The World Travel & Tourism Council has revealed the 15 finalists for its 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
With categories covering destination stewardship, community benefit, environmental management, workforce development and innovation, and a rigorous judging process, these awards provide the highest accolade for sustainability in the global tourism industry.
The awards aim to transform the tourism industry, based upon sustainable tourism principles, by educating and inspiring travel and tourism businesses and destinations about how to improve the sustainability of the sector.
Applications were received from 57 countries across all continents.
David Scowsill, WTTC president, said; “It is vital that we learn best practice from each other and raise the sector’s ethics to the highest order.
“The awards, now in their 11th year, showcase the companies and organisations who are breaking new ground in sustainable tourism development.
“This year’s finalists demonstrate that, when carefully managed, tourism can be a powerful force for improving livelihoods and protecting our planet for future generations.
“We want their stories to inspire others in the sector to follow their example.
“This year, for the first time, the ceremony will be live-streamed so that not only our delegates but the world at large will be able to hear the winners’ stories first hand.”
In the first stage of a comprehensive three step judging process, a committee of independent expert judges carefully evaluated and selected award entries against established sustainable tourism criteria including the protection of natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people and environmentally friendly operations.
The second phase of judging will now involve an on-site evaluation of each finalist carried out by international sustainable tourism experts.
These experts will make in-depth first hand assessments of the organisations and businesses in practice.
They will then be assessed by a further panel of sustainability experts, who will select the winner for each category. Winners will be announced during the 15th WTTC Global Summit, Madrid, Spain on April 15th-16th 2015.
Awards Lead Judge, Graham Miller, professor of sustainability in business and head of School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, University of Surrey, said: “The calibre of applications this year was exceptionally high and the judges were particularly excited by the diversity of organisations who applied.
“This year, the finalists include excellent examples of a slum tour, city and accessible tourism, as well as eco-lodges which have been leading the way in sustainable tourism development for many years.”
The Finalists of the 2015 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are:
Community Award finalists, whose organisations are committed to sustainable tourism leadership in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage:
- Fenyan Ecolodge, Jordan
- Grootbos Nature Reserve, South Africa
- Reality Tours & Travel, India
Destination Award finalists, who show commitment to supporting and delivering sustainable tourism best practices in their destinations:
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Northeast and Yilan Coast, Taiwan
- Sozopol, Bulgaria
Environment Award finalists, whose organisations and companies achieved environmental best practice through biodiversity conservation, protection of natural habitats, addressing climate change, and green operations:
- Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve, Guatemala
- Rivers Fiji, Fiji
- Soneva Group, Maldives and Thailand
Innovation Award finalists, who provided innovative solutions to overcoming the challenges faced by tourism in implementing sustainability in practice:
- ABTA Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, United Kingdom
- RED Sustainable Travel, Mexico
- TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, USA
People Award finalists, who are dedicated to the development of capacity building, training and education to build a skilled tourism workforce for the future.
- Confortel, Spain
- Global Travel & Tourism Partnership, USA
- Mountain Shepherds Initiative, India
The Winner Selection Committee is chaired by Fiona Jeffery, chair of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
Jeffery said: “This year’s finalists are maximising social and economic benefits for local people, reducing negative impacts to the environment and supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage in destinations, wherever they operate, and selecting the winners among them will be a tough job.”