Powerful potential of big business recognised in World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016
Tren Ecuador and Lemon Tree Hotels, India have been announced as the joint-overall winners of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London sponsored by Belize in a special ceremony held during World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London.
Chosen from 13 worldwide finalists in five categories, the judges were unable to split the two overall-winners, commending both on the extent of the impacts they have had and their powerful potential to inspire real change within the tourism industry.
Tren Ecuador, which also took the Gold in the ‘Best for Poverty Reduction & Inclusion’ category sponsored by the Tobago Tourism Board, impressed for reversing the traditional approach of heritage and luxury train travel (a model where the guests remain cocooned on the train, isolated from the places they pass through) and instead creating shared value with local enterprises, creating 5000 livelihoods for local people in communities along the tracks. The third largest hotel chain in India, and the fastest-growing, Lemon Tree Hotels caught the judges’ attention in the ‘Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment’ category with their core programme to give opportunity-deprived Indians (those with a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities, and those from socially-excluded groups) a route into employment.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, an eminent collection of responsible tourism leaders from across the industry, NGOs and public organisations, Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of Judges said:
“The judges hold Tren Ecuador up as an outstanding, holistic example of how all tours should be designed, and feel that if all tourism was planned in this way it would be very effective at making better places in which to live, as well as better places to visit.”
The potential these businesses have to inspire change is not lost on Justin Francis, founder of the Awards and CEO of organisers Responsible Travel.
“When I founded these awards in 2004 it was the aim to highlight what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism and hold the winners up as examples to be replicated by the wider tourism industry.
Lemon Tree Hotels & Tren Ecuador show clearly how big corporations can adopt responsible tourism as a core part of their business, be commercially successful and deliver significant benefits for local communities. These businesses move a more responsible style of tourism into the mainstream. They are the future of tourism”.
Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for the Awards headline sponsor, the Belize Tourism Board commented:
“The Belize Tourism Board has always valued and embraced the principles and pillars of responsible travel so it’s a real privilege to support and congratulate all the winners of this year’s awards. The opportunity to sponsor the awards has provided an important platform to highlight the importance of responsible travel globally and also to showcase Belize’s commitment to developing tourism in a way which reflects these principles. We hope that not only will the finalists inspire businesses in Belize to follow their example, but that they will help drive positive change in tourism globally”.
Commenting on the calibre of the winners, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director for World Travel Market London and Awards judge says:
“The standard of entries into this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London has been of a phenomenally high standard. As we celebrate ten years of World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM London, the joint winners perfectly demonstrate the type of projects WRTD is looking to highlight and encourage. Both winners put the local communities at the heart of what they are looking to deliver.”
Full details of the 2016 Gold & Silver Winners can be found on the Awards website at http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards.
The full judges’ reasons can be found at: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/winners/2016.htm after 12:45pm on Tuesday 8th November 2016.
All 2016 winners are available for interviews and high resolution images can be obtained in the Dropbox links below, or by contacting Sarah Faith on firstname.lastname@example.org 01273 829269.
Best for Poverty Reduction & Inclusion – sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly
Gold: Tren Ecuador, Ecuador. http://trenecuador.com/
“The judges were impressed by the way in which Tren Ecuador has reversed the traditional approach of heritage and luxury train travel, a model where the guests remain cocooned on the train, isolated for the places they pass through. They instead have created shared value with 23 station-cafes, 14 artisanal squares, 13 local museums, 2 lodges, 9 folklore and historical recreation groups and several community-based tourism operations – all included as part of a tourist’s journey. The result is a family of associated enterprises which creates 5000 livelihoods for people in local communities along the tracks.”
4 days on the ‘Tren Cucero’ from the Andes to Pacific Coast costs from US$1,450pp. Includes all meals, accommodation in local guesthouses, transfers, cultural & community experiences and English & Spanish-speaking guides. Book at www.trenecuador.com/en
High-resolution images available here: