Friday, October 30, 2009

Introducing the Winners!

After a much anticipated wait, Wild Asia announced the winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards 2009 at the cocktail reception at Istana Hotel on 28 October, 2009. Joined with us to celebrate this victorious event are our sponsors, corporate partners, members of the media and more importantly our finalists namely; Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Nikoi Island, Sunderbans Jungle Camp and El Nido Resorts.

Through self-evaluation checklist submissions and site verification visits by judges and fact-finders to all finalists’ destinations, the winners have demonstrated their strong abilities to meet the Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award checklist’s forty criteria, which comprehensively cover aspects of local employment and economies; respecting local laws, cultures and sensitivities; responsibilities towards employees and communities; recognising children’s rights; and protecting the environment through a suite of conservation initiatives, efficient use of resources, as well as having a responsible waste management system.

And the winners are:

• Large Accommodation Operators

ITC Mughal, Agra, India

• Mid-sized to Small Accommodation Operators

El Nido Resorts, Miniloc, Philippines

• Community-Based to Homestay Operators
Sunderbans Jungle Camp, Bali Island, India

Wild Asia would like to congratulate winners and finalists for their commendable efforts and commitment in achieving high standards of environmental protection and social responsibility that form the critical pillars of their business philosophy.

We would also like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to our sponsors; CSR Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Sime Darby, Keresa Plantations, The Star and Dot and Line Graphics for their continuous support.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sime Darby Plantation Supports Responsible Tourism

Sime Darby's sponsorship for the Sustainable Island Programme 2008-2010, a joint project between Wild Asia and Reef Check Malaysia to protect Malaysia's coral reefs, has significantly expanded this year to include RTA09, thereby demonstrating Sime Darby's willingness to move beyond Malaysian shores to tackle the bigger picture of responsible tourism within Asia.

A big thank you for the much needed support from Wild Asia's long-time partner, Sime Darby Plantation.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

RTA 2009 Judges Summary

Our RT Awards site visit team and this year's judges met on Friday 25th September to discuss and agree on the results of the site visits. We met in person and were also joined by two other judges who were away in Vietnam and Sabah via skype. This gave us an opportunity to hear feedback from our team who visited all finalists across Asia: India, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia.

We also had a chance to review the site visit reports and to note improvements for next year's Awards. One of the changes we had to make as a result of this meeting was a clarification of the Award's categories. Based on our site visits and feedback from the operators, we found that two of the finalists belonged to different categories. We decided to re-categorize Nikoi Island and Lamai homestay due to these findings, in order to adequately judge the two operations among finalists in similar categories. We apologise for the oversight on our part.

Large Accommodation Operators

- Shangri La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Malaysia
- ITC Mughal, India

Mid sized to Small Accommodation Operators

- El Nido Resorts, Philippines
- Soneva Fushi, Maldives
- Nikoi Island, Indonesia

Community-based to Homestay Operators

- Andaman Discoveries, Thailand
- Sunderbans Jungle Camp, India
- Lamai Homestay, Thailand

We also deliberated on the 6 principles that we had judged from; understanding of tourism impacts; creating a “sense of place"; sustaining Responsible Tourism; communicating Responsible Tourism; internalizing Responsible Tourism and sphere of influence.

This provided room for debate and found that it was especially hard when the operators were equally strong on a number of these principles. Nonetheless, by the end of the 2 hour meeting the team had all agreed on the winners of each category!

Judging Process
  1. Operators' submissions of their self-assessment checklist is verified during site visits and amendments (if any) are made based on findings.
  2. After site visits, fact-finders submit a report to the Judges, which details the 6 principles as above.
  3. Upon completion of all site visits and submission of amended checklists and site reports, judges and fact-finders meet to review both checklists and reports, and discuss strengths between finalists in each category to decide on a winner.

So what's next? The team will be working on a "RT report" based on this year's entries and we will also be sharing with each finalists our site report and revised checklist. This, we hope, will be useful to the finalists as they plan their operations in the future. We will now start to focus on our planning for the networking sessions and closing event. We hope to see many of you at the ITB Asia "RT networking session", our closing cocktail party or our annual workshop.