Wild Asia's Responsible Tourism Awards gained the attention of a local Malaysian Newspaper, The New Straits Times (NST). Below is the article which highlighted our 8 finalists.
Sabah resort in shortlist for coveted tourism award
By Beatrice Thomas
KOTA KINABALU: Shangri La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu has been shortlisted as a finalist for a prestigious award on responsible tourism together with several other luxury resorts and community-based tourist operations across Southeast Asia.
The only award of its kind, the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards was created in 2006 to promote environmentally sustainable destinations throughout Asia.
Now in its fourth year, the award is aligned to the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation's Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
After analysing a field of 315 entries from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Wild Asia founder and director Reza Azmi has revealed two finalists in each of the four categories.
- Community-based: Andaman Discoveries, Thailand; and Sundarbans Jungle Camp, Bali Island, Indonesia.
- Small: Lamai Homestay, Thailand; and Nikoi, Indonesia.
- Medium: El Nido Resorts, Philippines; and Soneva Fushi, Male, Maldives.
- Large: Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; and ITC Mughal, Agra, India.
Reza said it was critical that tourism operators were recognised and rewarded for their contributions towards a greener environment.
"This award is not only a recognition of their efforts but it's also an award for learning and sharing."
As part of the judging process and to help tourism operators make changes, they are required to submit a self-assessment covering environmental, social and economic factors and a commitment to responsible tourism.
The assessments are then analysed by the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism team before three judges, including for the first time eco-architect Ian Hall, carry out site visits.
Reza said responsible tourism covered more than just the environment but also social and economic responsibilities to a region, such as how a business approached labour issues.
He said claims by tourism operators that they were eco-friendly operations also needed closer examination.
"One of the major criteria is whether or not they give us any confidence that they do understand what their social and environmental impacts are," he said.
"Sometimes they can talk for hours and hours about all these green things but then you get this feeling that they don't actually know what they were talking about."
Reza said many of the tour operators also wielded huge influence as politicians and top businessmen stayed there.
He said people could do their part for the environment by staying at places that carried out responsible tourism.
The winner from each category will be announced on October 29. Visit www.wildasia.org for more information.
Published 27 October 2009