SKAL annouces ecotourism awards

The 5th Annual Skål International Ecotourism Awards were presented by the President of Skål International, Jan Sunda and Director of Media and Public Relations, Ms. Hulya Aslantas during the Opening Ceremony of the 67th Skål World Congress held in Pattaya, Thailand, on 16th October 2006 in PEACH. Skål, founded as an international association in 1934 is the largest organisation of travel and tourism professionals in the world, embracing all sectors of the travel and tourism industry, in five Continents, 87 Countries and at over 500 locations, with 22.000 members from hoteliers to travel agents, Airlines, tourism media, tourism academicians and such..

Skål International is aiming at quality in tourism and values sustainable development in Tourism as the key to the industry’s future success and considers Ecotourism but one area of the various components of sustainable development and responsible tourism.

To encourage the conservation of the environment and help to promote the development of responsible and sustainable tourism, Skål International initiated an awards program in 2002, during “The Year of Ecotourism and the Mountains” as declared by United Nations.
While the purpose of these awards was to highlight best practices in ecotourism around the world, they were also created with the aim of acquainting the world with this new concept that puts emphasis on the importance of the interaction of the physical, cultural and social environment, the traveler’s responsibility and the need for active community participation for Ecotourism.

In their fifth year the awards have received continued support worldwide and this year 51 entries were received originating from 28 Countries; 16 from Asia, 15 from Americas, eight from Europe, seven from Africa and five from Oceania. It was interesting to note six entries from India and five from Canada the two Countries with highest number of entries.
The Awards show the sensitivity and awareness of Skål International towards the protection of the environment in conjunction with sustainable tourism. Ecotourism, together with other alternative forms of tourism strengthens the local economies and contributes to sustainable development.

The applications were evaluated by three independent judges and the scores given by each separately, are added up to find the winners. The primary criteria for the evaluation is based on such points like, contribution to the conservation of nature and cultural heritage, community involvement, educational features, business viability and innovation.

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Skål International is grateful for the meticulous work conducted by the three judges,

- Eugenio Yunis from UNWTO, Head Sustainable Development of Tourism
- Jason Keating from Green Globe Asia Pacific, General Manager, Australia
- Bernward Geier, Rainforest Alliance, Germany

Iznik Foundation ( www.iznik.com.tr ) continued for the second year to be the sponsor of the quartz trophies they have specially designed for SKAL INTERNATIONAL. Combining ecology with the unique art of Iznik (Ancient Nicea); the awards are a sign of preservation of natural sources and traditions and with their special characteristics they are specially chosen to emphasize the value of our global riches.

Main sponsor Evian ( www.evian.com ) of Danone group, coherent with their environmental commitment identifies as one of their first responsibilities to be to protect the springs they manage and contribute to the preservation of the natural and rural environment. Danone group also owns two hotel properties in Evian and supports environmental friendly tourism.

The winners are announced as follows:
In the category of Tour Operators and Travel Agents,
-VOLUNTOURISTS WITHOUT BORDERS INITIATIVE, from
Thailand.
In the category of Rural Accommodation, the joint winners are
- BLACK SHEEP INN, from Ecuador, and INKATERRA, from Peru.
In the category of Urban Accommodation,
- SHINE - SAUNDERS HOTELS INITIATIVE TO NURTURE THE ENVIRONMENT, from the United States of America.
In the category of General Countryside,
- BLUE VENTURES, from the United Kingdom.
In the category of Cities and Villages,
- THE CAMILI RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, from Turkey.
In the category of Educational Programmes and Media,
- THE WECHIAU COMMUNITY HIPPO SANCTUARY, from Canada.
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