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.

Sukau Rainforest Lodge – Most Inspiring Accommodation

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Sukau Rainforest Lodge for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. 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.

Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo’s magnificent wildlife. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Uses external experts to assist/advise on compliance issues.
  • Makes a significant contribution – mostly at own expense – to promoting benefits of sustainable tourism practice and ecotourism in Borneo and wider afield.
  • Consistent efforts to educate tourists and the industry about ecotourism for over a decade through different media and techniques.
  • Commitment to partnership and multi-stakeholder approach (e.g. set up association). Several international awards.
  • Active conservation and environmental practices – supporting KiTA, projects through BEST Society, etc. The BEST Society, of which the Founder is also the chair man has implemented lots of projects, which are reported annually and available to learn about online on the best website. It’s a great achievement to have raised over 1 million RM on community projects.
  • Good wages and welfare to staff. Weekly team meetings addressing staff’s personal development, supporting staff training opportunities – internal and external.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Great interpretation practices to inform and educate guests.
  • Feedback from community leaders.
  • Responsible wildlife viewing practices.

 Inspiring Management

  • Internal environmental and social impact assessments delivered.
  • Guests receive information on sustainable tourism through own personal booklet.
  • Work with compliance team to maintain legal compliance, work with NGOs (e.g. WWF) and specialist to monitor environmental aspects.
  • Weekly staff meetings to share personal development, some staff sent for training, H&S for all staff twice a year.
  • Some rooms and all public areas have wheelchair accessibility.
  • MD is advisor to International Ecotourism Society board and speaks at events on responsible tourism.
  • 1997 British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award.
  • World Travel Awards 2010 Winner for Best Asia Green Hotel award.
  •  Voted the top 50 best eco-lodges by National Geographic, 2009.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Provide opportunity for guests to vists local’s house, money goes direct to family, to learn about local culture.
  • Helped form KiTA, local tourism association, and its conservation levy scheme. Raised over RM1million to date through own and sister company, spent on community/conservation projects.
  • Provided 50 water tanks to local community.
  • Organised 3 medical camps, bringing doctor and dentist to local area.
  • School visits site twice a year to learn about conservation.
  • 53% local workforce, 40% of management are local people.
  • Hire local contractors, e.g. boat men or maintenance staff.
  • Provide internship opportunities for local people.
  • Policy to protect female staff, anyone who does not follow is immediately terminated and reported to police.
  • Newly constructed staff quarters, provide very good and better than other local standards of living.
  • Above minimum wage with other opportunities, e.g. share tips or night cruise fees.
  • Meet on ad hoc basis with community leaders and at times when delivering local projects.

Cultural Preservation

  • Do and Don’t provided by leaflet.
  • Design based on local style, reducing impact to trees, constructed by locals with as many local materials as possible.
  • All guests have to wear traditional sarung to dinner to immerse in local culture.
  • Sell regional crafts in the shop.

Resource Efficiency

  • Use of solar for water heating.
  • Avoid dependency on electricity by using e.g. kerosene lamps on walkways.
  • Inform guests about reducing energy and water through info in rooms.
  • Water from rain water harvesting and from river (treated) in dry season.
  • Water saving: toilets and showers.
  • Recently improved waste water management with new septic tanks installed.
  • All waste including recyclable taken offsite.
  • Performed risk assessment (2007) to identify risks from chemicals and have taken actions to prevent.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Evening presentations and talks from naturalists to educate guests on conservation.
  • First business in area to get solar, set buildings back from river, electric motor on river cruises, wildlife guidelines and have waste management scheme.
  • Has tree planting programme aimed at carbon offsetting.
  • Guests told to reduce noise after 9pm.
  • 80.8% area left undeveloped. All flora on site are native.
  • Funded river clean up through KiTA, reforestation and rehabilitated hornbills, pangolin, and an owl at the lodge.
  • Boardwalk design allows for elephants to move across. 
T+L 2012‘Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider’ Award is sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.

Tourism & Conservation in Malaysia

Seeing a turtle, a tiger or any other animal in its wild natural habitat is a breathtaking experience not only for a nature lover, but anyone easily enthralled by pure beauty. Unfortunately opportunities to do so worldwide are getting smaller and smaller as both turtles and tigers are under the threat of extinction in many locations, including Malaysia.

Fortunately for us and the wildlife there is a lot that can be done to preserve both of these beautiful animals on Malaysian land. A variety of organisations aware of the preservation issues have put a lot of effort to support the environment and made it possible for others, including tourists, to get in involved. Anyone, regardless of their skills, can get involved in a number of conservation projects across the country.

Joining a programme like these enables you to not only learn about the wildlife of Malaysia but you also get a chance to help preserve them, this is Ecotourism at its best. - Daniel Quilter, Ecoteer founder

Hiking

Photo taken from http://ecoteerresponsibletravel.com

One of few organisations who realised the need for action is Ecoteer Responsible Travel having established a variety of conservation projects in partnership with credible NGOs such as MYCAT and local stakeholders in order to help preserve the best of Malaysian wildlife. Now tourists can be part of several conservation projects in Malaysia while on holiday.

Tiger conservation at Merapoh, on the borders of Taman Negara, is one of such important programmes run by Ecoteer. The aim of the project is to maintain the wildlife corridor between Taman Negara and main mountain range used by tigers to pass through. The corridor is there to allow migration of wildlife while avoiding isolation and preserving the continuity of number of species, including (apart from tigers) elephants, rhinos, sun bears and leopards. Protecting and improving the corridor is the daily duty of many volunteers who decided to participate to make a difference. Find out more about the Tiger Trail.

The Merapoh programme is something special, in a 2 day expedition the Ecoteer Team managed to find tracks of Sun Bear, Elephant and 2 leopards, plus we deactivated 2 snares and whilst collecting camera traps we captured photos of Sun Bear, Tapir, Golden Cat and a Tiger.  The animals are out there and so too are the poachers, join this programme and do the best thing you can do for Tiger conservation and remove a snare!

Alongside rainforest, Malaysian marine wildlife is another focal point of conservation projects based on the coast. Country’s famous green sea turtles are being monitored in Perthentian Islands by volunteers who have a unique chance to experience underwater wildlife protection whilst learning about the process and educating others, including tourists in the location.

The Perhentian islands are paradise, however many issues still exist like waste disposal and poaching of turtles eggs.  By Joining this programme you are helping to protect one out of 4 key nesting sites in the Perhentians.

Volunteering on conservation projects does not only benefit the wildlife, but also people involved. Programmes like the one in Taman Negara, are a great opportunity to discover the richness and learn about the complexity of rainforest ecosystem as well as difficulties involved in protection of such a vast natural area. Jungle trekking or diving with turtles are firsthand experiences not to be missed by nature lovers and all those concerned about environmental protection. After all it is the wildlife and people who make these places special. Travel & make a difference – support tiger and turtle conservation in Malaysia.