Nikoi Island – Winner, Responsible Operator

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

Situated off the Indonesian coast, Nikoi Island offers guests a private getaway and peace of mind thanks to their environmental initiatives, such as their unique passive-cooling building design constructed from primarily recycled driftwood and alang alang grass in the traditional Indonesian style. With the majority of the island left untouched, Nikoi gives guests an intimate introduction the the natural environment with activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, and trekking.

Nikoi Island employs inspiring strategies to minimise energy waste and environmental impact. Despite their tropical location Nikoi Island doesn’t use air-conditioning, instead buildings are kept cool thanks to double layer roof design, which promotes vertical and horizontal ventilation. All of the toiletries provided in guests’ rooms are biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and packaged in refillable bottles. You’ll be hard-pressed to find beverages bottled in plastic, Nikoi keeps their plastic consumption low by only using refillable glass bottles for water and straws made from bamboo.

Some of their short and long-term plans for further sustainability include: recycling greywater for gardening use; local reef restoration, establishment of “no fishing” zones on the reef; turtle conservation; increasing incorporation of locally-sourced, organic foods; utilization of more renewable energy sources; and the establishment of an artist in residence program for Indonesian sculptors.

To maximise their ability to support the local communities and environment, Nikoi Island established The Island Foundation (TIF), a registered charity in both Singapore and Indonesia, run by an independent board. TIF works with the local government and area communities on their various initiatives, like the collection of plastic waste along the beaches, sponsoring local events, monitoring nearby shipping to prevent illegal dumping, and improving education standards in the area. Another big project: working with the Orang Suku Laut in Berakit village to protect their delicate mangrove ecosystem. The mangroves are considered sacred and are a main source of food for the community.

In an effort to prevent the negative effects of tourism, Nikoi Island does not offer tours to local villages. Instead, cultural interaction is encouraged with staff members and information on culturally appropriate behaviour and language guides are provided in guests’ rooms. Also, events and activities promoting cultural heritage, like Batik and jewelry workshops, nature talks, and cultural performances, are organised through TIF.

For more information about Nikoi Island, visit their website:

Watch their video here

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.

Training the new dive guides of Komodo

Wicked Diving in Indonesia are working with local communities to empower a long-term commitment to responsible dive tourism.

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001The Komodo National Park area of Indonesia is one of the jewels in the nation’s crown. The Komodo dragons have ensured international recognition and a flow of tourists which is increasing year on year. The other major draw card for this area is the diving – touted by many to be some of the best in the world. There are a plethora of dive organisations who aim to introduce divers to the wonders of the Komodo’s underwater world and the people of Labaun Bajo are prospering as the town thrives and expands.

However, the people from Komodo themselves are some of the last to benefit from their natural inheritance. Ensconced on an island, battered by winds and scorched by sun, life is tough for the 1500 or so residents of Komodo village. This wonderful natural environment turns out to be the third poorest province in Indonesia. As a result, education and job opportunities for the young men and women growing up on the island are inadequate. The main profession is fishing which is a traditional vocation; however it is becoming less and less viable as all of our oceans and marine life suffer the effects of overfishing. It’s not unlikely that within a few decades artisanal fishermen will be unable to support their families, leading to a downward spiral of unemployment and poverty. The people of this area should be able to benefit and prosper from the natural resources and jobs created by an influx of tourists to the area.

mantaTo remedy this, Komodo has to be given back to the people, and what better way than to train the young people of the island to become dive guides. This is something that Wicked Diving set out to resolve by partnering with local organisation Komodo KITA. Based out of Labuan Bajo in Flores, Wicked Diving had already worked closely with Komodo KITA when they embarked on an SSI Instructor training programme to train 6 local dive guides from Labuan Bajo to Instructor level. A Dive Guide course can typically be provided to local guides on an internship basis, meaning the costs are absorbed and employment is given upon successful completion of the course. However the costs involved in an Instructor course can be very prohibitive to local dive guides, making it near impossible for them to progress within the industry. With full support of Komodo KITA and a number of external sponsors, Wicked Diving hosted the first ever SSI Instructor course in Labuan Bajo. The course was offered on a free of charge basis to 6 candidates. Wicked Diving’s contribution to this was firstly to donate their classroom and teaching facilities to the course. In addition, all diving training was completed onboard Wicked Diving’s boats, equipment was provided and full support, coaching and advice was given by our in-house instructors. At the end of the course, we were all delighted that 5 candidates went on to sit their Instructor Exam and became fully fledged SSI Open Water Instructors.

Throughout this process, Wicked Diving immediately recognised the merits of working with Komodo KITA and accepted an offer to come onboard and partner up to create opportunity for the young people of Komodo village. The programme began with the task of initial dive training, with was provided by the new SSI Instructors. 20 young men from the island were trained in 3 different diving courses; Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver, and Stress & Rescue Diver. This then set the candidates in a position to start considering a Dive Guide certification; however there was now the question of experience. It is possible for divers to become reach a ‘professional’ level with the minimal amount of experience, but does this make for a good guide?

A good dive guide needs experience in diving, the more dives the better, and a rounded understanding of what the ‘real-life’ role of a guide is like, not to mention language skills, a thorough understanding of dive safety and a likeable personality. This is where Wicked Diving was able to step in and share its skills and experience. Throughout June, July and August, the dive centre welcomed 5 interns from Komodo island, each of them for a 4 week period. During this time the Komodo interns were involved in all aspects of day-to-day life in our busy centre.

The dive centre offers a variety of trips to our guests. The interns in this programme joined our live-aboard trips, heading out into the National Park for 6 days and 6 nights on board our boats. They joined our day trips, both diving and snorkelling and were coached throughout the process. Their dive skills improved noticeably as their number of dives grew. They were taught about the importance of safety in diving and also respect for the marine environment. To have such early exposure to considered and respectful diving practices is incredibly important. It is easy to pick up bad habits when learning any skill, we have been able to not only ‘nip bad habits in the bud’ so to speak, but also explain to them the reasons why we do this. This is THEIR Komodo. Divers come here to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and they are able to be the new ambassadors for this. To understand the worth and fragility of the reef is invaluable.

Fauzi and Yadi clean the beach in the Komodo National ParkInterns were given important ‘face-time’ with our guests and always introduced as staff members. This was an integral part of the programme as it allowed them to develop the confidence of dealing with people from all over the world, something which can be very daunting at times. Diving is a very social industry and the interns were encouraged to spend as much time with guests as possible. This helped to convey Wicked Diving’s philosophy that a Dive Guide is much more than someone who leads you on a dive. It was also a great place for them to practice their conversational English. Towards the end of their internship, some of them even had the confidence to stand up in front of groups and give dive briefings with the assistance of our instructors.

Obviously, it doesn’t just end with the diving. We were able to teach the interns organisational skills within the centre, equipment care, handling and safe use and also give them exposure to sales. This is an industry where a smile can mean more than the words that were spoken, and in typical Indonesia style, they had this in abundance!

From a logistical stand point, we had to consider options for lodgings, as Labuan Bajo, where Wicked Diving is based, is not their home town. Wicked Diving provided food and board to every intern for the duration of their stay.

Each intern has and continues to work hard for us, something which has already been recognised by our guests and publicly through reviews on the internet. Based on this enthusiasm and tenacity, Wicked Diving decided that we would fulfil the complete Dive Guide course with the two most promising individuals from the programme. We have trained them to a level where they can successfully work for us as snorkel guides and both have already been given paid work in this area. We now enter a period of learning and they will be busily studying not only for their SSI Dive Guide certification, but also undertaking English classes. Wicked Diving and Komodo KITA will combine and fully fund their entire Dive Guide certification, provide access to English classes and also a full set of dive gear for each of the successful candidates. On completion of their training, the two new Dive Guides will be given a one year contract with Wicked Diving, starting from March 2013.

Wicked Diving, and its experienced staff members, are in the lucky position to be the experts in the diving industry. Without advice and support from seasoned dive professionals in a well-established business, candidates wouldn’t be able to receive adequate training the skills and guidance to ensure continued employability within the industry. In addition, by providing training in-line with the businesses core principals; safety, ethical practice and a fun and memorable guest experience, this will set the new Dive Guides apart from their peers. They will become actively involved in conserving their new home and natural inheritance.

Wicked Diving wholeheartedly believe that local people, native to an area, should have the means and skills to fully reap the financial successes of this area. All of our instructors are looking forward to working with our 2 chosen candidates to increase their employability and enhance the quality of their lives and that of their families. The hope is that programmes such as this will inspire more of the people who reside in Komodo village to become deeply involved in this programme and that these candidates will become role models to their peers. They will set a fine example of what can be achieved through motivation and training.

Joining forces to save Kalawa Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kalwa Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

ViaVia Tours, Indonesia – Most Inspiring Tour Operator

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

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

Our favourite things about them!

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

Inspiring Management

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

Community Engagement and Development

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

Cultural Preservation

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

Resource Efficiency

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

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

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

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

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

Our favourite things about them!

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

Inspiring Management

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

Community Engagement and Development

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

Cultural Preservation

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

Resource Efficiency

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

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

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

2013 Awards – Why should I apply?

IMG 1391 2_1Why should I apply? 

The difference our Awards have made...


Marc Van Loo, founder of 2012 Winner of Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator, LooLa Adventure in Indonesia shares with us just how they have benefited from receiving international recognition through our Awards.

Pictured: Marc Van Loo

1.       What partnerships have you made through our Awards?

We’ve been exploring the idea of creating a Wiki portal for tourism operators to share best practice. Through the awards, we got in touch with Geoffrey Lipman (Secretary General of UNWTO and past President of the WTTC) and together have been in touch with Wikipedia. Their CEO got personally involved and we received assurances of dedicated support.

Most recently we are busy designing three new Eco villas that support local employment and are resource efficient. As well as a team of fantastic experts we’ve engaged with this work, past Award winners Sarinbuana (Bali) are also helping to support this project (Norm is designing villas as we speak!).

The award gave our international credibility an enormous boost and was instrumental in opening all these doors for us.

Significantly, the Wild Asia award led to an invitation from WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow awards (2013) to apply, and we’re now one of three finalists in the Community Benefits category, further enhancing our credibility.

2.       How has the Award made a difference to your destination?

The local government has always liked what we do and is very proud of our achievements. They are very happy to see that what they liked about us, is also recognised independently and internationally.

Most of all, the Award has done miracles for empowering our staff.

It has hit them: we are no longer a bunch of villagers in a remote place in Indonesia, we compete at the world stage, and we’re going to show that we can retain and enhance that position. Motivation has never been this high. The Wild Asia checklists have done wonders for pushing certain not-so-popular items like waste (water) management to the front.

3.      Has the Award provided a platform to improve your responsible tourism communications?

The award enabled us to get an appointment with some of the highest officers in Singapore within STB (Singapore Tourism Board), which is very nice.

For internal purposes, it has been great. Now we can always refer back to the application forms, and all our staff now accepts that this stuff is very important.

4.       Has the Award application improved your systems/identified areas to improve?

Absolutely. The process allowed us to identify the management of waste water and water supply were some of our areas that could be improved.

We’re currently working with an architect who has just completed an initial design for (waste and rain) water, and is working together with experts for waste water integration.

We also wanted to improve our energy efficiency. Electricity is now being completely overhauled. At first I thought that this was not possible – but now it turns out that we are able to have air-con in our new villas in a eco-sensitive way, not using ANY batteries and only using solar power! It’s all very exciting!

5.       In what way has Wild Asia as an organisation supported your business?

Wild Asia has always been ready to answer any question if they were in a position to do so, by generously and sharing relevant contacts in their network without any clear benefits for themselves except creating goodwill.

Really, absolutely tops.

LooLa Adventure: Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator

2012 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award Winner: Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator of 2012

LooLa Adventure, located on Bintan Island in Indonesia near the Singapore coast, is a eco-haven for fun-loving adventure seekers. Since opening in 2000, LooLa has championed the benefits of a resort built from local materials and with local staff. In fact, LooLa’s inspirational commitment to employing local staff means that 100% of the team are from the immediate area, transforming lives through employment generation, training and related community action.

A majority of LooLa’s business derives from educational school packages, and children benefit from engaging in a host of community development projects that are really making a difference. As well as thrill-seeking activities like rock climbing or kayaking, students have contributed to such projects as cementing village trails, (fruit) tree planting, building sports pitches for orphanages and local villages, and building beds for elderly residents. These are projects that have been requested by local people, and joint monitoring by LooLa and the village community ensures that everyone in the local vicinity benefits.

In addition to exceptional efforts made to ensure tourism is a force for good for local people and livelihoods, LooLa is also very committed to reducing their environmental impact. They have boldly refused to install air-conditioning to reduce energy guzzling consumption; use a natural sea water pool and use locally available materials for construction to reduce on transportation and to invest in the local economy.

Why Wild Asia loved this Winner

Our favourite concept!

Community Engagement – Every family in the neighbouring area has been listed in LooLa’s community action plan. For every project delivered by LooLa’s staff or guests, this is recorded. This ensures that everyone benefits and equally. Their efforts to work with the community aren’t just for show, but projects that really make a difference and activities that are in demand by the local people themselves. Truly committed to supporting local people, LooLa is covering the cost of supplying mosquito nets to the neighboring village community, and has set up a public-private partnership so that villagers have easy and affordable access to hospital treatments.

  • HRM Management - A 100% local staff force benefit from a transparent bonus scheme, peer mentoring, capacity building training and a salary that is on average twice the local wage. Also, uniquely, the LooLa staff runs their own shop and drinks business on site for the direct benefit of the staff fund.
  • FundraisingIn 2011 alone, 90% of visitors took part in donating funds for important local projects and raised $70,000 to community development projects in which they subsequently participated themselves
  • EnvironmentBold moves to educate guests about the need to conserve resources, the resort has no hot showers nor air conditioning to save energy. They also use chemical free mosquito control and use a ‘no plastic water bottle’ policy
  • Cultural Commitments – In order to ensure that life isn’t all work and no play, LooLa recognises the significance of cultural dates in the calendar and closes entirely for the benefit of local staff during events like Hari Raya
  • Future Plans – LooLa is expanding while ensuring it is done in the most sensitive of ways. New bungalows will all have their own solar energy and generate more locally sourced jobs. They will also levy ‘eco surcharges’ for those wanting to use more water or energy!
What did the Judges have to say?

 “An all-round highly believable product” 

 “All-rounder that has excelled in all the subcategories under the most inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator

 “Loola’s story is convincing & homegrown” 


LooLa: Local Local Local

Top 3 Winner of the 2011 ‘Inspiring Stories from Destinations’ Competition

LooLa staffA Dutch/French educator couple wanted to start an educational/adventure resort in Bintan which —will benefit all stakeholders. Their vision to create a dynamic  100% locally staffed business, —leveraged on the natural Indonesian hospitality —catered to Singapore’s (expat) expectations. Radiah shares the journey of LooLa Adventure Resort with us.

—”We finished building the resort in the year 2000 and have worked exclusively with local staff only (in our Singapore office, the staff is all local Singaporean). —It’s been a challenging but always fun and interesting venture, but the happy and overall conclusion is this: our fully local staff were able to keep up with the increasing expectations of our guests, and we succeeded in becoming market leader for overseas educational trips from Singapore.

We created a win-win partnership in which we charge our clients a modest sum (typically US$ 10-20) to participate in a stimulating and worthwhile community involvement project. Challenge: to create realistic expectations with all parties on what can be achieved!

We have worked with local government; fantastic partners in Indonesia once they are assured you really seek to empower local people & staff: they have helped us all the way, teaching our staff how to obtain cheap licenses, and engaging us with every public/private partnership we proposed!

LooLa developmentWe had to slowly replace existing village and family hierarchies with horizontal democratic decision-making, and replace traditional short-term thinking with long-term thinking. Staff had to start feeling like co-owners and embrace the somewhat novel notion of pride in work. On the next and last slide, we share some of the tips and pitfalls in this journey!”

—Some top tips and pitfalls in creating a community led tourism business:

  • Pull women into management and all departments!
  • —Generate “owner understanding”, and allow staff to open their own business (shop, massage, …) on site
  • —Private system of health and pension benefits
  • —Institute a very transparent system of department and task descriptions which encourages everyone to take more ownership and enjoy transparent rewards. This system should include a transparent work calendar.
  • —Instill democracy & a sense of partnership between owners & staff
  • —Use the power of the internet (Facebook, Tripadvisor, Dropbox) to drive home the notion of ownership
  • —Institute transparent result-driven bonus systems.

Watch video of Radiah’s story