforts into visitor activities, e.g. workshops led by local craftsmen, language lessons.
  • 5% of profit re-invested locally to support education, etc.
  • The owner has worked for 23 years, and maintains a high focus on sustainable and cultural tourism. Specifically related to culture are the food served, financial support for the National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, heritage awareness programs and participation of guests in celebrations, workshops, Hindi, etc.
  • Owner allows local people to sell crafts without charging any kind of commission.
  • Strong commitment to arts and cultural heritage.
  • Has shown two decades of local leadership in responsible approaches to tourism. 

Cultural Preservation

  • Local natural materials used for construction, vernacular architecture.
  • Guests provided information on local customs via talks, email, guided walks, information in rooms, website.
  • Code of conduct for local customs.
  • Only serve regional dishes, provided by the family, all ingredients sourced locally or from own organic garden.
  • Cookery courses available to guests.
  • Provides heritage awareness programmes for e.g. teachers, school children, mural workshops.
  • Encourage guests to visit local artisan workshops and support their business.
  • Artisans able to come and sell products on site, lodge takes no margin on coordinating these activities.
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ITC Sonar: Resource Efficiency

2012 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner: Best in Resource Efficiency

ITC Sonar in Kolkata, India, has taken its commitment of ‘sustainable luxury’ to a whole other level and has enough green credentials under its belt to impress even the most difficult of customers.

The tireless efforts to make ITC Sonar energy, waste and water efficient is exceptional. It was the first hotel in the world to earn carbon credits under the carbon trading scheme. This beautiful 5* hotel is a leading light in renewable energy and resource efficiency.

Why Wild Asia loved this Winner

Our favourite concept!

Management SystemsITC Sonar has an effective environmental management system in place (EMS) following the ISO14001 standard. They also adhere to LEED and USGBC standards. If this is all jargon to you – these are internationally recognised management systems that ensure a business has exceptional environmental best practices in place. Most importantly, they are working. In five years, the hotel saved almost 10,000 tonnes of carbon emissions through environmental measures. They also engage all staff when setting environmental related targets to ensure they are realistic and achievable.

  • Sustainable Purchasing – When submitting tender documents to new suppliers, they have now included an environmental section to ensure their supply chain is doing its bit for the environment too. They have delivered training workshops on green supply chain to their vendors/partners, too.  60% of total purchasing is done sustainably; this means it is from renewable materials, sourced within 500km distance or FSC paper/woods and reused items. They also use Green Seal certified detergents and soaps (environmentally labeled with ISO14020 and ISO14024) and soap nuts to green their cleaning
  • Saving WaterTechnologies such as using LEED accredited aerators are installed throughout to reduce water consumption. They recycle 100% of their water for e.g. toilet flushing. They’ve recently revamped and modified their reverse osmosis plant, which has resulted in more yield and less reject water
  • Waste Management – No waste goes to landfill, organic waste is composted and they have implemented a strict monitoring of food consumption vs demand to reduce waste
  • Reducing Energy Consumption – Measures to save energy have included: all lighting in public areas and guest rooms has now been replaced with LED lighting; low tonnage energy chillers used and variable frequency drivers installed to optimize energy consumption.
  • Educating Guests – Guests are educated about how they can contribute to resource efficiency during their stay by using information in the lobby, posters distributed (e.g. saving water) and ‘green hearts’ with messages of hotels measures are displayed in relevant guest areas. When checking in, guests are given information on energy saving measures, accompanied by electrical key card and in room digital thermostat
  • Sewage – They have been certified by government as a zero water discharge property. Their state of the art 400kl capacity SAFF (Submerged Aerated Fixed Film) plant is monitored monthly by a contractor. Water output is used for flushing, cooling tower, irrigation etc and semi-solid residue forms cakes used for manure in horticulture!
  • Sphere of Influence – Schools can arrange visits to hotel to learn about resource efficiency and the hotel also offers an outreach program (in past 3 years they have worked with 8 local schools, equating to around 250 children, from underprivileged areas). To date they have distributed 3,800 saplings to their associates which have been planted in the area

What did the Judges have to say?

“This hotel is a fantastic model for other, regular city/provincial hotels to relate to and follow”

“Engagement with standards, involving their staff, guests and deep into their supply chain is a real inspiration”

“Their commendable effort can translate to many more establishment becoming resource efficient”

Agri Tourism: Cultural Preservation

2012 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner: Best in Cultural Preservation

Agri Tourism based in rural Maharashtrian countryside in central India, is an innovative scheme to invite city-slickers to get back to their rural farming roots. In an area where youngsters are eager to flee a declining farming industry for quick cash in neighbouring urban areas, Agri Tourism is successfully reversing this trend and giving new hope to rural populations.

This dynamic business is attracting tourist from far and wide wanting to experience agriculture heritage. Generating interest, income and demand for this important part of India’s culture, Agri Tourism is witnessing local farmers diversifying to reap the benefits of both agriculture and tourism.

Why Wild Asia loved this Winner

Our favourite concept!

Sustainable Livelihoods - Prior to the introduction of Agri Tourism holidays, rain water thirsty Maharashtra was having some serious challenges seeing a future in farming. Yet, by diversifying farms for tourism activities, farmers have experienced a 25% growth in business. This money is helping to change up farming habits to a more sustainable way and it’s attracting more people back to their cultural heritage, especially younger generations. To date, Agri Tourism has trained over 1000 farmers in tourism capacity building and 350 farms have diversified, reaping the benefits of a newly found sustainable income.

  • Local Employment – 100% local staff from the immediate village is preventing urban migration and an aging rural population. They also have initiatives for youths, women empowerment and all staff are paid the legal minimum wage or above
  • Cultural Exchange - In an area that historically had no tourism whatsoever, locals are now benefiting from learning from other cultures as well as showcasing their own to new found friends (such as their annual Kite Festival which sees over 500 attendees, traditional bullock cart rides or evenings in traditional dress). Not only is the centre a cross cultural learning experience for foreigners, but Indian guests are satisfied by learning about their own ancestral heritage and culture
  • Community Development - 15% annual profits go to the primary school next door, this money is spent on improving the level of education and for clean drinking water
  • Water – Neighbouring wealthy areas have benefited from the introduction of canal systems, this area would not have been eligible given its sparse population, but the government has expressed interest now there is tourism money coming in and are exploring bringing new canal systems to the village in next 5 years. This will be hugely beneficial to villagers who are losing their crops due to change in climate (very dry)

What did the Judges have to say?

“This is a fantastic project – really impressed”

“A very useful model for community-based
tourism elsewhere in India and throughout Asia Pacific”

“A complete all-rounder”