Asia’s Best Responsible Tourism Businesses Revealed

2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winners

The seventh Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards revealed its six prestigious winners at Asia’s biggest business-to-business travel trade show, ITB Asia, today (Friday 25th October) in Singapore. From all corners of the region, this year’s winners represent leaders in sustainability, each showcasing how the tourism industry can be a force for good. These businesses are inspirational examples of socially and environmentally responsible companies, making a big positive difference in the destinations they operate within.

Best in Community Engagement and Development

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

Workplace staff_small business opportunityWinner: Lisu Lodge, Thailand

Named after the Lisu hill tribe village that is found near the lodge, Lisu Lodge is part of a communitybased project that aims to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes of northern Thailand. Lisu Lodge has demonstrated an inspirational commitment to creating a sustainable local economy through
capacity building and employment, empowering women’s groups through the conservation of heritage crafts and contributes to a local development fund for community initiatives led by indigenous communities.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Bali CoBTA, Indonesia

Best in Cultural Preservation

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

1.Apani Dhani - central hutWinner: Apani Dhani, India

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. Apani Dhani’s multifaceted cultural mission is based on engaging the community on many levels, supporting local artisans and cottage industries, and campaigning for the protection of historical buildings.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Sampran Riverside, Thailand

Best in Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

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

Scuba Junkie presentationWinner: Scuba Junkie, Malaysia

Scuba Junkie dive resort located on Mabul island, provides daily dive trips to more than 25 islands (Including Sipadan Island (frequently voted in the top 10 dives sites in the world)) in the Celebes Sea in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. They have established a range of partnerships to protect the marine environment and wildlife, ranging from government to marginalized local communities. They are also managers of the Mabul Turtle Hatchery, chair of an annual marine week and advisers to the Semporna Shark Sanctuary.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Ranweli Holiday Village, Sri Lanka

Best in Resource Efficiency

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

Heritance webWinner: Heritance Kandalama, Sri Lanka

Heritance Kandalama is based in the heart of the cultural triangle in Sri Lanka, built overlooking the the rock fortress of Sigiriya. Endorsed by both ISO14001 and ISO50001 management systems for energy and water efficiency, they continuously achieve quantitative goals to reduce consumption. Their Eco Park has been visited by over 1.8million guests, partnering with more than 30 local schools and various conservation bodies – Kandalama has excellent commitment to promoting environmental education.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, Malaysia

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider

(This category is sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia)

This award recognizes the accommodation provider that excels in all of the above categories, by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring accommodation of the year.

Soneva webWinner: Soneva Resorts, Thailand and the Maldives

Soneva Resorts is the original barefoot luxury brand, and still one of the travel industry’s greatest innovators. The acronym SLOW LIFE (which stands for Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun- Experiences) explains the Soneva philosophy. Soneva supports clean water projects, an orphanage initiative and a hunger alleviation charity. They have helped implement a local ban on shark fishing, established a coral restoration project, and their innovative carbon calculator ensures they continuously strive for inspirational resource efficiency.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia

Most Inspiring Responsible Tour Operator

This award recognizes the tour operator that excels in all of 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.

tourWinner: ViaVia Jogja, Indonesia

ViaVia tours, based in Jogjakarta, all offer something unique – including adventure, gastronomy and culture. ViaVia is also an arts hub providing space to young local artists, whilst supporting marginalised groups. Parts of the ViaVia profits go to support educational, social and cultural projects in and around Jogjakarta. They have provided humanitarian assistance to local natural disasters, helped establish a rural community library and delivered free training to local groups and guides.

* Why did they win? Download their factsheet! *

Runner up: Papua Expeditions, Indonesia

Amy McLoughlin, Awards Coordinator, says “Congratulations to all our worthy winners and finalists. All of them are role models for the industry. Their investment in community engagement, workers’ welfare, cultural conservation and environmental stewardship – make the travel industry a more exciting place to work. Most importantly, they’re supporting long lasting development in their destinations across Asia, ensuring a more sustainable future for the places we love to visit”.

Looking for inspiration for your tourism business? Visit the Wild Asia website for fact sheets on this year’s twelve finalists to discover their best practices and social impact. Furthermore, businesses can also uncover this year’s winning entries from the Inspiring Stories from Destinations competition, also hosted annually at ITB Asia.

Special thanks to our 2013 Media Partners – especially T+L Southeast Asia and SOST for their amazing support! Also thank you to ITB Asia for letting us use this fabulous platform to showcase our Finalists and Winners.

Presentations From Responsible Tourism Events At ITB Asia 2013

On behalf of ITB Asia and the other co-organizers, Wild Asia would like to thank you for participating in the Responsible Tourism Clinics and Forum at ITB Asia 2013. We would also like to thank all our speakers who graciously spared their time to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with us. The outcome was overwhelming and we hope that 2013 will be bigger and better. Please contact if you wish to be part of 2013′s Responsible Tourism events.

Below you will find the full set of presentations throughout the 3-day event. Click on the links below to view the presentations. Let’s continue to “Learn, Be Inspired and Make a Difference!”


Voluntourism – Are The Extra Hands Helping? by Martin Stevenson & Amy McLoughlin

Voluntourism is a growing travel sector and with it comes the pros and cons of volunteering abroad. For the volunteer, it can be a travel and learning experience, a new way of seeing the world while giving back, but for the local communities it may be disruptive, intrusive to local cultures and traditions or its benefits short lived. How effective and sustainable are voluntourism programs?

Martin Stevenson – Voluntourism Through The Eyes of A Backpacker 

Amy McLoughlin – The PEPY Story 

Impact Of Sustainability Initiatives On Customer Choice by Kumud Sengupta

What impact do sustainable business practices by travel companies have on travellers’ choice of a travel service provider (hotel, resort, tour operator etc.)? A survey was commissioned by Market Vision in mid-2013, aimed to determine the extent to which demonstration and promotion of sustainability initiatives by travel companies can impact customer choice behaviour. The results suggest that, all else being equal, a certain proportion of travellers would be inclined to patronize a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible while a larger proportion would be inclined to go with a travel company whose sustainability credentials are easily visible and are endorsed by a credible third party assessor. A smaller proportion of travellers would not care. What should eco-tourism businesses do to attract such customers and influence their choice?

Be a Hero: Child Protection in Responsible Tourism by Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon

The sexual exploitation of children should not be a part of the tourism reality, but it is. Although tourism is not the cause of this crime, offenders utilize the services and infrastructure of the tourism industry to carry out the crime. Thus, the tourism industry has a responsibility towards combating the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. The Code is a tool that allows your company to implement child protection for responsible tourism.

Poverty Alleviation Through Sustainable Tourism Development: An Idea Or Reality? by Chananya Phataraprasit, Djinaldi Gosana and Hannah Won

A debate has arisen over the actual effects the tourism industry has within developing countries, and to what extent it helps the poor. The concept of tourism as a means of poverty alleviation has been around for nearly a decade, but there is a continuing debate over its effectiveness. Is tourism actually helping to give families and communities a better life or are here leakages that we do not see? Hear from various credible sources including the people on the ground and decide for yourself.

Bali CoBTA

Lisu Lodge 

Hannah Won – Orphanage Tourism 

Story Telling – How To Communicate Responsible Tourism (Without Sounding Boring!) by Adrianna Tan,  Jeremy Torr and Robin Boustead

Responsible Tourism as tool for branding and marketing is slowly dulling in the background with too many cases of greenwashing and/or boring technical achievements in sustainable practices. It’s time to sharpen your marketing edge and liven up the way you tell your story without compromising on credibility and the great business practices you have adopted. Find out how others have told their story and what travellers are really looking for.

Telling Travel Stories 3.0 by Adrianna Tan,

Sustainable Tourism: We All Need To Talk About it by Jeremy Torr, Storylocker

Great Himalaya Trail: A Case Study by Robin Boustead

Responsible Tourism Event Speakers at ITB Asia 2013

For the Responsible Tourism Events at ITB Asia this year, we continue to bring you the best and most relevant speakers that can inspire and change the way you think about travel. Responsible Tourism is not just a label, it is essentially the way we do business and the way we experience the world. Our speakers have been handpicked because of their leadership, experience, knowledge and passion to make the world a better place via tourism. And we are proud to introduce you to them…

Speakers for the Responsible Tourism Clinics & Forum

Chananya PhataraprasitChananya Phataraprasit

Chananya has deep roots in Thailand’s travel and tourism industry. Her father, Peter Larsen, started one of Thailand’s leading inbound tour operator, East West Siam. Growing up with tourism in her blood it was clear from the very beginning that Chananya would find her groove in travel, and that she would derive joy from staying true to her Thai roots. In 1995, she built a small lodge in the remote hill tribe village of Lisu in northern Thailand. She wanted a place where visitors could learn about local culture directly from their hosts, the Lisu villagers.  Continuing with her journey, she set up Asian Oasis in 2006 with the aim of creating unique travel offerings for a growing segment of travellers looking beyond Thailand’s beaches, temples and cities for more meaningful and authentic experiences. Chananya is driven by a passion to sustain, protect and improve local culture and the environment through economic growth, education and employment opportunities.

Martin StevensonMartin Stevenson

Originally from Cambridge, England, Martin Stevenson is a journalist, freelance travel writer, and founder and editor-in-chief of sustainable travel website More Than Footprints. Following a war of attrition between several gap-years spent travelling in Asia and his degree in South Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Martin worked in financial public relations in London and taught MBA courses at ESSEC business school in Paris. He has spent the last three years in Southeast Asia researching and writing ‘More than footprints? – How backpacking lost its way’. He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur.

Kumud Sengupta Kumud Sengupta

Kumud is the co-founder & director of Market Vision, a research and consultancy services firm based in Dubai. She undertakes research and consulting projects on behalf of the UNWTO, European Travel Commission, and various national tourism boards. An economics graduate with an MBA degree, Kumud is a certified assessor and consultant for Sustainable Tourism, and is also the Managing Editor of Spotlight on Sustainable Tourism (SOST), an e-journal with a mission to promote sustainable business practices among tourism stakeholders.

Tushar KhandelwalTushar Khandelwal

Tushar is an Indian-born tech/startup/travel geek and entrepreneur from Japan. He is currently the Head of Marketing & Community at Voyagin, a marketplace to help travelers discover & book unique experiences in Asia. After graduating from Columbia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, Tushar started his career working for Social Bicycles & Producteev before moving back to Asia & joining Voyagin.

Amy McLoughlinAmy McLoughlin

Amy has worked in a variety of responsible tourism positions in the UK, India, Malaysia and Cambodia. Her efforts have been recognized internationally by’s Responsible Tourism Awards and WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Her specialty areas in the field include protected area management, sustainable transport, community development and voluntourism. She is currently the Communications Manager for PEPY in Cambodia, an international development organization providing education and youth empowerment programs to rural students. Amy is also the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Coordinator, identifying leaders in sustainability across Southern Asia, which is celebrated each year at ITB Asia.

Adrianna Tan Adrianna Tan

Adrianna Tan has been writing on the Internet since 2003. Her blog,, features some experiments in travel and in travel writing, alongside other interests such as history and tech. She is one of the authors of WIRED’s Where Next travel section, and has contributed to the likes of Geographical, Asian Geographic, Elle, MINT, Straits Times and other magazines and newspapers.

Djinaldi GosanaDjinaldi Gosana

Djinaldi Gosana began his career in Hospitality industry at Caravelle Hotel Frankfurt, Germany in 1974 prior studying at Steigenberger Hotel School in Bad Reichenhall, Germany in 1975. Graduated his Hotel- and Tourism Management College in Dortmund, Germany in 1981 and he is the Founder & Chairman of Bali Community Based Tourism Association (Bali CoBTA). He is also the Executive Director of Bali Hotels Association. Prior to Bali CoBTA, he was the GM & Executive Committee member of 5-star hotels such as The Patra Bali Resort & Villas, Kamandalu Resort & Spa in Ubud-Bali, The Four Seasons Resort Bali, Bali Dynasty Shangri-La Resort, The Regent and The Mandarin Oriental – Jakarta. Mr. Djinaldi aalso serves as the Director of Partnership & Business Development services for the Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board. He has a great passion to help communities develop proper hospitality management skills. His dedication and efforts to minimize poverty, to improve the community welfare and preserve local culture are well appreciated and successfully supported by the stakeholders in Bali and Indonesia.

Jeremy Torr PeakJeremy Torr

Jeremy Torr is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and had visited some 47 countries at last count. He has lived and worked in the UK, Australia and Singapore and has written for the BBC, The Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore’s Today – as well as editing Discovery Channel Magazine, Ticket Magazine and SilverKris inflight. He owns a Swiss Army knife.

Hannah WonHannah Won

Originally from the United States, Hannah is now based in Cambodia where she has been working with children since 1998.  She holds a Master of Science in Education with a specialization in early childhood and is particularly interested in highlighting the damaging effects of orphanages from a child development perspective.  She has been an advocate for bringing awareness of this issue into the tourism and volunteer industries, as well as to donors funding orphanages from abroad.  Most recently, Hannah presented a case study in implementing new government laws for the alternative care of children to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Provincial Orphans and Vulnerable Children Task Force.  Hannah is currently working as a program advisor with an organization that focuses on keeping children out of orphanages and supporting families to care for their own children.

Robin BousteadRobin Boustead

Robin Boustead is the originator of the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT): both as a contiguous pure mountain route and as a product. Over the last two decades he has taken the GHT from concept to the fully fledged brand and development vehicle we see today. Working both strategically, negotiating with governments and other major stakeholders to establish the Trail, and also operationally, creating maps, guide books, seeding a vibrant online community of GHT-ers, enabling adventure travel operators globally to successfully market GHT products. Robin brings strong commercial sense along with an in-depth experience of South Asia to the GHT. He is a serial entrepreneur with thriving businesses in South Asia and Europe. He is driven by a passion for the mountains, their communities and culture.

Patchareeboon SakulpitakphonPatchareeboon Sakulpitakphon

Ms. Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon, or Mam, is Project Manager of The Code working to engage tourism private sector and prioritizing awareness about child protection as part of responsible tourism and CSR. Prior to this current position, she worked with ECPAT International on the global ‘Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People’ campaign with The Body Shop International over a period of three years in over 40 countries, resulting several significant achievements: presented 7 million+ petitions to the United Nations, generated over US$3 million dollars and at least 16 countries adopted legislation changes. With a background in International Justice and Norms and Human Rights, she continues to expand her knowledge on strategies for integrating children’s rights within the private sector.