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Published: 25 April 2016

Surrey professor judges prestigious awards celebrating responsible tourism

Head of School Professor Graham Miller leads a panel of 36 judges to decide the winners of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced the finalists and winners of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards at a special ceremony that took place in Dallas, Texas.

These awards showcase business leadership in sustainable tourism, celebrating ground-breaking and inspiring initiatives across five categories: Community, Destination, Environment, Innovation and People.

Head of the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management (SHTM) Professor Graham Miller led a panel of 36 judges from the private sector, academic institutions, non-profit organisations and government to choose the finalists and winners.

These awards demonstrate the wonderful examples of sustainability in tourism around the world,” Professor Miller reflected on the awards. “If tourism is to be able to retain its privileged use of the world’s resources, it needs to be able to show the benefit it can bring to the world. These companies demonstrate how positive tourism can be.”

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Read about the deserving winners and finalists:

Community Category - this was open to any tourism organisation working to improve the lives and opportunities for communities where it operates.

WINNER: Expediciones Sierra Norte, Pueblos Mancomunados, Mexico

Community-based ecotourism project working to preserve one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, the forests of the Sierra Norte, and share it with visitors to this region by establishing more than 100km of routes through the forest, all following the ancient trails that connected the communities in the past.

Finalist: SapaO’Chau, Vietnam

Committed to harnessing the growth in tourism in the Sapa region of Vietnam to support sustainable development for the Hmong, Dao and other minority peoples that live there. It focuses on a thoroughly holistic approach, from local education to traveller experience, enabling visitors to gain the most authentic experience, while providing a sustainable income to minority peoples, and helping them maintain their cultural identity.

Finalist: Yayasan Ekowisata Indonesia (Indonesian Ecotourism Network)

Indecon has spent 20 years promoting ecotourism across Indonesia. Whether helping locals address environmental degradation due to illegal logging or turning around the loss of heritage, the organisation has enabled many local communities to maintain their sense of place by preserving their culture and sharing it with foreign visitors.

Destination Category - this was open to tourism destinations who have worked exceptionally in any aspect of sustainability, whether commercially, socially, culturally, environmentally or politically.

WINNER: Park Limburg, Netherlands

Sixteen years ago the regions of Hill Country and Parkstad in the Netherlands’ Limburg province were marked by economic decline. Since then, the two have combined on a programme of developing Parkstad – a former coal mining district – as a wet weather tourism destination. Parkstad's turnover in 2015 was €368 million and now provides 5,800 full time jobs.

Finalist: Swiss Parks Network

The Swiss Parks Network is formed of 19 parks created in Switzerland to protect the country’s best landscapes and promote sustainable tourism within them. Local residents worked together to develop this project and demonstrate the viability of creating each park, creating a source of great civic pride and opportunity.

Finalist: V&A Waterfront, South Africa/Botswana

Over the past nine years, what was once an industrialised brownfield site has been decontaminated and reinvigorated to become a mecca of independent shops, restaurants and hotels, while still supporting a marina, local fishing industry and residential developments. In 2014 it contributed an estimated R33.4 billion (US$3.34 billion) to the country's GDP.

Environment Categoryopen to any travel and tourism organisation striving to improve the natural environment through its operations.

WINNER: Wilderness Safaris, South Africa/Botswana

Sixteen years ago there were no wild rhino left in Botswana. In 2000, Wilderness Safaris began to reintroduce both black and white rhinos back into the Okavango. Today, viable breeding populations have been re-established in the region, widening the geographic distribution of the species.

Finalist: Alcatraz Cruises, US

Alcatraz Cruises' ferries have some of the most environmentally friendly boats of their kind, with solar panels and wind turbines on their roofs. Last year, the company diverted 95% of its waste from landfill. It sponsors local non-profits, sets up battery recycling, and runs environmental days for tourists and members of the public.

Finalist: Lindblad Expeditions, US & Worldwide

Lindblad Expeditions takes guests to some of the most beautiful and diverse regions of the world, accompanied by leading scientists, naturalists and researchers. It aims to leave behind a positive legacy, from supporting conservation projects in the Galapagos Islands to safeguarding the last wild places of the world’s oceans by exploring, surveying, and establishing marine protected areas.

Innovation Category - for any project that has developed an innovative approach to addressing a particular sustainable challenge.

WINNER: 'Carmacal' B2B carbon calculator by ANVR

Carmacal is the only carbon calculator to provide climate footprints at the level of airline/aircraft combinations per route, while also estimating the carbon footprint for 500,000 accommodation options around the world. It means that tour operators can assess the carbon impact of the packages they offer and look for ways to make them more efficient.

Finalist: ‘Measuring Tourism’s Impact’ by PwC, Travel Foundation & TUI Group, UK

Seeking to assess the full impact of tourism on a destination, the Travel Foundation applied PwC’s Total Impact Measurement & Management methodology to TUI Group's operations across eight hotels in Cyprus in 2013. This was the first time that the economic, environmental and social impacts of a large tour operator in a mainstream holiday destination had been assessed at this scale.

Finalist: North Sailing, Iceland

In 2015, the company's schooner Opal became the first ship in the world to be installed with a Regenerative Plug-In Hybrid Propulsion System, enabling her to recharge batteries while under sails. Having no engine burning fossil fuels means the ship releases no soot or fumes into the water, nor does any engine noise disturb the wildlife that people have come to see.

People Category - open to any organisation dedicated to improving career opportunities for people in travel and tourism.

WINNER: Youth Career Initiative (YCI), UK

The Youth Career Initiative (YCI) has developed a six-month education and training programme targeted at unemployed youth with limited socio-economic opportunities in 15 countries around the world. It also works with survivors of human trafficking, enabling the reintegration of rehabilitated survivors through their participation in its programmes.

Finalist: Jus' Sail, Saint Lucia

Jus' Sail is committed to using its business to provide meaningful skills and employment to the youth of its island, where 50% of the young are unemployed. During the off-season summer months, Jus’ Sail runs youth training programs, seeking to provide personal development experience for unemployed St Lucians, leading to sustainable employment within the yachting sector and travel industry.

Finalist: Kinyei International, Cambodia

A project that promotes youth social entrepreneurship and responsible tourism through two tourism businesses – an educational bike tour and a training café. The project’s aim is to serve as a platform for the emergence and development of ideas, while also providing young Cambodians from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance of employment in tourism and hospitality.

Read more about the winners and finalists.

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