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Responsible tourism Awards

Best for Poverty Reduction and Inclusion

Economic: Impact on the Local Economy
2015 Sponsor:

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Best for Poverty Reduction and Inclusion

Best for poverty reduction and inclusion is awarded to a tourism organisation with a creative and long-term approach to reducing poverty in local communities and including local and marginalised people in their activities..

Explained: The Best for poverty reduction and inclusion category is one of the longest standing categories of the World Responsible Tourism Awards. In 2016 with this category we are looking for travel providers that are not only using memorable holiday experiences to achieve a measurable reduction in poverty among a local community, but those which also include local and marginalised people - creating inclusive forms of tourism provision and shared value with local communities.

What the Judges want: A tourism organisation that can prove significant reduction of poverty in a local community, inclusion of local and marginalised people, and a long-term sustainable vision for continuing their work, and providing a working example for others tourism providers around the world.

2015 - Best for Poverty Reduction

Our gold winner this year was Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt Ltd, and there were three silver winners: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, OneSeed Expeditions and Uakari Floating Lodge.

Gold award: Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt Ltd

Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt Ltd

Pandurang Taware is a man who understands the fundamentals of agritourism. Emanating from a small farming community in the Indian state of Maharashtra, this business not only invites guests to their own farm and agritourism business, but also shares its knowledge and understanding of rural tourism with 750 farmers around the state. Because, in India, and responsible tourism, we believe that sharing is caring.

Given that this region is not on the traditional tourist trail, and people working in farming are not traditional tourism people, Agri Tourism Development has worked miracles to create such a strong enclave of agritourism in Maharashtra. India's agricultural sector is stagnating, with young people migrating to urban areas for employment, and Pandurang Taware is determined to turn around this trend. Consequently, they now boast 750 trained farmers and 218 agritourism locations across the state, with farmers experiencing a 33% increase in income. Products that they offer include family summer camps, blanket making from recycled clothes and other rural handicrafts that are sold at agritourism centres. The movement is now so big, it is becoming a bit like a Bollywood movie. Lots of players, huge enthusiasm and great stories to be told.

For more information see the Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt Ltd website.

Silver award: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

A highly prestigious, 5 * nature reserve and eco resort in the Gansbaai region of South Africa right down on the southern tip. It may seem wonderfully remote to visitors, but it is tied in with the local communities in ways that guests often won't even know about. Because, as their stunning video tells you, "We are but a single thread in this complex web, bound together inextricably to conserve and protect diversity, to seek solutions that support humanity, to live in harmony with nature."

Apart from a fundamental commitment to the fact that conservation can't happen without community support, Grootbos has the long term alleviation of poverty and the empowerment of the people living in the Walker Bay region at the core of everything they do. Which is why they set up the Grootbos Foundation in 2003, supported by funds raised through the business, but also through donations.

One of the projects funded by Grootbos is a Football Foundation, which isn't suprising, given that Grootbos gets the fact that breaking poverty cycles is all about skills. Teaching them, sharing them and rewarding them. Whether they are football coaching skills, animal husbandry, kitchen gardening, organic farming, hospitality, or training to be FGSA qualified nature guides, skills are empowering. Grootbos employees are actively encouraged to train in other areas within the company, to move up and manage their skills ambitiously. Grootbos strives to source as many products and services locally as possible, but when you are working in a region where unemployment levels are over 30%, this is not easy. So, they are training and teaching, mentoring and motivating, so that eventually the local businesses will grow, and poverty will shrink. And we think that's a great Grootbos goal.

For more information see the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve website.

Silver award: OneSeed Expeditions

In some ways, this innovative travel company should be called TenSeeds, given that it plants 10% of its revenue (not profits) into micro finance schemes locally. Which is pretty rare in the tourism industry, it has to be said. It's the first thing you read about when you visit their website, because it's what they believe in, first and foremost. That and giving you a superb holiday, whether you are hiking to the top of Kilimanjaro, trekking in Patagonia or ice hiking in Chile.

This pioneering business, founded in 2010 by a dynamic team of teachers, guides and researchers and based in Colorado USA, has invested $130,000 in micro finance schemes in the places where they lead holidays: Nepal, Chile, Argentina, Tanzania, Columbia and Peru. Since launching, they have helped create or expand over 300 new businesses, ranging from agriculture, retail, livestock and food services. Whether you are growing rice in Nepal or opening a hair salon in Chile, you need money. They also have a huge team of local guides, employing over 40 now in all these destinations. So, in other words, they have planted a lot of seeds. Particularly outstanding is the fact that 90% of these micro finance schemes are for women entrepreneurs, in countries where those two words are rarely said together in the same sentence. OneSeed says it all the time though. In fact, they shout it from some of the highest mountains in the world.

For more information see the OneSeed Expeditions website.

Silver award: Uakari Floating Lodge

Uakari Floating Lodge

A floating lodge in the flooded forests of the Amazon. The biggest protected flooded forest in the world in fact, under the care of the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve. It's hard to imagine many things cooler than that. Cool and eco-chic aren't usually two words associated with government departments either, but Uakari is actually a research centre set up by the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. A Ministry that also ministers to communities that live there. Which is rare in our books. So, all in all, Uakari is too cool for school.

You can choose to stay at Uakari during flood or drought stage, going wildlife watching, meeting researchers, taking canoe trips, fishing, dolphin watching, birdwatching, night hiking and visiting local communities. We shouldn't put local communities at the last of this list, however, as many tourism itineraries do, because Uakari doesn't just give a cursory nod to its local people. It is managed 100% by local communities and, since it was founded in 1998, has had 66 communities represented here at various times. Conservation can only come about through community inclusion, but at Uakari, this inclusion has also led to substantially increased incomes for many families.

Uakari exemplies a win win in tourism. The region is protected from over-exploitation by communities which depend on fishing, farming , hunting and wood extraction. These same communities are fully trained to management level in tourism that thrives on conservation and, when the drought season comes and the flood plains empty, but tourists start to flow, there is plenty of work for local people. Good community based tourism is not about replacing lifestyles, it is about complementing them in a responsible way. And it isn't science. It's common sense.

For more information see the Uakari Floating Lodge website.

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